Fear and loathing of lost wages and dramatically depressed stock prices have young investors losing sight of their retirement goals.

Building a nest egg is not something most 25-year-olds are giving much thought to these days when faced with evaluating their personal finances. Typically, they tend to focus on making sure the rent and student loan bills have been paid on time and how much will be left to cover their weekend tab at the local saloon. And with a three-year bear market for stocks already in the books, many of them are wondering if it is safe to put a portion of their paycheck into a defined contribution plan such as their company's 401(k).

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