First, the reality: There are no magic bullets that can restore your retirement account to where it was before the current economic crisis.
"What it's worth now is what it's worth," says Harold Evensky, a certified financial planner and president of Evensky & Katz, a financial advisory firm in Coral Gables, Fla. "There's no guarantee you're going to bounce back."
Evensky recommends investors start by revisiting and perhaps adjusting their retirement goals. "Maybe you don't need to bounce back. Perhaps you just need to invest more intelligently and diversify," he says.
In addition, Evensky suggests that investors proceed cautiously in the current economic environment. "If anyone is discovering the holy grail now, be suspicious. Be careful of some of the new things coming out. Try not to chase the next great thing."
That said, there are some actions investors can take to maximize their retirement accounts, including the following.
1. Manage expenses: Many individuals or couples, especially those who work for different companies or have changed jobs over the past few years, have multiple retirement accounts, and are paying fees on each of those accounts. Now is the time to consolidate your retirement savings into just one or two accounts to reduce fees and costs. Be sure to compare the costs of your current plans and any new ones you may be considering, and keep an eye out for hard-to-spot administrative fees that can siphon off funds from your account. Also, having fewer accounts can also make them easier to manage when it's time to start making withdrawals.