401k Performance in a stock market dow crashHow much has YOUR 401k plan lost this year?

During a recent conversation, I was shocked to find that so many people were so far down in their 401k year-to-date totals. Having withdrawn funds and searched for a better way to invest a couple years ago, I’ve been somewhat sheltered from the hammer that’s smashed a lot of dreams for those either facing retirement, or hoping to in the near or near-distant future.

CDs and ING Direct “Orange” savings accounts have returned reliable returns for me, even if they paled in comparison to the people earning 10-15% or more on their 401k plans. Reading up on insurance investing (via “EIUL” plans or Equity Indexed Universal Life) and trying to decide whether a non-matching 401k would be best or something less conventional would be better, I’ve had my money in limbo so to speak.

It seems that the time I spent losing out on thousands in the market, has come to pay itself back in gold after the adjustments hits, the Dow crashed, and the bailouts started picking up steam.

But just like those who were shocked that a house could… LOSE value… I was no different when it came to 401k performance. I would have figured the smart guys in the expensive chairs had some backup plans to mitigate heavy losses, but it seems that my confidence was misplaced. My 3% interest on my savings account started looking very good compared to some of our below commenters.

So have you lost? Have you gained? How is the market treating your 401k, and will it affect retirement in your immediate future?

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Comment by Chau
2008-10-06 13:26:34

Personal Rate of Return from 01/01/2008 to 10/03/2008 is -33.9%

Comment by Maxist
2008-10-06 13:28:29

You win, mines only down 12.6%

Comment by TPayne
2008-10-06 13:29:42

I’m sure I’d win..

Personal Rate of Return from 01/01/2008 to 10/03/2008 is -97.3%

Who needs freakin retirement anyways, I’m going to work until I die at this rate.

Comment by MG
2008-10-06 13:40:42

Ouch! What the heck did you invest in?

Comment by John
2008-10-06 13:30:43

Let’s just put it this way.. I lost more money than i put in this year.

Comment by Staffur
2008-10-06 13:31:07

Mine is probably down 15-25% now.

Oh well, hopefully it fixes itself before I want to retire.

Comment by Mike Roch
2008-10-06 13:31:51

Don’t sweat not having a matched 401k…

That free 3% company match ain’t helping me at all these days…

Comment by SUVRacer
2008-10-06 13:37:17

Yeah it just slows the loss….

Comment by Eric Bridges
2008-10-06 13:38:05

It will come back up. You will probably only lose money if you start trying to take it out now.

Comment by Las Vegas Realtor Dan
2008-10-06 13:38:36

Down 30%, hope it goes down to -50% for a solid 5-6 months so I can get all types of extra shares with my $$.

Comment by NoEncore
2008-10-06 13:51:16

That’s why you stick it in a CD. They are about 3% right now..

Comment by Snark
2008-10-06 13:51:55

You should talk to CHUCK!

Comment by Shadow
2008-10-06 13:54:10

Chuck is the dude giving me .15% return…

Comment by MikeRatt
2008-10-06 13:57:51

What kind of money are we talking?

Right now I would go with FDIC or SIPC insured products. also it depends on your age. Can you recover the losses? You should review your investments at least once a year.

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Comment by Finsker Fan
2008-10-06 13:55:00

You should look at the long term. I think most of this crap in the market right now will pass.

If you can afford it, buy stocks or mutual funds while they’re cheap so you can profit in the future.

Comment by MikeRatt
2008-10-06 13:55:41

Remember, an IRA isn’t one type of investment. You can have cash, gold, stocks, bonds, whatever in your IRA. Stocks are sucking shit right now but do best over the long haul.

If you can’t afford to lose any principle in the short term, you want your money in FDIC insured CD’s or cash. You won’t earn much (not even enough to keep up with inflation in this market) but its pretty safe.

Comment by Dustin Christopher
2008-10-06 13:58:56

My bank has a 58 month CD, 5k, at 5% APY right now

Reg. rates are about 3.85 on 10k for 24 months.

Food for thought for those fearing the short term…

Comment by Ben Fer
2008-10-06 13:59:44

I’m afraid to look again…

My 401k was down 16% last time I looked and then Wachovia went belly up

Comment by Ben Fer
2008-10-06 14:01:06

For the guy with the IRA..

Absolutely, you should keep contributing to your IRA. You should make sure to get a ROTH IRA….the ROTH IRA, you put in dollars that are pre-tax and then they tax it when you withdraw it.

With a ROTH, you put in dollars that already have been taxed and they do not pull it out when you withdraw it (at 59.5 years or for your first house and a couple other stipulations).

Comment by Ben Fer
2008-10-06 14:05:04

Depends on the company. I started one with Vanguard for $1000. Check out index funds. They mirror the makeup up a major index like the S&P500. Their expenses are very low (so more money makes it to you) because they’re not constantly researching and trading trying to beat the market.

Something like 80% of actively traded mutual funds actually do WORSE than index funds that are on auto-pilot.

Comment by Andrew Renew
2009-07-29 09:30:39

Last year, before Sept/Oct I was around 40-50% positive rate of return, then after the huge drop, i finished the year around 25%
Now this year, from 1/1/09 to 7/29/09 im sitting at +69.6% rate of return as of today. I do work my 401k weekly(if not daily) and pay attention to it most than others. I am also very aggressive and move funds around alot. According to 401k calculators on the net, if i can hold 70% a year, ill have 20mil by the time im 40 years old(only 26 now)…Granted it can be higher if i make more than 70% a year. My goal is to achieve 100% positve rate of return by the end of the year to see if I can do it.

Alot of people handle there 401k different I do. If I can focus on my 401k and retire 20 years ahead of schedule, even after being taxed the hell and back, i plan on doing it and living much happier when im 40ish than I am now. With my last 2 year rate of returns, ive been told by co-workers i should change professions. Working for Best Buy in the Geek Squad field is at least paying the bills now.


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