How To Safely Invest In Meme Stocks

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So-called “meme stocks” have been all over the news in 2020 and 2021, mainly due to the wild swings in their share prices and the “rags-to-riches” stories that are widely promoted. While some dismiss the meme stock phenomenon as a fad, the truth is that these heavily hyped names can produce tremendous profits to those who are smart or lucky enough to catch them on the upswing. But given the volatility that these shares exhibit, how can you safely invest in them? Here are a few suggestions to help you succeed if you choose to invest in meme stocks.

Find Out More: How Memes Are Transforming the Stock Market
Good To Know: The Rise of Meme Stocks Highlights These 5 Things About the Stock Market

Limit Your Exposure

Trading meme stocks can be fun or even profitable if you’ve got a knack or are simply lucky enough to follow along for the ride. But investing for your retirement shouldn’t be a game. While you’re young, trading is a more feasible pastime, as you have both time to fix any missteps and, generally speaking, a steadily increasing income over your career to help supplement any lost investment funds. But even then, it’s foolish to blow away your long-term financial plan with some large, ill-timed investments. 

Building Wealth

Most financial advisors will recommend that you allocate no more than 5% or 10% of your portfolio to speculative endeavors like meme stocks. Anything more than that and you risk derailing your long-term financial goals. There’s nothing wrong with investing in meme stocks if you understand that they are speculative and you are playing with money that you are willing and able to lose. Consulting with a financial advisor about your long-term investment objectives and personal risk tolerance is a great way to begin if you’re considering going down this path.

Take a Look: The 10 Best Stocks for the Gen Z Investor
Related: Nearly 20% of Gen Z Invest In This Surprising Asset, According To New Survey

Diversify Your Choices

Although investing in meme stocks is something of a “Wild West” endeavor, you can make moves to protect your money while still participating in the explosive upside. One strategy that goes a long way is to diversify your meme stock investments. Putting all of your money into a single stock isn’t usually financially prudent, even if that stock is a blue chip like Apple. But owning a single meme stock is inviting financial disaster. If you want to play in the space, consider spreading your money out across a wide variety of names. While some might not work out, if you hit it big with one name it may more than counteract any other losses you take. 

Understand What ‘High-Risk, High-Reward’ Really Means

The expression “too much of a good thing” is normally reserved for treats like candy and ice cream but it also definitely applies to meme stocks. It’s certainly easy to wish you had your whole portfolio in a stock like GameStop when it shoots up 400% in a single week. But the stock market is never a one-way street. Plenty of investors bought in at GameStop’s peak in early 2021 — indeed, that is what helped drive the stock to its record high of $483 — and many of those same investors are still licking their wounds months later, with the stock trading at around $185 in mid-to-late October. 

If you had placed your entire retirement savings in GameStop in January 2021, you’d be sitting on a loss of about 62%. While losing nearly two-thirds of your portfolio is a crippling blow, the way the math works out, things are even worse than they seem. After taking a 62% loss, you’d have to earn 163% on your money — not “just” 62% — simply to break even. 

Building Wealth

This type of investing exemplifies the meaning of “high-risk, high-reward.” While no type of investing is inherently “good” or “bad,” you have to fully understand what you’re getting into when you buy meme stocks. Enjoy the ride, but keep your allocations limited and understand that any stock that can jump 100% or more in a single day or week is also a candidate for getting cut in half overnight as well. 

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Last updated: Oct. 21, 2021 

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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