Investments are going through a rough patch. Maybe your employer's even stopped providing a matching contribution to your 401(k).

Investments are going through a rough patch. Maybe your employer's even stopped providing a matching contribution to your 401(k).

But Stephen Dobrow, president of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, said this is actually the best time in recent history to put money into the market - especially if you're young.

Even if your 401(k) has taken a hit, Dobrow suggests you still put as much of your paycheck as possible into your company-sponsored, tax-exempt retirement account.

"If [young workers] can give up the cost of a Starbucks latte every week, they're going to end up a lot better in retirement," said Dobrow, who's been in the retirement field since 1976. "They're going to get those lattes back, with interest."

He offered his thoughts on some common 401(k) questions.

What should you do if your employer stops or lowers their contributions?

Dobrow said the smartest thing to do is maintain your own contribution to the 401(k). Consider any matching contributions icing on the cake, he said. And tell your employer you appreciate it.

"If I had one word, it would be 'vocal,'" he said. "My generation, we took this stuff for granted, we never said thank you."

How much should you worry about where your 401(k) savings are invested?

Unless you're able to devote a significant amount of time to it, not much.

Many companies offer a risk quiz to help investors determine tolerance for risky investments, matching each with a different predetermined portfolio of stocks and mutual funds that it manages over time.

"You wouldn't think about doing your own dental work, would you?" Dobrow said. "That's why you shouldn't do your own investments."

Should you tap into your 401(k) before you retire?

Exhaust every possible option before going this route, Dobrow said. Not only are you digging into the money you'll need when you retire, but the government's fines and fees for taking money out before you turn 59-and-a-half are like a giant tax that will leave you with only a portion of the amount you withdraw.

Might the vehicle for retirement savings plans change anytime soon?

While he admits there are problems with 401(k)s, Dobrow still backs the retirement plans. His pension professionals society is advocating an overhaul of the 401(k) system to get rid of secrecy and fees, and the group has bipartisan support, he said.

"I think 401(k) plans are just going to get better and better with time," Dobrow said.

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