If your retirement is more than a decade away, the ability to make up what you have lost in the tumbling markets is still possible.
Now is the time, financial planners say, to rebuild your portfolio right.
"We're trying to make sure everybody stays calm and not make emotional decisions with their investments," Jackie Fiore, a financial adviser with Edward Jones Investments in Wildwood, said of her clients. "This economy is something that will eventually turn around."
For starters, Fiore said, workers should keep investing in their 401(k)s, even if their employers decided to stop a matching contribution. With fewer employers offering pensions, having a tax-deferred retirement account such as a 401(k) can still help savings grow into the future - despite the value of such accounts having plummeted because of the stock market.
This year, workers can contribute as much as $16,500 toward their 401(k); those age 50 or older can contribute as much as $22,000.
But expectations that you will get an average 10 percent annual return on your investment has been scaled back by some experts to 7 percent or
8 percent because of market losses.
There are even calls to reform 401(k)s, with some critics arguing they should be replaced in favor of a government-run retirement program.
But if you have looked at your latest statement, you may be pleasantly surprised: The advance of the stock market recently has had a positive effect on returns.
Even if we remain in an unfriendly bear market, Fiore said, younger investors still are able to afford to take a hit since their retirement is decades away.
"Depending on someone's age, they can have maybe 10 to 50 percent of their portfolio in stocks," she added. "Stocks are the only thing that will give you that long-term growth that you need, and they're the only thing that allows you to have rising incomes through the dividends that are paid out."
To protect your assets, some advisers suggest keeping your stock portion split between domestic and international funds, with more in the U.S. market.
George Leupold, of Leupold Financial Planning Associates in Somers Point, said annuities are another financial product to consider if you have significant savings, although they carry various penalties and should be thoroughly researched.
An annuity is a contract with an insurance company guaranteeing buyers an income for the rest of their lives. The buyers contribute a principal, and depending on the plan, are paid out a portion of that money plus an interest at a predetermined retirement date.
Buyers can choose a fixed annuity, which is essentially like having your money earn interest in a money market fund or certificate of deposit, except it is not covered by the FDIC. While the interest rate can vary, this annuity is considered a more conservative investment.
On the other hand, a variable annuity is for growth investors. A buyer can invest money in so-called sub-accounts, which are sort of like mutual funds in stocks, bonds and money markets. There is an opportunity to earn more or lose more, depending on how the account is performing.
In both cases, earnings are tax-deferred, meaning you don't pay taxes until your payout begins. Also, your earnings are able to compound more over time since they are not being taxed.
Leupold said someone interested in an annuity should have enough money to pour thousands of dollars into a plan and not count on it as immediate income. Annuities can come with early withdrawal penalties.
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