Retirement accounts suffer amid Wall Street woes

Posted September 17, 2008 6:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2008 6:44 p.m. EDT

— Investment advisers said Wednesday that people shouldn't panic over the ongoing instability in the stock market, especially people close to retirement who have seen part of their nest egg disappear.

Stuart Clark said he's concerned about his retirement savings and has started cutting back at home to save more in an effort to offset his losses. As he watched the stock market fall in recent days, he said he wasn't sure what to do.

"I thought, well, what could I do? Cash in some stocks?" Clark said.

Financial advisers urged people not to cash out now and to continue contributing to 401(k) accounts and IRAs with a diversified portfolio until the market bounces back.

"(That's the) same thing they said a few years ago – stick it out, it's going to get better – but I'm 60 now," Clark said. "The older you get, the more you worry. If I was 62 or 65, I'd really be concerned."

Clark said he really doesn't have the time to wait around for the rebound, but he hopes things will improve after the presidential election.

"I've watched, in my 30 years of working, at least three recessions," he said. "It always takes a year or two, but it always bounces back and it happened every time we had an election."

Still, he said he and his wife might have to start drawing down on their savings to pay the bills. They've already canceled a planned vacation to save money.

"We were lucky we had planned ahead, but you can plan ahead all you want (and) when the stock market falls, you lose money. You really do," he said.