Keep Your Profits
It looks like we have now entered a new bull phase in the stock market and I have a question for you. Will you give back the profits that you make this time as you did in 2000? You sure don't want to, but you are not going to get any help from your broker.
We saw the technology stocks and many mutual funds lose about 80% of their value. Many people did not want to open their monthly brokerage statements and I couldn't blame them. Were there any way those losses could have been avoided? You betcha, but you won't hear that from your broker.
There is what I call portfolio insurance. It doesn't cost any thing and anyone can have it at no charge. Brokerage companies don't want you to use it much less even find out about it. It is a way of protecting your cash from being eaten by that nasty bear.
While the market is going up you don't even think about any financial calamity, but history has shown as far back as you want to look that the stock market goes up and it also goes DOWN. Over long periods of time it does increase at about 6% per year (including dividends and the inflation factor). During the 90's everyone was a financial genius and saw their accounts going up about 12% per year or more. That is not a sustainable pattern. Those periods do occur and are followed by years of declining prices. You don't want to own stock then, do you?
What you have to decide is how much are you willing to give up before you decide to sell. How much of your money are you willing to risk from here where you are right now. Is it 2%, 5%, 10%, 20% or more? In 2000 we saw $200 stocks go down to $5.00. You sure don't want to take that ride again.
After you make your decision you call your broker and tell (not ask) him you want to place a trailing stop loss order of 7% (whatever) on your position. Most assuredly he will try to talk you out of doing it. That 7% (?) is your insurance that you won't have to sit through a 20%, 40% or more down draught.
He will not "watch your account". That is your money not his. If you care about it you are the only one who will watch it. Place your open stop-loss order and keep your profits.