Financial Pros Answer Your Top Questions

As the Senate prepares to vote on the massive Wall Street rescue or bailout plan, depending on your perspective, we decided to ask some experts how you can best navigate this skittish economy.

Simply put: Americans are facing plenty of uncertainty about their own finances. -- with the help of the Garrett Planning Network, the Financial Planning Association and several financial planning and advice companies -- reached out to experts across the country to get answers to some of the most pressing personal finance questions posed and inspired by our readers. Below, a sampling of the experts' responses.

Q: I am in my 50s, and I'm seeing huge losses in my 401(k) and other retirement plans. I'm worried it might all disappear and I'll have nothing to live on once I retire. What should I do?

A picture of Andrew Ross Sorkin, Mellody Hobson and Dave Ramsey.

Deborah Winterhalter, president, the Grace Financial Planning Company, Warrenville, Ill.: "If you are more than five years from retirement, keep contributing to your employer's retirement plan. Maximize your contribution if you are able or contribute at least enough to get any employer matching contribution. You are buying today's shares 'on sale.' This might be a good time to look at what percentage of your 401(k) plan is invested in stocks and what percentage is in bonds to see if an adjustment should be made. The percentage you are investing in stocks may be higher than what you are comfortable with."

Susie Johnston, certified financial planner, Cherry Hills Investment Advisors, LLC, Greenwood Hills, Colo.: "My recommendation is to review your investments within your 401(k) to make sure they are diversified. You should have investments in all areas of the market, including international mutual funds. You should probably have 60 percent to 70 percent in stocks and 30 percent to 40 percent in bonds and cash positions. Continue periodic investing (dollar-cost averaging) into your 401(k) as this market corrects and remember that this will end -- it might not be soon, but it will."

Jay Hutchins, president, Comprehensive Planning Associates Inc., Lebanon, N.H.: "You are experiencing a normal emotion under today's market conditions: fear. Just as it is imprudent to shift all your money into stocks when they are going up (that is the greed emotion), it is equally imprudent to shift all of your money out of investments when they are going down."

Q: I have some time until my retirement, and I'm sick about worrying about the stock market. Can I just put my money in savings accounts and CDs for now and then just jump back into the market when stocks start recovering?

Jake Engle, certified financial planner, Wealth Planning & Management LLC, Seattle: "Who anointed you as smarter than Warren Buffet? If Warren doesn't get out of the market and market time ('wait to jump back in'), neither can you. Every unbiased academic study has shown that you can't market time. Don't try. Keep buying stock mutual funds in your 401(k) and with all your savings. Stocks are 'on sale' right now. Treat it as a blessing, and grab some."

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