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Our Retirement Expert Answers Your Questions

I am 70 yrs and due to govt. regulations I must withdraw 10% of my 401(k) within 6 months. I can manage without withdrawing this money and would like to leave it in as it is down 40%. Is there any way to avoid the withdrawal? --Dawn, CA

Dawn, there was some talk by the presidential candidates during the campaign that they may try to waive the RMD for 2008. As I mentioned in a prior posthowever, I don't see it happening this year. There's just too much work that needs to be done to make it happen in such a short period of time and the government desperately needs your tax money. The upside is that if there are no changes to the rule and no substantial change in your account value, the RMD you take in 2009 (using your 12/31/08 balance as the benchmark), will be greatly reduced. Please coordinate this RMD with a qualified tax advisor. --Bill

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Mac, that younger generation of baby boomers (age 50-65) monopolizes my time because they're my area of specialization. Regardless of your age or assets, I'd recommend you speak with and hire a trusted Certified Financial Planner practitioner in your city; preferably one with 10 or more years experience and a clean compliance record. He/she can provide personalized recommendations, direction and strategies to help you weather this mess better than I can in just a few sentences here. You can start your search at www.cfp.net or www.fpanet.org. --Bill

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I am 63, single, and unemployed. I have an annuity with Mass Mutal and two IRAs. I freaked out when I started losing and sold all my stock and left my annuity in all bonds. It doesn't fluctuate that much but what if the market collapsed? I am only 22% in stocks in my IRA. I don't trust my advisors--any of them. They all say they are fully invested (and they have plenty of bucks.) I talked with one about putting my money into a Guaranteed account for 3%, but I don't know. Longevity is in our family. My grandmother lived until 94. I will work again. I have too. I don't have very much in social security. --Carol

Since you don't trust any of your advisors why stay with them? Carol, you need to find someone who will listen to you, educate you, direct you and give you a coordinated plan of action. At the present time, you are very emotional. These emotions are preventing you from thinking and acting clearly. A trusted advisor can act as a buffer between your emotions and investing behavior. If he/she is any good they will recommend that you maintain at least 40% of your portfolio in stocks to try to keep pace with inflation. With longevity in your family, you will need this kind of inflation hedge. In the meantime, get aggressive with your job search. Unemployment is expected to rise and the job market will become tighter meaning it may take longer for you to secure a position. Start your planner search at www.cfp.net or www.fpanet.org. --Bill

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Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning expert on CNBC’s “On the Money”. He has been named one of America’s Top Financial Planners and is the author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional. He also publishes Retirement Intelligence, a free weekly award-winning newsletter. Bill can be reached online at www.MyRetirementSuccess.com.