Talk about frequently asked questions. Here’s one we hear often in the financial planning business: “Is now the time to dive into the stock market?”

Appropriate timing for an investment depends far more on individual circumstances than on money flows or the latest direction of the stock market.

It is primarily a financial planning question. Do you have an emergency fund set up? Do you have the right insurance coverage in place? Have you articulated long-term goals? What are your large cash flow needs in the next three-to-seven years? The answers to these questions should determine your investment planning, (when, where, and how much). You need to ask yourself, “Where am I going long term?” as opposed to, “Where is the market going short term?”

The phrase “dive into the stock market” unfortunately apt to a lot of consumers whose financial behavior is dictated primarily by fear or greed. A lot of consumers have been waiting since 2008 or 2009 to “get back in,” when in reality they should have never been out.