Ways to Protect Yourself in Shaky Economy

"You are watching your 401(k) plan go down, and you think, 'Oh my God,'" Orman says. "But what you should be thinking is, 'I am 20, I am 30, I am 40 years of age. Oh my God, I don't need this money for another 20 or 30 or 40 years.' How fabulous.

"Because the truth of the matter is, if you are investing in either a good company stock with a small portion of your money — or good mutual funds that are in your 401(k) — you want these markets to go down. You want these markets to stay down here for a long period of time."

Orman explains, "The more money you put in, the more shares you buy. The more shares you have — 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now — you are going to have a fortune in this when everything returns."

If you are looking for a college loan ...

"The truth of the matter is, student loans have dried up in some places," Orman says. "When money dries up, and the bank still has the money to lend, they are gonna be very particular who they lend it to — if in fact they lend at all."

Hobson agrees, but adds that the government has stepped in to put some "significant" programs in place. "That, at least, from where we were, is a huge improvement," she says.

If you are worried about retirement ...

"Be prepared to probably work longer," Orman says. "I know that sounds very harsh, but it may be true." Hobson agrees and adds that you may have to add a couple of years to your retirement plan.

Orman adds this personal rule of thumb for those right around the corner from retirement: "Unless you do not need this money for at least 10 years or longer," she says, "that is not money that belongs in the stock market."

After all, you never know what's going to happen to the economy. Instead keep that money in more liquid form, such as in CDs, money market accounts or indivudual bonds.

"You want to always be in a position that no matter what happens, you know what you have and nothing can happen to it. And that then allows you to retire and you feel better," Orman says.

If you're living off your credit card ...

It's simple. Stop doing it. "When you are using your credit card and you are buying things, these things are going to become more and more expensive," Orman says. "The more expensive they become, the more your credit card debt increases."

Orman has a suggestion about the best way to magically give yourself a guaranteed return on your dollar. "Where should you put your money? Do you want me to guarantee you an 18 percent return on your money? I'll tell you how to get it," Orman says. "Pay down your credit card debt."

Both Hobson and Orman said we should not panic over the Wall Street rollercoaster, adding that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae hold or back more than half of the mortgages in this country, so the government would not let them go under. Hobson says, "When you count the mortgages they hold, the securities they back — they are too big to fail."

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