Whether you're an older worker with seemingly few options to recoup significant investment losses, or a younger worker with minimal or no investment savings at all, don't let a difficult financial climate scare you into not taking any action at all.
Take stock of your situation and formulate a plan by starting with the basics:
Pay down debt. Reduce the chokehold that credit cards have on your budget. Pay off the highest interest-rate card first, and then apply that payment to the next-highest interest-rate card. Stop charging.
Spend less. Identify needs vs. wants, and then set priorities. Many so-called needs actually are wants in disguise.
Rebalance your stock portfolio. Do your investment choices reflect your risk tolerance and investment strategy?
Keep some liquidity. Consider stashing some cash—perhaps three to six months' of living expenses—in a money market account at Coosa Valley Credit Union, which is insured to at least $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration.
Increase your contributions. Many stock prices are at low. If possible, bump up your contribution.
Diversify. Spread your wealth among a variety of investments: domestic, international, financial services, technology, health care, and so on.
Use dollar-cost averaging. By having just $50 each paycheck automatically directed to a mutual fund, your contributions will purchase more shares when the price is low, and fewer shares when the price is high.
Work longer. If you're close to retirement, consider hanging on to your current job longer than planned, if you can. Or, secure part-time work after retirement. This reduces the number of years you'll dip into your investments and helps build additional savings.