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The ride is scary...But jumping out of your seat now could be deadly!
The ride is scary…. But jumping out of your seat now could be deadly!
Many employers sponsor some type of a retirement plan that allows their employees to invest the employee’s dollars, as well as benefit from additional contributions made by the employer.  The combination of the two will usually make up the lion’s share of an employee’s retirement savings.  Most of these savings are invested in the stock market via mutual funds.  And, as we are all aware, lately the stock market has performed like an amusement park ‘thrill ride’.  Like all great thrill rides, it has provided an experience that is both exhilarating, and at times frightening.
So what can you do to help yourself and your employees hang on for ‘the ride’?
 DON’T PANIC!  The worst thing we can do is to over-react to what is currently happening.  Bailing out of the market when prices are down would be the same as selling your house, car or business for a much lower price than they are worth.  Stay invested and keep investing!
The decrease in the value of your assets is not only frustrating, but also frightening.  It is natural to be fearful that you are going to lose it all.  This fear can sometimes lead to the mind set of taking your investment out of the market so at least you don’t loose it all.  Don’t make this mistake.  Allow the market to adjust while you keep investing.  Think of it as if the stock market is having a huge after Christmas sale.  If you are buying shares at a much lower value than they are worth, eventually you will hold more shares in your retirement plan, and have a larger asset when the market does adjust upward.
STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW!  If you have never purchased individual stocks before, do not listen to all of the tempting media stories about this stock or the others being at an all time low and about to take off.  Stick to what you know and do your homework before investing in anything new.
STAY DIVERSIFIED!  This lowers your risk because not all parts of the market move in the same direction at the same time.  Losses in one asset class might be balanced by gains in another.
KEEP A LONG TERM PERSPECTIVE!  It is important during these uncertain times to remember that even five years can make a huge difference.  As an individual, keep focused on your major goals and do not be derailed by the day to day performance of the market.  As an employer, be sensitive to the fact that we are all in the same boat and need education and reassurance during these uncertain times.  Look at your quarterly statements.  Stay on top of the major happenings in the financial and business worlds.  Always complete a thorough review of your investments – asset allocation, investment performance and progress toward your goals – at least once a year.
For the long term, it is safer to hang on for the roller coaster ride than to jump without a plan!