Frankly, at this point, I've been investing for so many years that I'm no stranger to periods of stock market unrest, or even full-blown crashes. When you're new to investing, the idea of stock values dropping substantially can be extremely worrisome. The S&P 500 index (which consists of the 500 largest publicly traded companies and is considered an accurate measure of the broad market's performance) has been through 26 bear markets -- periods where it's lost 20% of its value or more -- since 1928.
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