The past year hasn’t been easy for most people. With inflation surging, stock prices falling, and a recession potentially on the horizon, many investors are concerned about the future. That said, it’s possible to generate wealth in the stock market even during periods of volatility. You don’t need to be an investing expert or have loads of money — all you need is the right strategy. Here’s how to make the most of this market downturn and start building life-changing wealth. Why right now is a smart time to buy When stock prices are lower, it can be tempting to stop investing until the market stabilizes. However, now is actually one of the best times to buy stocks because prices are so low. Over the past decade, the stock market has experienced a phenomenal bull run. Besides the brief crash in March 2020, this is the first major downturn since the Great Recession. While that’s a good thing, it’s been an expensive time to buy as stock prices soared. Right now, though, is your chance to buy high-quality stocks at a fraction of the cost. The price of Amazon, for instance, is down nearly 47% from its peak, and many other stocks have seen their prices plummet by at least that much over the past year or so. In other words, if you’ve been waiting for a more affordable time to buy, you may not get a better chance than this. But investing now will not only save you money in the short term — it will also set you up for potentially lucrative returns later. Building long-term wealth in the stock market When you invest during the market’s low points, you could see substantial returns when stock prices rebound. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to build wealth, and you could earn more than you might think. For example, during the Great Recession, many stocks experienced dramatic declines. If you had invested in Amazon when it was at its lowest point in 2008, you would have earned returns of more than 370% over the next two years alone. Within five years, those returns would reach 935%. AMZN data by YCharts. Of course, not every company is going to perform as well as Amazon. But even the S&P 500 earned returns of more than 95% between 2009 and 2011 — meaning that if you had invested during the market’s lowest point, you’d have nearly doubled your money in just two years. ^SPX data by YCharts. One of the best things you can do right now, then, is invest in quality stocks and wait for the market to rebound. If you’re investing in the right places, you stand to make a lot of money during the market’s recovery period. Where to invest to maximize your earnings Everyone’s investing strategy will be different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach as to where you should invest. However, there are a few key points that are relevant to everyone, regardless of your strategy: Only invest money you’re comfortable leaving in the market: Nobody knows how long this bear market will last, and there’s always a chance that things could get worse before they get better. Before you invest, be sure you won’t need that money for the foreseeable future. Keep a long-term outlook: The market can be incredibly volatile in the near term, but over many years, it’s consistently earned positive average returns. If your investments are shaky over the next few months, that’s normal. Stay invested, try not to worry about short-term fluctuations, and keep your focus on the long-term. Invest in quality companies: The best investments are stocks from healthy companies. Businesses that have solid underlying fundamentals — such as strong financials and a competent leadership team — are more likely to recover from downturns and go on to earn the highest returns over time. It’s unclear when the market will recover, but it’s managed to bounce back from every single downturn in the past. To prepare for the upcoming bull market, the best thing you can do right now is invest in quality stocks and hold them for the long term. Over time, you could earn more than you might think. John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Katie Brockman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.