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Market Volatility and Helpful Resources You Can Use

These days it's easy to feel uneasy about the stock market's volatility on news such as the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or stalled trade talks.

Ideally, investors would ignore the headlines and one-day changes and focus on long-term goals instead. But that's easier said than done. Here are ways to tune out day-to-day distractions and focus on the long term:

  1. Stick to a plan. It sounds simple, but if you've decided how much you need to regularly save to reach your goal, say, retirement in 30 or even 15 years, you're less likely to make sudden changes based on short-term events.
  2. Set an asset allocation. The optimal mix of stocks, bonds, and cash in your portfolio is largely based on your risk tolerance and investing time frame. Young investors, who typically won't need the money for decades, may be able to invest heavily in stocks that have greater risk, but also greater growth potential. Retirees should generally have less exposure to stocks, but still enough to keep up with inflation.

    Unsure of the right asset allocation for you? Target-date funds,* if offered through your plan, may be an option. Target-date funds can help with making sure your asset allocation matches your time frame when saving for retirement. Basically, you choose a fund with a target year closest to the time you plan on beginning withdrawals, and investment experts who run the fund will gradually shift the target date fund from mostly equity exposure in longer dated funds to mostly fixed income exposure in shorter dated funds. For example, you could invest in a 2030 fund if you plan to begin withdrawals 10 years from now or a 2040 fund if you plan to begin withdrawals another 20 years from now.

    You may log in to your account to view the funds available to you.
  3. Keep a cash cushion for retirees. The average bear market — a decline of 20% or more — since World War II, lasted 14 months and can be devastating to new retirees forced to sell investments to pay expenses or just raise cash. By keeping two years' worth of living expenses in cash, money market fund, or a stable value fund, retirees will know their expenses are covered and can avoid being influenced by short-term market downturns.
  4. Focus on what you can control. Staying the course may produce greater returns in the long run. Try focusing on what is within your control, such as your end goal, ways to save more, and how to reduce expenses. Check out several of the resources ICMA-RC makes available to help you learn more about navigating market volatility at And while investing for your future goals is important, you or others in your family may be faced with the challenges employment transitions may bring. For helpful resources, please see our Employment Transition Resources.

* The Fund is not a complete solution for all of your retirement savings needs. An investment in the Fund includes the risk of loss, including near, at, or after the target date of the Fund. There also is no guarantee that the Fund will provide adequate income at and through an investor's retirement.

Please note: The contents of this publication provided by MissionSquare Retirement is general information regarding your retirement benefits. It is not intended to provide you with or substitute for specific legal, tax, or investment advice. You may want to consult with your legal, tax, or investment advisor to review your own personal situation. Some of the products, services, or funds detailed in this publication may not be available in your plan. This document may contain information obtained from outside sources and it may reference external websites. While we believe this information to be reliable, we cannot guarantee its complete accuracy. In addition, rules and laws can change frequently.

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