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How Often Should You Look at Your Investment Portfolio?

When the stock market goes haywire, it's tempting to stay glued to your portfolio to watch price changes. But this can be a psychologically damaging practice. Investors want to stay informed, but not so much that they fret over short-term price moves. In this segment from "The 5" on Motley Fool Live recorded Sept. 30, Fool contributors Brian Withers, Toby Bordelon, and Nicholas Rossolillo talk about how often they check their portfolios and why.

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Brian Withers: Well, that begs the question [laughs], how often do you check your portfolio? I think really more importantly is how often do you do something as a result of looking? Toby, you're up first

Toby Bordelon: Yeah. Honestly I check my portfolio several times a week. This is a caveat to that. It's my main account. I have IRAs that maybe once a year I look at those. Those are the main account, the main part of portfolio I'm checking a couple times a week, sometimes once a day. During options exploration weeks, sometimes multiple times a day. Because there's a reason for that. I'm trying to decide, in that case, do I need to do something with this or can I just let it die a natural expiration. That can change from day-to-day. Sometime between the morning and the afternoon. You have to be on top of that. It's just the nature of investing in options.

To your second question, I rarely make trades, especially buying and selling actual stocks. Just because I'm looking at the portfolio. Sometimes I end up doing an option trade because I'm getting surprised like, "Oh, wow. That price is way different than what I expected. Maybe there's something I can do there." But more often, like even if I'm looking at options, I already know what the underlying company is priced at, because I've already been investigating it. It's very very rare, I just might random glance through the portfolio will cause me to do something. Yeah.

Withers: Cool. Nick, what about you?

Nicholas Rossolillo: Yeah. I'm with Toby. It's pretty 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 on like an especially busy week. It rarely leads to an actual change. I'm rarely placing a buy or sell, especially not a sell. I'd say probably like 95 percent of the time I'm just looking just to see what's going on. Most of the time when I am making a rare change is usually to add to a stock that I already own. Like in a month like we've just had some long term companies that I like might be a good opportunity to add a little bit to it. To answer your question, Brian, rarely am I making any changes. If it is a change is to add something that I like.

Withers: Cool. Hang on. I'm checking my portfolio here just a minute. [laughs] I check my portfolio several times a day. Yeah. It's probably not something that I should do but it happens, especially since it's in a Google Docs, which makes it super easy to look at. I don't have to log into my actual accounts and what not. I don't end up doing really anything. I guess it's like watching that car crash on the side of the road, you can't help but look. A little bit might be if one stock is moving differently from the others, there's usually some news behind it. I could claim this part of my job, but it's a lame excuse for [laughs] looking at your portfolio. But yeah, that's me.

Rossolillo: I will say this Brian. You were sharing that chart of the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) this year and car crashes. It's hard not to like that.

Withers: Yeah.

Rossolillo: As you're driving on the highway, and just take a quick peak what's going on over there.

Withers: Exactly.

Rossolillo: There have been a lot of car crashes this year. If you invest in growth stocks. I like to look at the Russell 2000 Index, it tracks your more small-cap, smaller companies and a lot of Foolish stock universe stocks are in there. A lot of those stocks have dropped by big double-digits this year, back in the spring, and this month they've gotten hit as interest rates have creeped up again. Sometimes it is nice to just take a little bit more frequent peek not because there's anything there to worry about, but there might be some good buying opportunities there for that company that you bought and you bought it because it's not going to need a lot of baby sitting in the next decade.

Brian Withers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Nicholas Rossolillo and his clients have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Toby Bordelon has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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