When the stock market goes haywire, it’s tempting to stick to your portfolio to watch for price changes. But it can be a psychologically damaging practice. Investors want to stay informed, but not so much that they worry about short-term price movements. In this segment of “The 5” on Motley Fool Live checked in September 30, Fool contributors Brian Withers, Toby Bordelon and Nicholas Rossolillo explain how often they check their portfolios and why.

Brian Withers: Well that begs the question [laughs], how often do you consult your portfolio? I think the most important is how often do you do something as a result of the research? Toby, you are the first

Toby Bordelon: Yes. Honestly, I check my portfolio several times a week. This is a warning. This is my main account. I have IRAs that I look at maybe once a year. This is the main account, the main part of the wallet that I consult a few times a week, sometimes once a day. During the options exploration weeks, sometimes several times a day. Because there is a reason for it. I’m trying to decide, in which case, should I do something with it or can I just let it die by natural exhalation. It can change from day to day. Between morning and afternoon. You have to be on top of it. It’s just the nature of investing in options.

For your second question, I rarely trade, especially buying and selling real stocks. Just because I’m looking at the portfolio. Sometimes I end up doing an option trade because I’m surprised like, “Oh, wow. This price is much different from what I expected. Maybe there is something I can do there. But more often than not, even though I’m looking at options, I already know what price the underlying company is listed for, because I’ve investigated it before. It’s very, very rare, I might just have a random peek in the portfolio to get me to do something. Yes.

Withers: Costs. Nick, how about you?

Nicolas Rossolillo: Yes. I’m with Toby. It is quite rare. I watch the market, obviously every day. But my personal portfolio, maybe a few times a month, maybe once a week, twice a week like a particularly busy week. It rarely leads to real change. I rarely place a buy or sell, especially not a sale. I’d say probably 95% of the time I’m just watching to see what’s going on. Most of the time when I make a rare change it’s usually to add to a stock that I already own. Like in a month as we just had some long term businesses I like maybe a good opportunity to add some more. To answer your question, Brian, I rarely make changes. If it’s a change, it’s to add something I like.

Withers: Costs. Wait. I’m checking my portfolio here just a minute. [laughs] I check my wallet several times a day. Yes. It’s probably not something I should be doing but it does happen, especially since it’s in a Google Docs, which makes it super easy to look at. I don’t need to log into my real accounts and whatnot. I end up doing nothing. Guess it’s like watching that car crash into the side of the road, you can’t help but watch. A little bit maybe that if one title evolves differently from the others, there is usually some news behind it. I could claim this part of my job, but it’s a lame excuse for [laughs] looking at your wallet. But yes, it’s me.

Rossolillo: I’ll say that Brian. You shared this painting of the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^ GSPC) this year and car accidents. It’s hard not to like it.

Withers: Yes.

Rossolillo: As you drive down the highway, take a quick look at what’s going on there.

Withers: Exactly.

Rossolillo: There have been a lot of car accidents this year. If you are investing in growth stocks. I like to watch the Russell 2000 index, it tracks your small to small cap companies and a lot of stocks in the dumb stock market universe. Many of those stocks have fallen double-digit this year in the spring, and this month they’ve been hit by rising interest rates. Sometimes it is good to take a look a little more often, not because there is anything to worry about, but there may be some good buying opportunities for that business that you have bought and that you bought because she won’t need a lot of babysitting over the next decade.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are motley! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.


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