Skip to content

Invest & Trade Smarter with Fisdom App

Get a FREE Fisdom account for Stocks, Mutual Funds & more, all in one place

Download Fisdom app

How does loss aversion affect my finances?

Written by - Marisha Bhatt

May 8, 2023 7 minutes

The awareness relating to personal finance in our country has been increasing by the day. There is more percentage of investors today than there were even 5 years back and the significant jump in this number is despite the covid pandemic and the ongoing war. However, the fear of loss is often what is the driving force for investors, especially in a country like India where investing in stock markets is still equated with gambling. So how does having a loss aversion affect your finances as an investor/trader? Read on to get answers to these questions. 

Read More: How to avoid losses in stock market?

What is loss aversion?

Loss aversion refers to the tendency of people to feel the pain of losses more intensely than the pleasure of gains. In other words, investors often feel the impact of losses more strongly than the impact of gains of equal size.

For example, if an investor buys a stock for Rs. 100 and it drops to Rs. 80, they may feel the emotional pain of the loss more acutely than they would feel the pleasure of a gain if the stock had gone up from Rs. 100 to Rs. 120.

This can lead investors to make irrational decisions, such as holding onto losing investments for too long in the hope of recovering their losses or selling winning investments too soon to lock in gains.

How does loss aversion affect personal finances?

The psychology of loss aversion can have a very adverse effect on the personal finances of a person. This impact can be explained through the following points.

Reluctance to sell losing investments

Loss aversion can cause individuals to hold onto losing investments for too long, hoping that they will eventually recover. This behavior is known as the “endowment effect,” where individuals place a higher value on something they already own, even if it’s not performing well. This can result in missed opportunities to sell and reinvest in better-performing assets. To avoid this, it’s important to set a clear exit strategy for investments, such as selling if a certain threshold is reached, and to regularly review and rebalance portfolios.

Overconfidence in winning investments

Individuals may become overconfident in their ability to pick winning investments, leading them to take on too much risk and suffer larger losses when investments do not perform as expected. This behavior is known as the “confirmation bias,” where individuals seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs and discount information that contradicts them. To avoid this, it’s important to maintain a disciplined investment approach and to regularly review and adjust investment strategies as needed.

Overemphasis on low-risk investments

Loss aversion can also lead individuals to focus too heavily on low-risk investments, such as cash or bonds, in an effort to avoid losses. While these investments may offer some protection against market volatility, they may not provide sufficient returns over the long term and may not keep pace with inflation. To balance risk and return, it’s important to diversify investments across a range of asset classes and to consider a mix of low and high-risk investments.

Overspending to avoid perceived losses

Loss aversion can also manifest in spending habits. For example, an individual may be reluctant to cancel a subscription or membership they rarely use, even if it means losing money because they perceive it as a loss. This behavior is known as the “sunk cost fallacy,” where individuals continue to invest time, money, or other resources in a project or activity because they have already invested in it. To avoid this, it’s important to regularly evaluate spending habits and to be willing to cut losses and move on from activities or subscriptions that are no longer serving their intended purpose.

How to avoid loss aversion?

Avoiding loss aversion is not a one-step procedure, it requires systematic planning to create a healthy portfolio. Investors can adopt the following steps to avoid loss aversion to ensure that it does not impact their personal finances.

Diversify your investments

Spreading the investments across a range of asset classes can help reduce the impact of any single investment performing poorly. For example, investors could invest in a mix of stocks, bonds, and real estate. This can help them avoid the temptation to hold onto losing investments for too long because the overall impact on their portfolio will be reduced.

Develop a disciplined investment approach

It’s important to have a clear investment plan that includes regular reviews and adjustments. This can help investors avoid making emotional decisions based on market fluctuations. For example, one could establish a regular review schedule, such as quarterly or annually, and stick to it. If they need to make adjustments to their portfolio, it is important to do so in a methodical and deliberate way.

Focus on long-term goals

It’s easy to become fixated on short-term fluctuations in the market, but this can lead to emotional decisions based on fear or greed. Instead, focus on your long-term financial goals, such as saving for retirement or buying a house. By keeping eye on the prize, an investor will be less likely to make emotional decisions based on temporary market movements.

Seek professional advice

Consulting with a financial advisor or other professional can help investors make more informed investment decisions and avoid emotional biases. A professional can help them assess their risk tolerance and develop an investment plan that aligns with their goals. They can also provide guidance and support during periods of market volatility, helping investors stay focused on their long-term goals.

Keep a positive mindset

It’s important to maintain a positive mindset and focus on the potential gains rather than the potential losses. This can help investors avoid loss aversion, which can cause them to hold onto losing investments for too long or avoid taking on appropriate levels of risk. By focusing on the potential rewards of investing, investors can be more likely to make rational decisions based on their long-term goals.


Loss aversion is a serious physiological roadblock in managing personal finances. However, by being aware of these behaviors and taking proactive steps to address them, individuals can make more rational, well-informed decisions that support their long-term financial goals. Booking loss on a loss-making investment and moving on to new investment opportunities is the true way to optimise available resources. 


What is the difference between risk aversion and loss aversion?

Risk aversion and loss aversion are both psychological biases that can affect our decision-making. Risk aversion refers to the tendency to avoid taking risks, even if the potential reward is high. On the other hand, loss aversion is the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains

What is a prime example of loss aversion?

One of the classic examples of loss aversion is avoiding investment in a stock that has the potential to provide higher returns simply due to the high risk or potential of losing money in such an investment.

What is the opposite of loss aversion?

The opposite of loss aversion is gain seeking or risk taking. While loss aversion means avoiding losses over acquiring gains, gain seeking means taking on risks to achieve higher returns. Gain seekers are willing to invest in high-risk, high-reward opportunities and sell investments that have increased in value to capture gains. However, gain seeking can also lead to emotional decision-making based on the lure of potential gains.

Is loss aversion part of financial market study?

Yes, loss aversion is an important concept in the study of financial markets. It has been shown to have a significant impact on investors’ decision-making, leading to behaviors such as selling winning investments too soon and holding onto losing investments for too long.

Download one of India's best wealth management apps

Join more than one million investors and take control of your wealth

Download app