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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Making Money Consistently In The Stock Market

By Gail Fredericks

If you want to make consistent money in the stock market, you can't afford to play it by ear. You have to have a game plan, and you have to be in it for the long haul. If what you're looking for is shortcuts to make a quick buck in the stock market, this is not the article you need to be reading. With this out of the way, let's move on to the ten steps to consistently making money in the stock market.

1. Set your goal. Take your personal factors into consideration to come up with the type of portfolio that best suits you. Then analyze every potential investment by thinking about what you want out of it and whether or not it fits into your overall investment plan. Just like a sports coach, have your X's and O's ready, don't react to the market. This will save you a lot of headaches and money.

2. Choose a strategy. There are literally thousands of investment tactics and strategies out there, and an equally high number of books detailing each one of them. Trying to follow several is counter-productive, not to mention confusing. Your best bet is to pick one that's the best fit for your financial goals and stick to it. Sure, there will probably be moments where you have to do a little tweak here and there but or the most part, the simpler your playbook, the more smoothly the game plays out.

3. Determine potential risks. Make sure that you're able to correctly determine risks that undoubtedly come hand in hand with every opportunity. One way to do so is to look at your potential investments with as critical an eye as possible, and to devise your management plan accordingly. You'll be happy you did because you will be able to minimize your losses even in the event that a particular investment turns out to be a money-losing proposition. Notice how this step comes before profit assessment? This is to make sure you don't get overwhelmed with excitement before you size up the gamble you're taking.

4. Gauge profit potential. Based on the profit potential of your investment, you should be able to determine price points where you sell and get out. One of the biggest hurdles for novice investors is knowing when to get out of an investment. They eventually wait too long and lose some of their on-paper gains.

5. Study possible alternatives. A little extra homework might unearth other investments that carry fewer risks or a better profit potential; or maybe there is another strategy that will make things simpler for you (and hopefully bring you a little more money in the process).

6. Analyze the obstacles. If you did go through the trouble of having an initial strategy, you will find that this step is a natural continuation of it. By anticipating the possible shortcomings of every investment, you put yourself in the position of doing just that.

7. Draw up your plan B. Your plan B should dictate what you do when things don't go exactly as planned (in either direction). You shouldn't have to be deciding on the fly when it's time to get out of an investment, it should all be laid out and you should be responding to certain criteria, not to panic or elation. This helps you avoid losing on potential returns or better yet, helps you avoid losing more money than you've already sunken in a losing investment.

8. Make the right choice. Investing is time-consuming, so before you jump in, take one good look at your overall investment plan. Hopefully, by then, you've been able to put together all the pieces of the puzzle and can see if the whole thing holds up and is worth pursuing. In case it isn't, you can take solace in the fact that it's easier drawing up a new plan than recouping thousands of dollars worth of losses in the stock market.

9. Reach for the stars. After you've made the decision to put money into such and such investment, it's time to stop over-analyzing and start taking action. As it turns out, even if you picked the absolute worse investment, you won't have lost everything you own because you did your homework and set limits to your losses. Your game plan, as long as it is sound, will produce solid returns in the long run if you stick to it.

10. Debrief. At least twice a year, take a look at your plan and how you've fared in your investments. If somehow you bombed and lost a lot of money, try to figure out what went wrong so that those mistakes don't keep on dogging your investing efforts. Above all, don't give up; if you do, then you won't have any lessons to draw from those mistakes. Keep tweaking things until you find your personal success formula. Once you've cleared that hurdle, you're set.

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