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It’s been a tough few months for investors. After more than doubling from the COVID low in 2020, the S&P 500 has fallen 14%. It’s been worse for growth investors. The technology-heavy NASDAQ has lost 23% of its value in 2022. The traditional ruler for a bear market is a 20% decline, so the NASDAQ is clearly in one, while the S&P 500 has been flirting with it.

Navigating bear markets can be tricky. It’s hard to keep a level head when all you see is red every time you open your portfolio. Fortunately, TheStreet is home to many seasoned investors with decades of experience managing market volatility. So, we asked them how they manage their portfolios in a bear market.

Their answers vary, but if there’s a common thread, it’s that risk control matters. Read on to learn how they’re protecting their portfolios.

I’ve boosted my monthly contributions to an S&P 500 index fund in my retirement account. Because accumulating more shares at lower prices can shorten the time to recover to past highs, dollar-cost averaging throughout a bear market can pay off.

Remember, every bear has preceded a big move up in the S&P 500 and, eventually, all-time highs. So, if your time horizon is long, consider calling human resources to increase your contribution rate.

If your horizon is short-term, you can’t dollar-cost average into an index, or you invest in individual stocks, it’s different.

You don’t pick a fight with a Grizzly bear! In the Great Recession, every major market sector fell by double-digit percentages, so nothing is safe in a recession besides cash or Treasuries.

Therefore, it’s important to play defense if you need the money soon. For example, avoiding margin steers you clear of forced liquidation. And keeping a higher-than-normal amount of cash to pay expenses will keep you from selling great companies at their lows to pay your bills. Stop losses, shorting, and low-beta value stocks can help, too.

Overall, understanding what you own (borrowing conviction from others is a killer) and proactively creating plans for buying and selling is essential. If you react to the market’s whims and whispers, you’ll churn your account to pieces.

Looking for more from TheStreet? TheStreet Smarts curates the most important investment information every day. Learn more today.

It depends on what kind of bear market we’re talking about. If liquidity dries up along with price discovery, traders/investors will want to either remain “cash-y” or stash the cash in medium-term debt securities such as U.S. Two Year Notes if they will yield 2.5% plus.

Beyond that, it is probably best to trade more than to invest.

I find it easier, though I don’t always do it with the precision I should… to segregate funds meant for trading and funds meant for investment. If you have to, use two accounts.

The trading account goes home mostly cash, if not every night, then at least every weekend. The investment account focuses on true staples with some exposure to areas of high personal conviction. For me, that’s the semiconductor stocks. For example, my semis are sitting there in my account right next to the toothpaste, shampoo, and diet soda.

Oh, and do a lot of push-ups. Won’t help your book, but it will improve your focus. Trust me.

(Read Stephen “Sarge” Guilfoyle’s Market Recon column and trading ideas each day on Real Money , TheStreet’s premium site.)

My best advice for a bear market is:

1. Raise cash. It is never too late to sell. You can always rebuy. If you rebuy at a higher price, consider it an insurance premium.

2. Don’t get sucked into trying to predict the ultimate low. Focus on buying stocks as their chart improves. It is better to be late than early. Only amateurs try to predict exact turning points.3. Develop a shopping list of stocks that you like fundamentally but wait for some signs that the market agrees with your assessment.4. Maintain a positive mindset. Bear markets will create terrific opportunities for patient traders and investors. ( James “Rev Shark” DePorre provides market commentary and trading ideas throughout the day on Real Money, TheStreet’s premium site. Click here to learn more.) My approach to trading a bear market is straightforward. Since it’s impossible to know when or where stocks will bounce, I rely on a few moving averages to guide my trading.If the stock price is beneath its 10-day and 21-day exponential moving average (EMA), I assume sellers are in control, and I stay on the sidelines. Sure, day-trading opportunities may arise for scalpers, but swing traders […]

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