Jonah Engler explains a Target Date Fund and How to Choose it

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The 401(k) has been one of the most popularly chosen retirement investment funds for a long time. It offers future savings as well as tax benefits in the form of deferred taxes and tax-free gains. However, it has its own drawbacks, which include the limited choice of investment funds options and the choice of it being left on the client who lacks the expertise to select the right plan.

A target-date fund is a prospective alternative to create a portfolio professionally. As you get closer to your target date, your fund will automatically take up a conservative route by moving your investments from stocks towards bonds. Although different companies have different target-date funds, they are all diversified and rebalanced regularly. 

Why is a Target-Fund Considered a Safe Choice According to Jonah Engler?

A target-date fund is often considered a safe choice, as it allows you to be rid of worry once you’ve set it. But that doesn’t imply that these funds are problem-free. They provide diversity in investments, but they also need to be checked for expense ratios. 

Most people tend to avoid managing their own investments as it puts a greater responsibility on themselves, especially if they are not familiar with this field. Few 401(k) plans offer guidance and might even provide consultancy with a financial advisor, but most funds don’t provide this option. 

Some experts suggest that you shouldn’t choose a date close to your retirement time. Some even recommend selecting a time 10 to 15 years beyond your retirement date as life expectancy is increasing each year, and people are vulnerable to the risk of exhausting their retirement funds during their lives. 

Few 401(k) plans also offer asset allocation funds, which allocate investments in various assets. These funds are classified as aggressive, moderate, and conservative. Aggressive funds have more allocations to stocks, and the conservative funds are more inclined towards bonds. 

How to Pick a 401(k) Plan?

A 401(K) plan usually offers a selection from 10 to 12 investment funds, so how does one choose the right plan for themselves?

For most investors, limited choices are an advantage as it simplifies the process. However, experienced investors may find it quite restrictive, and choose to go with IRA as it offers unlimited selection. 

You should consider the following two factors when selecting a 401(k) plan:

  • Returns over a long term: The returns on your fund over the period of 5 to 10 years
  • Expense ratio: The total cost of holding the fund per year

Ideally, you should be looking for a plan that offers the best returns at a minimum cost. That might sometimes require compromising on performance in exchange for a lower cost. If you want to avoid that, then you can also opt for a higher fee that offers better returns over the long term.  

Final Words by Jonah Engler

Not everyone is well-versed in the domain of investing; therefore, it’s essential that you do your research thoroughly and understand the basic concepts of fund allocations before selecting a plan. Learning about your options will save you from higher-risk investments and will help you choose the right plan according to your needs.