With stock market on roller coaster, metro financial expert urges patience, offers advice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's the season to be merry and bright, but this December's been glum on Wall Street. And if you've looked online, you might've noticed a big hit to your retirement savings.

The stock market rebounded Wednesday, with each of the three major indices jumping 5 percent. The Dow rose 1,086 points, the biggest daily point gain ever.

Although the year-end rebound in the market is good news, this December will go on record as the worst December since the Great Depression.

Experts say as much as you may worry, this is the worst time to make any major decisions on your financial future.

"This year is actually kind of normal except that this December is the biggest down December we've had since 1931.  So it has been really volatile but that doesn't mean it's unexpected," said David Dickens, president of KC Financial Advisors.

Many experts have been anticipating a downturn because we've been riding a high for so long, arguably since 2009, when the markets hit rock bottom in the recession.

"So we're well overdue for a significant downturn, 20 or 25 percent, and we're probably two-thirds of the way there on the downside," Dickens said.

Markets can't go up forever, so a downturn can be a good thing to help hit the reset button.

"If you find yourself real nervous right now about your investments, you probably have too much risk in your portfolio, which is a terrific thing when the market's going up, and it's a really bad thing when the market's going down," Dickens said.

Ongoing concerns about what's happening with the Federal Reserve's interest rates, threats of tariffs and trade wars, and a possible slow down in corporate earnings, which got a boost under the trump tax cuts, could all lead to slower or even negative growth in the new year.

But financial experts urge that now's not the time to sell or panic.

"We're very likely to have a nice rebound early in 2019, and if you feel like you have too much invested, that's the better time to adjust that. But the worst time to make your adjustments is after the market is down 15 or 20 percent," Dickens said.

The end of the year is also a good time to take a look at your 401K and make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck if you have a company match.

And if you've got some Christmas cash, making a charitable donation now can bring an extra perk when you file taxes in 2019.

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