My 4 tips on how to survive a bear (market) attack

I remember my first bear market well. I had just sold an investment property, I was tired of the hassle of dealing with tenants and I thought investing in the share market would be much less stressful. Little did I know that only two weeks after I had bought my first company the market would go into a steep decline.

To be honest I cannot remember why the market fell but I remember the horror and continuously asking myself what have I done? Over the years my attitude has changed and I have come to look forward to falling markets. Why? Because this is the time when value investors can enjoy their largest gains.

If you are new to the market or Brexit fears are stopping you from sleeping at night, here are my tips on surviving a bear market.

Play dead

According to wildlife experts the best way to survive a bear attack is to play dead. No, I am not suggesting you lay down on the floor in the foetal position in front of your PC, although I have felt like doing that myself at times, especially during the GFC. I am suggesting you let the bears chase the sellers out of the market while you focus on the metrics of the companies you own; all the while refusing to join in the running of the bears.

Walk away from the screen

This is one I had used myself on those really bad days. Use this approach when your fingers are hovering over the sell button not because your company is doing poorly, but simply because your portfolio is shrinking before your eyes.

History never repeats (actually it does)

It seems like a long time ago, but just last year we were being told to brace for the end of the world as we know it (or the stock market) because Greece was going to default on its loans and leave the EU. Sound familiar? The facts are even if Britain does leave, the world will not come to an end. It may not be pretty, but companies will keep doing what they always do.

Take advantage of cheaper prices

This one sounds easy but it actually isn’t. As herd animals when we see others run from the market or danger, we want to run with them. At these times we need to ask ourselves: if the worst happens, will my company survive?

Personally I own Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG) and I know that if Britain does leave the EU, we will all wake up wanting more coffee the morning after, not less.

How about Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES)? Do you believe Britain leaving the EU will stop Australians buying food from Coles? Unless someone comes up with a nutrition pill like in the science fiction movies, Brexit or not we will all continue to eat.

Foolish takeaway

Fear is genetically wired into our DNA to heighten our senses when faced with a life threatening situation. Fear was not however designed to rule over our investing decisions. Investors who master the difference will master their financial future.

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Motley Fool contributor Alan Edmunds owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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