Families cope with delayed retirement and fallen home values

NATIONAL - When Ralph Aguayo and his wife Leah opened their retirement savings statement last fall, they couldn't believe their eyes.

"When I saw that statement in October, I was shocked, absolutely shocked, because I felt it was hard earned money. It was money that we had sacrificed," says Ralph.

Their accounts took a serious financial hit, a loss of $50,000.

"We came to a period where we had to make a decision to continue to invest in mutual funds or pull some out and put it into the money market to slow the bleeding.  That's what I chose to do," says Aguayo.

And the value of their Ben Lomond home has taken a dive.

Ralph says, "This was appraised at one time $750 to $800 thousand, and now no way.  It's plummeted, plummeted."

The Aguayos were hoping to retire from their ceramics teaching jobs in the next three to five years, but now they say they'll be raising their retirement glass in ten.

"I got mixed feelings about it. It's not like we don't like our jobs, first of all, but then there's the excitement about something new on the horizon and wanting to start that before you get too old, before you can't do other things," says Ralph.

Financial advisors like James Glass say for people who are close to retirement, you may have to work a little bit longer and be patient with your investments and your 401K savings.

"At age 55, I take you from a moderate portfolio to a moderately conservative portfolio, cause I don't know when the market is going to correct, but I want the contributions that you are putting in, I want to sustain those.  I want that value to remain," says Glass.

And for those under 40, start saving and be balanced.

"Put money into balanced investments.  You can afford to be aggressive because you have a lot of time on your side.  You have 30-35 years because you're 30 before you retire at age 60 or 65, you can afford to be aggressive," says Glass.

The Aguayos were hoping to retire and expand their salsa business, but that has also been put on hold as they re-evaluate their future.

Ralph says, "We've got to hold on right now, some pretty big accounts, but we just can't afford or we're all a little scared to put that money out to go for that dream."

Financial planners say the average 401K participant saves between 9 and 10 percent of their income.

But they say that number should be closer to 20 percent of your gross income, that way over time you will have a significant amount of money that you can use for your retirement.