Wall Street trading generic shot

SHREVEPORT, La. -- The stock market crash of 2020 has taken a toll on retirement and 401(k) accounts across the country. Many people lost close to 30 percent of the value in those accounts in mid-March.

So what's next?

"Initially, I thought about moving some of it out, like maybe half and try to catch the bottom and then decided against that," said Deron Wendt, a Bossier City resident.

Like many, Wendt was trying to figure out what to do with his retirement investments, including a 401(k), in mid-March when the market took an historic dive.

"The way it dropped there, that had to give everybody a little bit of pause, but I didn't want to panic," said Wendt.

That's a perfect reaction, according to financial advisors.

There are a lot of things people can do with their 401(k), such as not panic, said Tommy Williams of Williams Financial Advisors.

Hopefully, the panic stage is over as financial experts look to the future.

"I think we're likely to see some volatility to the downside over the near term. But by the end of the year, hopefully, things should look pretty good," said Williams.

In fact, he's hearing positive things from some of his clients.

"I'm looking for a few good deals out there," said Wendt.

The decision how to handle retirement and investment money now could determine a person spends his or her twilight years enjoying a beautiful day in the park or spending some of those years in a cubicle.

"I really believe we're going to come back from this," said Wendt.

"When we get past this thing, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the economy and 401(k) accounts," said Williams.

Williams also offered an important tip for anyone who's not too optimistic now because of lost income and in need of quick money. 

"Most 401(k)'s have a loan feature, and I think it makes a lot more sense to borrow some money from yourself and be paying back yourself than to cash in and pay taxes and penalties," said Williams.

Williams says not all 401(k)'s have those features, but many do and investors just aren't aware of the possibilities when times get tough. He says check with the human resources department or the plan administrator to find out what's available with an individualized plan.

He also says now is the right time to rebalance a 401(k) account with the help of a professional. And for those who have cash on hand and want to buy, experts suggest doing a little bit at a time for a long period of time. That's something called auto-cost averaging.

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