04/16/2014 02:08 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2014

Avoid the Freak Out!

Here we go again! Well there is no doubt that the stock market has entered correction mode! Brilliant statement, right?

Unfortunately, this one may smack a few investors in the face. Why? Well, we haven't had a substantial correction in quite some time.

By definition, most would agree that a correction is 10 percent or more. In my previous post, "The Most Dangerous Time In The Stock Market," I talked about being lulled to indifference by a long stretch of good times. So when a correction takes place after these long calm times, investors tend to freak out.

While in the middle of these declines, it's absolutely impossible to judge whether it's a slight dip or the beginning of a more prolonged corrections.

First, I want to share some statistics regarding how often the market corrects. Then, I will give you some suggestions on how to take advantage of the correction without the freak out part.

Here are some stock market correction stats:

  • 10 percent Corrections happen once per year and last over 100 days
  • 15 percent Corrections happen once every two years and last over 200 days
  • 20 percent Corrections happen once every three and half years and last over 300 days

Remember, each correction will be different. They will have different lengths, frequencies and intensities.

Now I want to share some tips for avoiding the freak out and taking advantage of the correction:

1. Invest regularly. Whether times or good or bad, you have the ability to make additional contributions to an IRA or a 401(K). Adding money during a decline allows you to buy more shares while the prices are on sale. Instead of giving in to the freak out during a dip, think of it as an opportunity to pick up some stuff cheap!

2. Avoid jumping in and out. Market timing is a fool's game. You will do more damage getting in and out of the market. If you are long-term investor, stay put and weather the storm. Getting out when times are bad is fairly easy. It's knowing when it's time to get back in that is the challenge.

3. Consider international investments or alternatives. If you think that the U.S. market is not doing well, why not add international investments to your portfolio? Not every country on the planet is in corrective mode. This may be the portion of your portfolio that performs well and helps your overall return. Consider adding some alternative investments, like commodities, managed futures or REITs. Most of these don't move with the market. They do their own thing and may make money when the stock market is declining.

4. Talk to your financial advisor. Your advisor will definitely have some words of encouragement that will make you feel better. An advisor can give you the perspective you need when you feel the urge to freak out over a market correction. Have the advisor do an update on your financial plan. That way you can see just how much a correction affects your long-term goals.

Remember, market corrections are a part of investing, like it or not. Stick with your plan. If you like my article, subscribe here for free! I'll have my virtual paperboy throw them in your inbox every Friday!

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