The stock market just tanked. Here's what to do with your 401(k)

There’s one market correlation you can count on: When the markets plummet, calls to 401(k) plan providers go up.

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re also reaching for the phone — or just looking for reassurance that your nest egg will still be OK.

Monday’s eye-popping market drop is no exception. Trade war fears sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by more than 700 points by midday. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each entered their sixth consecutive day of losses.

Despite the scary headlines, financial advisors have one message for you: Don’t panic.

“Most people should do what’s good for them, agnostic of what the market is doing,” said Aaron Pottichen, senior vice president at Alliant Retirement Consulting in Austin, Texas.

“No one can time if the market is going to go up or down,” he added. “But we do have control over what our plan is.”

If your investments match your goals, then there is no need to make a change, Pottichen said.

But if you don’t know whether that’s the case, now is a good time to reach out to your 401(k) provider and have them help you. Most plans have tools to help you track whether your portfolio mix matches the time horizon for what you want to accomplish, Pottichen said.

While most investors may view a big market drop as negative, Pottichen said investors should welcome the chance to buy lower-priced stocks.

“You’re not losing an opportunity,” Pottichen said. “You’re gaining an opportunity to buy something less expensive.”

One key thing to consider as you’re evaluating your 401(k) and other investments in turbulent times is how soon you will need the money.

“Stock ownership should always be for a long-term hold: five plus years,” said financial advisor Scott Hanson, co-founder of

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