Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina watched as the Dow Jones industrial average took a nose-dive Monday, but perhaps the 634-point plunge was especially palpable for Triangle resident Denny Mercer. Trouble on Wall Street cost him more than $130,000 last week alone.
Mercer retired in 2000; he and his wife are living off their retirement savings, which are tied up in the stock market.
"I'm not missing any meals at this point, but I can't take $100,000 a week," Mercer said. "That's a whole lot more than I ever earned."
He said he worries most about the longevity of his money and whether it will last long enough to provide for his family after he's gone.
"I'm not worried about this week, this month or this year, but my wife is 17 years younger and I have an obligation to leave something for her to live on," Mercer said.
Mercer said things have gotten worse in recent years, but he hopes it's just standard market fluctuation.
So does Raleigh attorney Rick Lovett, who hopes to retire someday and keeps a close eye on his investments.
"I think everybody is concerned to a certain extent because, anytime you think the bottom is falling out, everybody says, 'What can I do differently?' or 'Did I do anything right in the first place?'" Lovett said.
Lovett said he's conservative with trading and believes that time will turn things around on Wall Street, hopefully before he's nearer to retirement age.
"I think things come and go. There are cycles, and I believe it will come back," he said. "I'm not one of those doomsday guys that's going to stock up a bunch of food in Utah or something."
For younger generations, planning for retirement early helps to assuage financial fears about the future.
Alex Barbour, a 2011 college graduate from Raleigh, has already opened a retirement account.
"I set one up because I wanted to be prepared for whatever came next," she said. "I didn't really know what was ahead and I wanted to start saving now, so that the future might be a little easier."