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Making Sure Your 401(k) Is OK

Monday, 13 Oct 2008 | 9:21 PM ET
Fix My Mix
CNBC's Carmen Wong Ulrich helps viewers find the right investment mix for their 401(k), with Anne Lester, JPMorgan.

If Monday’s stock market surge proved anything, it has to beCarmen’s point about sticking with it even when times are bad. After all, if you took out your investments after last week’s decline, you would have missed this rally. Now more than ever, you’ve got to make sure you have the right investment plan in place so you can weather the volatility. Stocks were up big today but they could be down again tomorrow.

In order to make sure your 401(k) is OK, you need to know where your money is and who is managing it, according to Anne Lester, a portfolio manager with JP Morgan Smart Retirement Fund. Always take advantage of the tax benefits of 401(k)s as well as employer contributions, she said. If your employer is matching 50% of what you put in, then you are automatically making a 25% return on every dollar you put in. That’s huge.

Lester recommended to those worried about watching their 401(k)s deflate that they gradually reduce their equity allocation and move that money into safer areas. But do it over time, she said. Or else you risk missing the next big upswing in the market.

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