MADISON (WKOW) -- Monday, The stock market had it's worst day since right after the September 11th attacks seven years ago.
The Dow Jones average fell 504 points, and the smaller markets also had substantial drops.
In this It's Your Money report, How the turmoil in the markets is effecting your investments.
The markets fell after news that two more major investment firms fell victim to the mortgage crisis.
Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch is being taken over by Bank of America. There's concern more lenders may fail, but President Bush says the economy can handle it.
So, as Americans watch and worry about their investments, their retirement accounts, their college funds, what should they do?
University of Wisconsin School of Business Professor Mark Ready says, as hard as it may be, hang in there.
"My feeling is now would be the wrong time to pull back," Ready says. "Often, drops are followed by higher opportunity. I would say, stay the course."
To help ease fears, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said that after the federal takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the rescue of Bear Stearns, there would be no more bailouts at the taxpayer's expense.
Paulson declared, "The American people can be very, very confident about their accounts in our banking system. As long as we work through it and lenders can lend money to those who need it, there shouldn't be that much direct effect on the economy."
Despite the encouraging words, Monday's stock market fall means about $700 billion evaporated from retirement plans, government pension funds and other investment portfolios.