With the recent turmoil in the stock, bond, and real estate markets it is a good time to review one of the most important tenets of successful investing; minimizing your losses.
The math of losses works in a funny way. If you lose 10% on your investment, a 10% gain does not make you even. It takes a little over 11% to be even. If you lose 20% it takes a 25% gain just to be even, and if you lose 50% it takes a 100% gain just to get back to even.
That's why you should have a strategy to protect yourself when things inevitably go wrong. 10%-15% gains in the stock market come along fairly frequently, but 25% plus gains are very rare. If you can implement a disciplined strategy to protect yourself from large losses you can be ahead while everyone else is still working to make it back to even.