What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us
Ask Money

Should I stick with mutual funds?

Chris Farrell Feb 20, 2009

Question: In 2006 I decided that I would move my (significant) individual mutual fund holdings to a managed account with my investment firm (a major mutual fund company). I did this because I have been busy in the military and have not had time to manage my mutuals and keep track of recent goings on. I am young, so they determined I should take risk. I agreed. Now that whole amount is down 35% from when I put it in. I am 38 years old. What should I do? Chris, Ft. Worth (deployed to Baghdad), TX

Answer: It hurts when our savings decline by that much. You do have a lot of company, however. And your portfolio is probably reasonably well diversified with a tilt toward equities (because of your age). The reason I say that is you would be down a lot more without some bonds holding down your paper losses. (Conservative bond mutual funds with a big dose of government securities did well last year.)

Normally, I am a skeptic about managed funds, but in your case it was a smart move considering all the demands on your time in the military. I would ask myself the same question everyone should address during this market meltdown. Is my portfolio too risky for me? Here’s a safe forecast: There will be other bear markets — probably several — during your lifetime. Are you okay with that? You’re still very young, and you have a long time for the money to compound. That argues for leaving it alone. But if you don’t like the losses, I would direct the managed account to create a more conservative portfolio over time. There’s no rush, but you’ll want to reduce your exposure to equities.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.