Until three years ago, 31-year-old Manhattan attorney Heather E. Barr had no interest in the stock market or planning for retirement. She finally signed up for one of three Salomon Smith Barney Inc. funds offered by her company's 401(k) plan at the urging of a co-worker. It also happened to be at the peak of the market. For a while, the account did fairly well, but by last year, she had lost a third of her money. The last time she looked, the account was worth less than $2,000. She has since stopped opening her statements. While she still puts an automatic $50 a month into the plan, she's not holding out hope for a rebound: "I don't have faith in the stock market," she says. "Everyone says you have to ride it out and be in for the long haul. Maybe that's true, but putting money in a shoe box would have landed me more."
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