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Dear Tori: How to Handle Stock Market Anxiety

Tori Dunlap is a millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori founded Her First $100K* to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more.

Every month, Tori will be answering reader questions in her new series for Daily Capital, “Dear Tori.” Do you have burning finances questions you’ve always been afraid to ask? Are you wondering how to talk to your partner about finances? What about educating your kids on good money habits? Leave us a question in the comments section below! Tori will break down the questions you’ve always had about money in an approachable way.

“Hey Tori — So the stock market is crashing. And it’s really hard to watch it fall and feel like I’m losing money. I’m anxious and can’t stop checking my account balance. I’ve been hearing from some people to sell, while others are telling me to buy, and it’s just too much. Help!”

I feel you. Hard.

I lost over 30% of my net worth in 3 weeks. That’s a ridiculously-difficult pill to swallow. And yes, like you, feel like pulling my hair out right now.

They’ve literally had to stop trading multiple times in the past few weeks because the market was plummeting too fast.

But you know what we’re not going to do? Panic. Nothing about your financial strategy should change. We’re in this for the long haul. There’s going to be booms, and there’s going to be busts — and we just need to ride it out. It’s like a roller coaster.

But what it sounds like you’re really asking, is how to curb your anxiety over the rise and fall of the stock market (and how to tune out the pandemonium in order to make smart choices.)

It’s normal to be worried about the stock market in times like these, but it’s also important to make sure you’re not letting anxiety about the markets take over. Here’s how to take care of your mental health today (and all days of market craziness) in order to talk yourself off the ledge:

1. Try to focus on what you can control.

Try to focus on what you can control. What’s happening in the markets feels very out of control, and it can feel like there’s nothing we can do but watch the value of our portfolio decline. But there are some things you can control when it comes to your money, even during this extreme volatility. Some of these include: building out an emergency fund if you’re able to, staying focused on your long-term goals, finding efficiencies in your spending, and if you can, making additional contributions to your 401k (there are some upsides to a down market!) You can use Personal Capital’s free financial tools to track your progress towards an emergency fund goal, and to analyze your budget to see if you can make any trims.

2. Limit your news notifications.

Turn off or limit your news notifications (and maybe not just about the stock market but about all of the panic around coronavirus.) The media does a great job of sensationalizing what’s going on — it helps with their sales but does not help your mental well-being. And PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD especially do not watch cable news right now. It will drive you crazy.

3. Accept the things you can’t change.

We do not know what the market will do next. Anyone who tells you they know what’s going to definitively happen is lying to you. Keep in mind stocks could recover (or they couldn’t.) At the end of the day, stick to the plan. Stay steady. Throw your hands up in the air and ride the coaster.

4. Remind yourself that you haven’t actually locked in losses until you sell.

A reminder: you have not LOST money until you sell your stocks. So yes, although that line curve is plummeting, you have not technically lost money. Highs and lows are normal.

5. Remember that we’re in this together.

No one is immune to financial stress, even money experts like me. This should give you some sort of comfort and solidarity, as all of us are moving through this potential financial crisis together. I’m writing this article to answer your question, but you better believe that I myself am going to need this very advice today, next week, and next year (maybe a tattoo on my forehead will do the trick.)

Remember to Think Long-Term

The biggest thing to remember: we’re in this for the long haul. And take care of yourself and your mental space. Put a limit on the news you consume. Only listen to people you trust. And lean on your community during this time of chaos. You’re not alone.

Worried about the market? Get your FREE guide to market volatility.

*Personal Capital compensates Tori Dunlap (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage ( to register with Personal Capital and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to Personal Capital’s Free Financial Dashboard. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Personal Capital and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to PCC. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Personal Capital as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to PCC and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by PCC’s affiliated adviser, Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, PCC or PCAC as a result of this arrangement. Additional information about PCAC is contained in Form ADV Part 2A available here.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

Tori Dunlap is a millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more. An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.
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This year, my top financial priority is:

Building my emergency fund
Paying off high-interest debt
Budgeting better
Saving for a short-term goal, like a vacation or new car
Increasing my investment contributions
Maintaining status quo - I’ve got this under control

Make moves toward your money goals with Personal Capital’s free financial tools.