NASDAQ 3,000: 12 Years later

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(CBS/AP) It's time for your close-up, NASDAQ. Just two weeks after the Dow reclaimed 13,000, the NASDAQ finally closed above 3,000 (3,039.88, to be exact) for the first time since Dec. 11, 2000.

Of course then the tech-heavy index was on its way down from its all-time high of 5048.62 on March 10, 2000, almost exactly 12 years ago. The first time the index crossed the 3,000 threshold was November 1999 and today's market feels about a million miles removed from those halcyon days. Funny how two market crashes can remake the landscape, huh?

Stocks overall closed with their biggest gains this year. They rallied from the opening bell after the government said February retail sales gains were the strongest since September. JPMorgan Chase gave the rally extra juice by announcing it would raise its stock dividend.

Preliminary results show the Dow Jones industrial average closing up 218 points at 13,177. That's the highest close since the last day of 2007.

I have a confession to make about 1999: It was my least favorite year of being an investment advisor. The reason is that people were going insane, assuming way too much risk and never appreciating that a downside existed. It's also the year that I was fired by a client, who said, "Unless you can give me the same 50 percent return that I earned in my online account, I just don't need you." You can only imagine how hard it was for him to call me in 2002 and beg to come back.

As I think back to those crazy days, when greed was rampant but fear was nowhere to be found, I find comfort in the tried and true remedy to most financial ills: A solid game plan. Whether you are in the midst of a massive stock bull run/mania or are mired in a horrible market meltdown, without a long-term plan, you will flounder and fall prey to your emotions.

A comprehensive plan that incorporates a well-diversified, balanced portfolio will not shield you from the pain of being an investor, but it can help you weather the inevitable ups and downs. Your goal is to avoid falling prey to the extreme greed and fear that exists at market tops and bottoms. As you watch others get sucked in, just put your head down, adhere to the plan and remind yourself that it is rarely as good or as bad as you think.

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Editor-at-Large for CBS MoneyWatch. She covers the economy, markets, investing or anything else with a dollar sign. Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch in 2009, Jill was the chief investment officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.

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