Mellody Hobson Answers Your Money Questions

You sent them in and now "Good Morning America" financial contributor Mellody Hobson has answers to your money questions.

Find out what she has to say below and click here to send in your questions to Mellody.

Question:

I am 53, single, with a good job. I have (had) approximately $120,000 in my 401(k). I do not want to touch the money in my 401(k) in any way; however, should I keep investing the max $20,000 per year? I am tempted to stop my contributions for six months and put the money in my money market account. I'd rather pay taxes on my money than throw it away.

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From: Victoria Wilson, Texas

Mellody's Advice:

No, keep at it! You still have a number of years before retirement, so you have time to ride out this recent market volatility. When the market is down, one of my favorite market factors comes into play -- that of dollar cost averaging.

The dollar cost averaging is the approach to investing a set dollar amount over a specific period of time, which allows you to buy more stock when prices are low and less when prices are high. At the end of the day, the price balances out and you are able to take advantage of both the upside and downside of the market. Also, it is impossible to time the market, so you do not want to risk being on the sidelines when the market rebounds.

Question:

I am very, very concerned about my kids' college fund. With the market being so bad, I am losing money in the 529 plan. Can anything be done to protect my money? My oldest son is graduating from high school next year, and I am concerned about whether I will have any money left. I am already switching from a university for the first two years to a junior college to save some money, and my second son is going to college two years later. What can I do? Please help me.
From: Lisa Farrell, Smyrna, Ga.

Mellody's Advice:

Unfortunately, with such a short time horizon, there is not much you are going to be able to do to recoup the losses in your son's 529 plan. Most 529 plans offer very conservative options, so you may want to consider rebalancing and moving some of the money to protect what you have saved. The good news is there are billions of dollars in college scholarships for your sons to consider -- even if they are already enrolled in college. One of the best places to search for scholarships is Finaid.org, which has a free search engine with more than 1.5 million scholarships and $3.4 billion.

Answers to Your Financial Questions

Question:

We have a 5 percent ARM which becomes variable in February 2010. Our plan was to sell our house before then. Our girls are in college now, and it is time to downsize. It is on the market, which, as you know, is not doing well. When would you advise that we look into refinancing? Or, should we just stay the course and wait for the house to sell? I hate the idea of paying closing costs to refinance and then pay them again if the house sells. We have excellent credit and very low debt, so we are not concerned about getting approved for a new loan. Please advise. Thank you, Lisa.
From: Lisa Rose, Winona, Minn.

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