Do you have cash that really should be invested?
Maybe you made an annual contribution to your IRA and never invested it, or you took your required minimum distribution at the end of 2018 and left it in cash because markets were so volatile.
Or perhaps you panicked in December and sold some of your stock funds, and now you’re regretting it.
While a money-market fund may be a good place to park the cash you plan to spend in the next few months, it is not a good place for your long-term money.
Make a plan to get invested
Now is the time to think through how you’ll get more fully invested. It helps to decide up front what funds you’ll buy and when you’ll buy them. This sounds straightforward, but it’s often where people get stuck.
Some people spend so much time trying find the ideal fund to own and the optimal time to invest that by the time they’re ready to invest, the market’s changed or the funds they’d planned to buy are no longer highly ranked. Others get invested without really thinking it through, and they may buy into riskier funds in an attempt to make up for lost time. But if markets pull back, they could end up facing losses.
Your goal should be to get invested in a way that can help you stay invested, even if the market falls again. Here are two ways to do so:
Start with more conservative funds
Often people hold cash because they aren’t sure what else to do with their money. They know that cash isn’t going to do much for them long term, but they also don’t want to risk the kind of losses they’ve seen in the stock market last quarter. Given this, it may make sense to start investing in more conservative funds.
Balanced funds can be a good starting point because these funds typically aren’t fully invested in stocks. You might also consider preferred stock funds, which pay a fixed dividend like bonds, and alternative funds, which use options, arbitrage or alternative assets as a hedge against volatility rather than relying solely on bonds.
These funds have historically held up better during selloffs than fully invested stock funds or the stock market as a whole. They also have greater growth potential over time than cash or bonds, though most aren’t designed to beat the market over the long run.
Plan out when you’ll invest
When should you put your cash to work? In hindsight, it’s probably easy to spot buying opportunities, but in the moment, it rarely feels like the ideal time to get started.
The reality is, you may never truly feel certain about buying in, but you still need to do it if you hope to get ahead. So, start gradually: commit to invest part of your cash on a set schedule (once a week, twice a month, monthly or even quarterly).
This approach is called dollar-cost averaging because you’ll buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, which can reduce your average cost per share. The real advantage of this approach, however, is that it can help you take action sooner than later.
If you stand on the sidelines waiting for the perfect day to come along, you might look up to find the parade has passed you by.
Keep an eye on trading fees & monitor your funds over time
You’ll want to keep an eye on trading fees, however. If you’re buying into a fund that has a transaction fee at your broker, you’ll be charged that fee every time you buy—and that can add up. Also, when it comes time to sell a fund that you’ve added to over time, you may need to sell out in stages to make sure you don’t get hit with a redemption fee.
Remember that markets will change over time and the funds that are doing well now won’t always be in favor, so you’ll want to monitor your funds regularly and make any necessary changes.
A version of this post originally appeared on Forbes.