One of the frustrating ironies of a recessionary cycle is the way in which very natural and very human–and in some cases very necessary–responses to lean economic times can have an adverse impact. Actions that would be questionable investment decisions even in a booming economy can be particularly harmful during a downturn, and therefore it is always a good idea to take the time to remind yourself of the basic bedrock rule of investing: Buy Low and Sell High. Because when you pull money out of a struggling market to live off of in a downturn, you are engaging in behavior that is precisely the opposite of what would be recommended under buy low/sell high fundamentals. It is also important to remember that while long-term trends are important, what those trends mean for you is all that matters with respect to your financial well being. If you look at a chart of stock market performance throughout the 20th Century, things look great: some ups and downs, but an overall climb. Here’s the problem though: you aren’t going to be retiring for 100 years, and you don’t want to be caught out in one of the 20-year cycles where there is a dip in the trend line. If you are close to retirement, the simple facts are that your options are also more limited, as you just don’t have the time to make up a big loss. Just as you should remember to buy low, sell high, and avoid overreacting, it is also important to remember to reduce your exposure and get more conservative with your investing as retirement age approaches.