The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a survey last month of over 1,600 baby boomers (defined to be those age 45 and older) and found that 34 percent of the participants are considering a delay in their retirement age and a full 20 percent have stopped contributing to their 401(k) plans over the past year.
That's unfortunate because with the market hitting new lows on what seems to be an everyday basis, now is very definitely the time to keep buying and, if at all possible, increase your contributions. I know that that is easy to say but sometimes hard to do as it does take some faith and a belief in the capital markets.
It also requires some confidence in your personal financial situation. The AARP study further revealed that 27 percent of those surveyed were having difficulty making their rent or mortgage payments and that 13 percent had taken a premature withdrawal from their IRA or 401(k). If your situation is that dire, it probably does make sense to turn off the 401(k) contributions for a while to get yourself back on more solid financial footing. The taxes and penalties associated with a premature withdrawal make it a last ditch option. However, if you are simply worried about the market because it keeps dropping and you have an adequate emergency fund and a well diversified portfolio, the thing to do is keep contributing. Two or three years from now, you will look back on all this market turmoil and wish you had bought more.
For more information about the AARP study, check out this article in the Wall Street Journal.
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