A study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute indicated that adults who hung onto their 401(k) s fared much better than those co-workers that abandoned them following the financial crisis of 2008. The study indicated that those workers that maintained their asset allocation and continued to contribute to their accounts had a 67% higher average account balance at the end of 2012 than those that quit contributing.
The study also found that older 401(k) participants shied away from equities more than younger workers did. The share of 50- and 60-year olds with more than 80% of their 401(k)s in equities declined from 32.6% in 2007 to 23.5% in 2012, while the number of younger stock lovers dropped much less, only from 60.2% to 57.8%.
What this study tells us is that sticking to a good asset allocation plan and continuing to dollar cost average into your portfolio really works. It also tells us that making emotional decisions regarding your investing habits (and attempting to time the markets) doesn't.