Opening the 401k Statement

Have you looked at your latest 401k statement?

You can turn that into a joke about bravery ... laughter often eases misery for some people.

But it remains a serious matter. For many, the recent market hit to saving plans means lost retirements, homes, and living standards.

We have some advice on how to deal, psychologically and financially, with 401k losses. But we'd also like to hear from our readers about what kind of damage they are seeing and perhaps what they are doing about it.

Why does everyone treat this as the first time it has ever happened? Resist the urge to sell everything and instead buy more! This is a FANTASTIC time to make some money...even for the people close to retiring! — Zach


Most 401k's have a "money market" or similar cash-equivalent account. You should have moved out of stocks into that 12-18 months ago when it was becoming obvious that the problems were big and getting bigger. — Bill

I've found a way to make my employer pay for all of my losses in my 401K plan. It's called "Freedom of Information" and knowing how the DOL regulations give you a "loophole" to make your employer pay... and it works! — Gregg

I have done quite well, and actually this my absolute very best year ever. — Clark

People who must push back retirement because of stock market losses have only themselves to blame...Remember, if you need the money in the next 10 years, you can't afford to have it in the stock market. — Vinnie

I'm 68 years old and still working. I was planning to retire at 70, now at 73,74. I'm down 18% in my 401. Hopefully I won't get laid off. — Bob

I'm disgusted and tired of trying to figure out what to do with my 401K and the financial planners are basically trying to advise based on previous knowledge as they do not know either, but they will be making lots of money on those of us who are looking for reasonable advice. — Joanne

This problem was easy to see coming. I've been 100% money market for about 18 months. I may have missed the top, but I missed the pain as well. — Bob

Now is not the time to sell. The market will recover in due time. Stop panicking. — Barry

In the last 3 months, I have lost about 40%, which ends up being equivalent to the last 4 years of contributions. Its a little depressing, but I'm only 33, so there is plenty of time for recovery. — Adam

Great time for people under 50... I work for a pension company and people have been worried, but remember the goal of this game is to buy low and sell high!! — Joe P

I follow my investments daily. I am about 10 years from retirement and am diversified & have lost about 30%. Can we trust wall street anymore? I don't think anyone saw this type of a crash coming. — Jeff

I have lost 60% of what I had saved in my life...I am 45 and I am nervous. — Martin

Yes; I have been buying stock funds during the last two months. In five years, my portfolio will grow 50%. I love the bear market. It is a buying opportunity! Generation-X'ers should be excited. — Craig

I am 58 and I have my own IRA's as I have never been able to be in 401k. I am down 40% but as soon as 2009 comes I will buy more to average out as I don't plan to retire till 70. — Eric

I am under 40, so I am really not worried about my 401K. In fact, I see this as a tremendous buying opportunity. I have increased my contribution to 21%... — Garrett

If you are not retiring in the next 10 years, don't reveiw your 401K daily, weekly or even monthly. If history repeats itself, you will be rewarded more than generously when the market returns to the mid teens as you continue to buy at these historical lows. — Mark

The first time I heard the words subprime and housing bubble used in the same sentence on CNBC I went to cash. I haven't lost a cent! If I had listened to all the stock experts my retirement funds would be down 30 to 40%. I learned my lesson from the tech bubble! — Jon

In December 2007, I moved my 401K mutual fund selections to the money market fund. I'm making 3% and haven't lost a dime. I plan to reinvest when the dow hits 4000. — Dave

I wish I had not looked at my 401K and IRA - I did have almost 500K and at last look had lost about 35%. I am within 5 years of retirement and I am angry. — Lucinda

Down 30% but remain in an active trade mode. (50 years old) I wouldn't sell anything at these levels, but am a short term buyer thanks to a large cash position. What scares me are the millions of 401k holders with very little to work with. —Joe

I've recently increased my 401k from 8% to 15% and reallocated my future contributions into more moderate options versus high-risk. I have 20 years before I retire, stocks are on sale now, buy low! The world will continue to spin! — Brian

I've lost 48% of everything but Obama is going to tax the rich and give me my poor money back. — Brent

Everything in my previous 401K has been cash since August 07. Managed to make 4% during that time period. In my current 401k with a different employer I have been down as much as 50% because the new money was invested in stocks and commodities. Since October I have now moved all new money to T-bills and left the rest as is. What a waste. Buy and hold is dead. We now have to learn to trade 401k's as opposed to invest. — Ken

...This crash was to be expected and anyone following the "diversify, re-balance and forget about your 401k" mantra pushed by so many investment advisers, you only have yourself to blame for 40%+ losses. — Andrew