mac5155 wrote:So just a general question. I put 3% into my 401k every pay. is that money certain? or could I lose it since I believe it is invested in stocks through Vanguard.
Your 401k can lose value. Things are depressing right now, but just dont worry about it for a while and the market will come back. Every time you put your 3% in (and subsequently any company match) - you are buying shares of something. You may want to look to know exactly what you are buying (vanguard offers many different options). Chances are, the value has gone down, but your pay check will keep going in and you can consider the new money as buying at a discount of sorts. You will get more shares for your money and when the market returns to posting positive numbers, you will make more in the long run.
Besides, if you have a company match, it is still very much worth it to keep investing. You can still "lose" a lot of money and you can consider that the company match money and you still have all the money from your paycheck
A couple things you SHOULD know about your investing:
1. Where is it allocated? You can probably find this online or your quarterly statement.
2. Does the company match? What is the match? Make sure you take advantage of that... for example, if they match 100% up to 5% and you are only doing 3%, it's a no brainer to add the extra 2% b/c you are automatically doubling your money.
3. You are putting your money into investments, so they will increase and decrease in value (in theory, you could lose it all or turn it into $100 million). Invest in a strategy that matches your retirement outlook. For example, at age 25, you invest differently than age 40. And at 40 you invest differently than age 55.