If there’s one thing that investors seem to hate across the board, it would definitely have to be losing money on a stock. Stocks are the hot thing right now, even though that’s technically a false statement. You see, stocks have long been preferred instruments to go from zero to wealthy — as long as you pick the right ones. Everyone that has sat down for at least one financial infomercial or gone to one of those free seminars believes that they really have the secret to market timing. Unless you happen to really be a psychic, there’s really no way that you can predict which way the market is going to go. Does that mean that stocks are a waste of time — not so much.

It’s been shown that stocks have historically gone on the move upward rather than downward like some of their contemporaries — we’re looking at you, government bonds!

However, when people choose to only think about individual stocks, they’re really doing themselves a disservice. It’s really better to think about the portfolio as a whole than to just assume that everything is going to work itself out without any real strategy to it. That type of market play will lead to more and more losses as you become paralyzed with fear, unsure of really what to do with your portfolio.

Could you let an advisor handle all of your trades? Well, you could handle things with a broker if you really wanted to, but there’s really no substitute for learning when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Whether we’re talking about poker or the stock market, you need to learn how to manage your bankroll without losing it to the winds of chance too badly.

So let’s cover selling in a bit more detail. First and foremost, you should know that you really can hold onto a stock for a long time — almost indefinitely, if you so chose. However, you might find that holding onto a stock too long can really cause seriously problems when it comes to your bottom line.

You want to sell when you feel that you can do better with your money than having it in that particular stock. One scenario that comes up a lot is when people notice that a single stock is taking up close to 20% or greater of their overall portfolio. This is something that you see with tech stocks, because people tend to be afraid to let go of a real “winner”. However, volatility and the stock market go hand in hand and you have to remember that in order to keep things moving forward.

You might find that you really want to sell the stock because it’s not only taking up so much of your portfolio, but also that it’s going to end up getting you into a higher category of risk than you would like to be in. This might seem strange at first — after all, isn’t the entire stock market inherently risky? You can make this assumption but it goes a little further than that. For example, you have to think about whether or not you’re really getting all of the information that you can about a stock. If you don’t feel that the company in question is giving you that information, then how can you really tell yourself that it’s okay to sell the stock? This is just one more thing that you need to consider.

Yes, it’s a lot to think about, but knowing when to sell a stock will help you make better decisions than if you were to just sell at random. You need to look at the overall performance and history of the stock. Indeed, this means that you have to go back to charting and technical analysis, but we never said that it would effortless. In order to protect your returns, you will need to actually think about what you’re going to do day by day — even hour by hour if you need to make decisions to your portfolio that quickly.

One final note to consider here is the fact that these decisions aren’t going to be made in a vacuum. In other words, you’re going to have to most likely pay a fee to sell stocks. This fee is going to depend on where you’re trading, but those commissions can really add up. If this is going to be something that matters to you, then you need to look at the bottom line too, especially when you’re trying to turn unrealized gains into actual gains — those gains might not be as nice as you first expected.

Overall, this guide will help you figure out when to really hold a stock and when to really sell it — as long as you stick to the tips in this guide you should definitely be okay!

By Jasmina