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I'm 25 and married and just lost a big chunk of my 401k this week with Wall Street going down. I have contributed $2800 this year and my investment year-to-date is now a loss of $1140. I have a diversified portfolio, but am considering moving everything into the Fixed Rate Fund for a little while so I'm not losing anything. I can invest in the other funds in 30 days. How does this sound?
Sorry to hear this, most of the world is in the same boat. A lot of people talk about pulling out and re balancing when the market is down. This is really something that needs to be done from day 1. The best thing to do is dollar cost average, pay attention to what you are investing in. retirement, I tell people that they should be indexing 1/2 or more of their portfolio using index funds such as the S&P 500.
Pay no attention to Crush and listen to me. Actually, if what you have is a real "money market" fund you migth be OK, because money market funds are basically the equivalent of actual money -and their returns are based on a fairly low rate of interest -like a savings account. But what you MIGHT have is a stock or bond fund, and if that is SO, then your assets may show the recent drop in the stock market, brought about by the scary situation with major banks, the wacky mortgages and all that. So ... the question is, what is really in that 401k? But now, let's address the whole bail out situation and hopefully Blue Crush and others will calm down a bit. Here's the nut, pure and simple: Banks and other lenders loaned money to people who could not afford to pay it back once the first year or two of low payments was gone. Of course, many belived that they could simply re-fi again -and yet again- to keep a low payment while their houses became more valuable. But go figure: the chickens will come home to roost at some point because the lenders are no more able to survive on those low initial payments coming in, then the borrowers can tolerate HIGH payments going out. This is NOT rocket science. So the original lenders who had their butts on the line sold the mortgages to others at some figure which was, obviously, less then what the mortgage was worth -assuming it would be paid off as agreed. So they got money right away, and the risk of collection was transferred to someone else. This entire process, covering millions of mortgages and billions of dollars, is handled as if the underlying mortgages themselves were a commodity like orange juice or pork bellies or aluminum ingots. But when it came time to pay the big payments, borrowers could not do it -and started to default. All those mortgages were like lotto tickets -that didn't pay off. Their value had to be written down from what they shooda been to what they actually were. Good bye, billions of dollars. What with collateral no worthless -who wants to loan money to the holder of those mortgages? Nobody, that's who. Credit is a huge compoent of the economy. No credit, no loans; no loans means no investment in plant, equipment and labor. The economy can't run, period. Someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay. The homeowners? They don't have the money -that's why they are in default. The stockholders? Yep -they pay in the form of share values which take a dive. But that doesn't actually put any bucks in anyone's pocket. So, whose got the money? Who? The banks have money, that's WHO. But the problem is that the biggest banks are (in many cases) the ones who hold this worthless paper. What are they going to do? Steal the dollars from their depositor's accounts? And that leaves the government. Which is to say, all of us, the taxpayers. And the fact is that we will have to pay, ONE WAY new-jersey ANOTHER. If not by funding a govt bail-out, then by the loss of our jobs, the loss of the value of our investments, the loss of a big economic depression. So, the bail out is an attempt to confine the impact of the worthless mortgages into something more manageable. The government will hold the paper and try to figure out some way to make it pay. Meanwhile, the money they loan to the banks is by no means free -Uncle Sam gets 11% on it -if the banks can pay it. I must confess I am amused at the idea that it costs the bank more to borrow then it costs me. Are the "fat cats" getting a free ride here? Maybe. But let me ask you, what other cats are there to keep this ship afloat? And, putting those knuckleheads in jail will by no means resolve the economic problem. Finally, we must be aware that for every fat cat there are several thousand skinnier ones who actually do the day-to-day work. The moral is that it makes more sense to use the existing financial infrastructure to get this deal done then it does to tear it apart -its the only ship we have to float right now. And guess what? It might not work. There could be a real hum-dinger of a depression ANYWAY. This is beyond John McCain and Barrack Obama -neither can simply sit down in the oval office and by their mere presence tell the problem to go away. The problem was caused by the greed of people who wanted more than they could afford, and the avarice of those who sold it to them. Millions and millions of people. The chickens have come home to roost.
Retirement funds have one basic rule: buy and hold. The market just went down. Why would you sell what you have and invest in something that's not going to go up? You're 25. Ignore the fluctuations. You don't need to worry about them until you're at least 50 years old. Just make sure that you're well-diversified by investing in several quality funds.
Buy and Hold. If you pull out now you lose. Do not worry. Market is cyclical. You have a long time for retirement. Stay put!