Aren't professional managers, by definition, better at this?

Sorry, again. Some professionals manage to rack up outstanding performance over the years, but many are just as emotional as you are.

You don't think the recent volatility in the market was caused only by individual investors, do you? Human nature -- fear and greed -- impact all of us. You just notice your own mistakes more, because they cost you personally.

Why invest for the long run?

Because over the long run, history says you'll come out ahead.

According to the market historians at Ibbotson Associates (now a division of Morningstar), there has never been a 20-year period, going back to 1926, when you would have lost money in a diversified portfolio of large company stocks with dividends reinvested. Without exception, the long-held portfolio came out ahead, even beating inflation!

Wouldn't it be better to start investing during the good times?

I frequently quote a T. Rowe Price study showing that investors who started out putting away a regular sum of money during the toughest bear markets were able to amass a much greater retirement fortune than those who started investing in the market when times were good.

That's because in bear markets, your regular fixed investment amount buys more shares of a fund at lower prices. Then, when the market eventually takes off -- as it always has -- you get more bang for the bucks you have invested.

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