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Most of the 65+ Say They Can Withstand a Market Plunge

But fewer than half have a plan for dealing with a major downturn in stocks

Graph dropping market crash Alexander Hamilton

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Despite the uncertainties around the stock market, 62.2 percent of older folks said they expect to be in about the same shape financially in 2018 as they were last year.

Wall Street’s roller coaster ride undoubtedly has a lot of Americans feeling anxious about their wealth. But a new poll finds that 7 of 10 Americans 65 and older think they’re at least somewhat prepared if stocks should take a major plunge, though fewer than half have a contingency plan in place.

The survey of 1,006 U.S. adults was released by COUNTRY Financial, a retirement planning and financial services company. Some 19.1 percent of the older Americans polled said they were completely prepared for a potential downturn, 21.4 percent said they were mostly prepared, and 29.3 percent said they were somewhat prepared. Only 7.4 percent said they weren’t ready to cope with a downturn, and 22.9 percent said they weren’t sure.

A downturn in this case was defined as a 6,000-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which would wipe out all of the market’s gains since November 2016.

Older Americans were somewhat optimistic about the course of the stock market. According to the COUNTRY Financial Security Index, 31.6 percent expect the market to gain value, 22.6 percent think it will lose value, and 19.3 percent expect it to stay the same. The remaining 26.5 percent didn’t feel confident in making a prediction.

Fewer than half of older Americans (44.1 percent) said they have a plan in place if the markets suffer a major downturn.

Despite the uncertainties about stocks, 62.2 percent of older folks said they expect to be in about the same shape financially in 2018 as they were last year. Some 23.8 percent expect to be better off, but 11.2 percent foresee being worse off. The other 2.9 percent were unsure.

Market volatility is no reason to panic, Doyle Williams, an executive vice president at COUNTRY Financial, said in a media release. “Americans can take some simple steps to better manage their savings, including diversifying their assets and developing longer-term strategies that don't change with every market fluctuation,” Williams said.