Yesterday, USA Today published a piece describing how you should invest in a bad economy. Though the market is in shambles, the authors write, it’s no time to panic:

Enough. The stock market — and your savings — have gone down steadily, day after day, for more than a year. You’ve lost thousands this month alone. It’s time to do something. But…what? Should you shift more money into stocks? Put it all into a savings account? Pay off your mortgage? Hop a freight and become a hobo?

The authors talked to top financial advisers from around the nation. Here’s a summary of the experts’ advice. (For details, please read the entire article.)

  • If you’re in your 20s, take comfort in the fact that time is on your side. You probably haven’t lost much, and you have decades to make up the difference. Now’s a good time to focus on paying off your high-interest debt.
  • If you’re in your 30s, prioritize retirement savings. “Don’t let fear squander your opportunity,” says one expert. Protect yourself from unemployment by maintaining an adequate emergency fund. Be cautious about moving money out of the stock market, but be open to diversifying with new contributions.
  • If you’re in your 40s, prioritize saving “even if it means cutting back on spending.” Don’t abandon the stock market. One financial planner tells USA Today that “nervous investors who stash all their savings in certificates of deposit and money market funds ‘are committing financial suicide’.” Still, stay diversified, and don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • If you’re in your 50s, don’t do anything rash. Keep your investments balanced. Continue to save. In fact, the article suggests that you should look for “any way you have to boost your savings, no matter how small.”
  • If you’re 60 or older, your position is tougher. You don’t have as much time to recover from the market downturn, but you’re not without options. Put off Social Security as long as possible. (This is a strategy advocated by Scott Burns when I interviewed him last summer.) Take a part-time job. Adjust your expectations.

It seems to me that the advice to every age group (except the last one) is essentially the same: Don’t panic. Diversify. Cut spending. Boost savings. Or, in other words, do the things that we’ve been talking about here at Get Rich Slowly for the past 2-1/2 years!

In a related note, Daniel Gross writes in the latest issue of Newsweek, “Don’t get depressed — it’s not 1929!” Also see this past post at GRS: Why it pays to ignore financial news.

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