Attention, discount shoppers, the recent stock market dive is like a holiday weekend sale. This is your chance to get stocks for less.

There has been a lot of advice for investors. Don’t panic, the experts say.

“Stay the course. This is normal, despite the very placid market environment we saw in 2017. Markets go up and down, not just up,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. “But they go up a lot more than they go down, so hang in there and consider buying more.”

But what about the folks who don’t have any money in the market? What should they be doing?

If you’re not in the stock market, now is the time to go shopping. Stocks are on sale.

“Although a massive market drop can be attention-grabbing, it can also present a buying opportunity,” wrote Kathryn Vasel, personal finance reporter for CNNMoney.

As Scot Lance, managing director at Titus Wealth Management, told Vasel: “The stock market is the only place I’ve ever seen where when something goes on sale, no one will touch it. But if the price is going up, that is when everyone wants to buy it.”

“Before the 2008 financial crisis, 62 percent of U.S. adults, on average, said they owned stocks. Since then, the average has been 54 percent, including lows of 52 percent in 2013 and 2016. Given that relatively few Americans in lower-income households invested in stocks before the 2008 financial crisis and upper-income households show no change in ownership, it follows that middle- and upper-middle-income households have largely driven the decline in stock ownership.”

So what can you do if you’re not in the market? Here’s some advice.

Color of Money question of the week
Let’s help folks who think they can’t afford to invest. What have you gained from investing? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. In the subject line, put “Reasons to Invest.” Please include your name, city and state. All opinions are welcome, but please keep your comments civil.

Live chat today
Let’s talk about your financial future. I’m live today from noon to 1 p.m. (Eastern time).

Joining me today will be John Hope Bryant, founder and chief executive of Operation HOPE, an organization dedicated to economic empowerment for low- to moderate-income individuals and families in underserved communities.

We will be discussing Bryant’s book, “The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation.” It was the Color of Money Book Club pick last month.

Click this link to join the discussion.

Trump’s statements on the financial State of the Union: Fact or Fiction?
What a difference a week makes.

Last week, in his State of the Union address, President Trump was singing the praises of the stock market. His tweets bragged that it was roaring because of his policies.

“The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value,” he said. “That is great news for Americans’ 401(k), retirement, pension and college savings accounts.”

That was then. This is now.

The market showed him who was boss.
Trump’s Dow fall

As Josh Hafner wrote in USA Today, “The Dow giveth, and the Dow taketh away: The Dow Jones industrial average saw its worst single-day point drop ever on Monday, plummeting 1,175 points and erasing all of its 2018 gains. You remember the 2018 gains, right? You might have heard about them from President Trump. Or President Trump. Or maybe even President Trump. If Trump deserves credit for a rising stock market — and experts, those pests, say he does not — then logically, critics said, he deserves credit for a historic plunge, too.”

Trump had been silent on the Dow’s slide down. Then he tweeted.

“Trump focused Americans’ retirement concerns on the stock market, even though the average older American worker has only $15,000 saved in their 401(k) and IRA accounts, but will receive approximately $300,000 – $750,000 worth of insurance from Social Security and Medicare,” wrote Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor who focuses on retirement security. “I worry Social Security and Medicare may face actual cuts when the deficit-inflating tax cuts kick in.”

Wednesday saw ups and downs in the market filling closing down.

At The Washington Post’s Thomas Heath and Emily Rauhala reported, “The Dow moved nearly 500 points during trading Wednesday before closing down 19 points, or .08 percent, at 24,893. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index didn’t move far off its baseline, closing down 13 points, or 0.5 percent. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq struggled to stay in positive territory all day and lost 63 points, or 0.9 percent, by end of trading.”

Last week, I asked: Were you encouraged by Trump’s enthusiasm for the economy during his State of the Union address?

Ted wrote, “I watched the whole thing and listened to him bragging about all his accomplishments, listening to him not explain anything he had done to make all these wonderful things happen. Obviously, he never did, because I know that in order to get much of those statistics it will take nearly a year to come up with anything conclusively.”

“It’s depressing that so many people are upset over a good economy just because Trump is the president,” wrote James Pritchett of Austin.

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

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Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a live chat every Thursday at noon in which she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

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