We've now all seen first hand what a panic sell off in the stock market looks like. For anyone who owns stocks, they've also felt what it FEELS like too: a tight feeling of uneasiness and helplessness that sticks with you the whole day and makes sleeping at night a very difficult.

There is no doubt that the 500 and 600 point down days on Wall Street we have just seen were based on economics and news but fueled mostly by sheer panic. After all, nothing really changed in the last week or so except a lot of added coverage of the debt ceiling debate and the credit downgrade over the weekend. These problems have been years in the making and aren't brand new. But the wall to wall coverage spooked people and made them want out at any cost.

Fear and greed are primary motivators in the stock market and right now fear is on display for all to see. If you are thinking of buying, you might want to wait a bit because it might not be over. As I write this the market has just given back all of it's 200+ point gain on Tuesday and is now down close to 200. My advice? Don't get too greedy just yet because you might get burned as we could have more down days ahead.

If you want to be a long term investor, you have to have the ability to sit back and do nothing. You have to have the stomach to take the losses when the world looks like it is ending. You have to have the confidence that with time, the market will come back. There is no guarantee of course. But history has shown that so far, the stock market has ALWAYS come back. You really should have a long investing time horizon so that you can wait these things out.

In times of high volatility like these, there is a lot of added interest in stocks. People who aren't lifetime investors see the market as the lead story on all newscasts, newspapers, and of course the Internet. They get interested in maybe picking up a stock or two while it is on sale. But what they really should be doing is picking up a copy of Stocks For Dummies or some other such book and learning the basics first. Don't just jump in without knowing the risks, especially at a time like this!

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