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Welcome to the Fool TheMathMan. You wrote:
This is my first post. My first visit, acually. My question, Fools, relates to the oft repeated phrase, "invest for the long term." My wife and I are long term investors, but are inching nearer to early retirement--about 3 to 4 years away.

Since the current bull run is now in about it's tenth year or so, is it reasonable to think a bear run could last that long? It seems many of the old rules are changing. Should we be converting some assets to lower-yielding but principal-protected instruments?

In a nutshell, when is long term not long enough?

>>>This is such an individualized question that any boilerplate answer is just not sufficient. IMHO you should never expose yourelf to more risk than what you need to. Therefore, you should reverse engineer this thing. The first thing you should do is calculate your retirement needs. Are you where you need to be yet? If you have already met your target number then you probably want very little in the stock market. On the other hand, if you are far short of what you will need then you probably need to be more aggressively invested. Because each investor is unique, and, in particular, risk tolerances vary so greatly, you need to get a grip on your true risk tolerance. I leave you to define what "more aggressively invested" means to you. IMHO, if you are already where you need to be, protect your principle. If you are not where you need to be, then only you can decide what investments will give you the returns you need while taking into consideration your risk tolerance. Please note that I spoke in terms "needs" rather than "wants". Don't let your "wants" cloud your judgments on your "needs".
Just one Fool's opinion.
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