Sunday, October 19, 2008
Today's 401(k) Conversation
I had a conversation this afternoon with a former co-worker about his 401(k), the current economy, and his future. He's a bright guy, but not exactly money-savvy, and is pretty darned impulsive. Here's how it went:
Him: My 401(k) has plummetted recently. I've lost about $35,000 just in the last several weeks.
YFNN: I'm sure. Everybody's getting hit hard.
Him: It's ridiculous. I can't stand losing that much. I'm thinking about pulling it all out and buying a rental property.
YFNN: WHAT?!? Are you crazy?
Him: At this rate, I won't have anything left in a couple months. Why not? I can try to find a foreclosure or something.
YFNN: First of all, you buying a foreclosure is a disaster. Second, pulling out of the market now is crazy. The rule about making money in the stock market is simple: Buy low, sell high. If you sell out now, you're doing the exact OPPOSITE.
Him: I just don't like it.
YFNN: So don't look at your account for a while, like six months or so. In the meantime, keep on making contributions.
Him: That's stupid. I've already stopped adding more. Why would I put money in it just to lose it?
YFNN: Because the market is LOW. Stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, they're all basically on sale for 30% off! If you continue to contribute, you're lowering your cost basis. You're buying things low, to sell them high. You've got decades to recover from this. Do you honestly think that the market won't recover by 2040 when you retire? Please.
Him: I guess. The news just drive me nuts though.
YFNN: If we were close to retirement it'd be different, but we've both got plenty of time to see some real gains. I've even stepped my contributions up in the last couple of weeks. You've just got to hang in there, regardless of what that airhead Katie Couric says to try to scare you.
This has got to be the overall attitude from most folks around me, and I can certainly understand why since the "sky-is-falling" media is playing the market woes up for all their worth. But, if you're 50 or younger, you've got to remember to be a long-term investor. That money you're pumping into your IRAs and 401(k)s and such is meant to be for retirement, not for next year. Continue to invest now, while prices are low, and be well-positioned for the recovery!