What can I do if my retirement account is decreasing instead of increasing?
UPDATED: January 28, 2011
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If your retirement account is decreasing instead of increasing, you need to consider what you have invested your cash in and whether the money is in stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other types of assets. The stock market fluctuates on a fairly constant basis, so if your retirement account is decreasing and you own either individual stocks or stock-based assets, it's not necessarily a cause for alarm. The decrease you're seeing could very well be in reaction to a downward fluctuation in the market, and may very well be followed by an increase. This is the nature of investing.
While a decrease in your retirement account is not necessarily cause for alarm, you should be more concerned if your retirement account is decreasing very rapidly or decreasing at a rate not in tune with the market (e.g. - during a time when the market is largely increasing). If the decrease is not in tune with the market, it could be a sign that there is another issue that needs to be identified. You may want to consider speaking with a stock broker and/or a financial advisor or attorney. Depending on the circumstances of the decrease, there may be some type of issue with your investment. That issue could be nearly anything – and while it is not necessarily a sign that there is cause for alarm since it could be circumstantial and something that will only be temporary, there are many possibilities for the decrease, from broker fraud to poor investment strategy. It could also mean that you simply misunderstood the investment you made.
Whatever the situation may be, figuring it out and regaining control of your money is essential, so get in touch with a financial professional as soon as possible to help you to better understand the reason for the decline. Even if the situation doesn't end up requiring action, the broker and/or lawyer can help you gain a better understanding of your investment. This will come in handy in the future as you continue to monitor your account balance.