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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2006, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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401K question

So I signed up for a 401K plan with my company. I chose a mixture of conservative to aggressive stocks. I have been checking my losses/gains for the past few days and I am not feeling so good about it. My first contribution went in last pay period and the stocks I chose keep taking losses. The money I put in keeps decreasing. am I losing that money for good? I know the company is going to match what I am putting in but maybe there isn't going to be any left to match? Maybe I just dont' understand how this works but I feel a little worried right now.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2006, 07:46 PM
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Re: 401K question

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Originally Posted by manitu22
My first contribution went in last pay period and the stocks I chose keep taking losses. The money I put in keeps decreasing.
Like everything else in this economy - it has high points and low points. Last pay period? That can't be much more than two weeks ago. My folks have kept stock for 30 years.

Stocks are just another form of savings, just a little more risky than a savings account. You still wouldn't judge the money you made after two weeks. Give it time to settle down.

Look at those stocks over a period of time too.

All stocks rise and fall based on many different factors..... watch and see.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2006, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. It makes sense. I just don't make much money and to see it just disappear like that scared me.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2006, 07:54 AM
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A 401k is considered a long term investment and you will drive yourself nuts if you look at it too often.
Look at how individual funds did over the past year, then make your choices and stick with them. Check in twice a quarter or so to see what's up with a funds performance, but other than that quit thinking about it too much.
Many, many of us lost 401k funds over the past couple of years- the market waxes and wanes big time. Average your profits/losses over a period of years, not weeks.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2006, 11:54 AM
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It's called compounding interest, you buy it today for $1, and over time it's value goes up to $10.

Now, when you buy at a regular pay period, you want them to be as cheap as possible, buy low, sell high.

You obviously can't time the buying in a 401k, but you can shift it around a little, --though when the market goes up, you want to be along for the ride. I don't shift.

When you retire, your average cost will be cheaper then what you sell them for, if the market plays out historically, and if not, my Dad say's there won't be anything left to do with your money anyhow.

Just get enough to be sure to get all companies matching funds, that's the first part of getting a return. I wouldn't go over that limit, if you want to save more take it and go invest in something else.

I got 27 years before I can retire so, because my time horizon could ride out the lows in the market, I go for the higher risk funds too. When I'm 50 or so then I'll think about being a little conservative.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2006, 12:13 PM
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First off, a 401K is the "account/plan" not an "investment" in and of itself. Within that account, there may be stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, CDs, etc. You usually have a choice as to what investment(s) you want in your 401K. but all of them don't offer all of those choices and there may be limits as to what you can invest in or choose. Your employer may choose to contribute dollars or their company stock as they match your contributions.

I'm guessing you're a young person so investing thru a 401K is a great thing to do with "time on your side". Put in as much as you can and keep telling yourself it's a long term investment........not a month to month investment.

I've been a broker since 1983 and went thru the collapse of the market in 1987. My clients were devastated but I cautioned them to hold on and wait it out. Look at this chart to see what that big of a drop looks like. What's also notable is where the Dow was then: in the 2.000 point range. Where is it now? At almost 11,000 points. Think about it .









Just some returns over the years


NOTE: I'm not recommending those funds. I just posted that so you could look at 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. of investing performance in general and how dramatically returns can change................over time.

NOTE: YES, you can lose money in any investment but some times you lose money........................by NOT investing.

Dan
post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2006, 07:46 PM
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I have a 403B at work, similar to your 401K. I've been at it for 7 yrs now and have a sizable chunk of money now saved up-granted, I CAN'T touch it for many many years!
It's something that will build overtime. The only time I pay attention to it is when I get my quarterly statements. I have had a few quarters where I have lost money. But I have yet to have a year where I haven't come out ahead.
It's supposed to be long term. Also, remember the greatest chance for gain is also the greatest risk for loss. In the first 7 years I had 100% going to our most risky option. Just this last year I diversified a bit and put some into real estate also.

Jennifer

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2006, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
had a few quarters where I have lost money
These are the good quaters, if your still buying into the fund, your average cost per unit is lowered.
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