Dear Liz: Is there a reason not to panic? I see my investments tumbling and I am already very conservative. I don’t want to put it all under the mattress, but what else can a person do to hang on to what I have saved? I am fast approaching retirement age.
Answer: If you’re prone to panic, you should turn off the television pundits who like to scare people, which seems to be most of them.
What you need are perspective and balance. If you’re within 10 years of retirement, you should invest in a session with a fee-only financial planner to make sure your portfolio is appropriately diversified. Taking too little risk can be as dangerous as taking too much when you have a 20-year (or longer) retirement horizon.
Over time, the stock market does march upward, although it’s never a smooth path.