Please forward this error screen to 69. We asked Christine Benz, director of personal finance for Morningstar, a respected provider of independent investment research. Of course, your actual return average return on investment 401k on the plan you have, the fees you pay and the long-term performance of the stock and bond markets.

It’s easy to get dazzled by the good years and think you should be doing better. But that gain came after a steep decline tied to the financial crisis of 2007-2009 and, even as stocks recovered, included several headline-grabbing drops along the way. That’s why it’s costly to panic and sell when markets fall. You’ll just lock in your losses.

You want to avoid getting too caught up in the short term and think about what you’re trying to achieve,” Benz says. Think of it as a multiyear process and not a short-term endeavor. First, it allows you to make pretax contributions to a savings plan and grow your money. Second, if your employer offers matching contributions, that’s free money to add to the pot.

What you don’t want to do is not contribute or let money sit in a savings account earning nothing,” Benz says. That’s especially true in this period of rock-bottom rates for certificates of deposits, money market and savings accounts. Brightscope, a financial information company that provides analytics on investments and retirement plans, provided a list of mutual funds, and Morningstar provided the performance data as of Sept. Foreign large-cap blend fund with stocks in European and Pacific Rim companies. Mari Adam, president of Adam Financial Associates in Boca Raton, Florida, says what you can expect to earn is also highly dependent on how you invest.

Ideally, you’ll want a mix of stocks and bonds in your plan. 30s, then move more into bonds as you get closer to retirement. You can get a good asset allocation through a balanced fund or target-date fund. Thinking about bonds While stocks have the potential for rapid gains when the market is going strong, bonds are also essential to provide some stability when stocks are down.