Retirement

How a Target-Date Fund Works

A “target-date” fund is a mutual fund consisting of typical assets such as stocks, bonds, cash or cash equivalents. The percentage mix of assets is reshuffled automatically by the fund to meet the objective of the investor by a certain future date, such as retirement.

The main advantages to a target-date fund are: low minimum investment which provides for greater diversification of outside investments, the fund is managed by a professional fund manager, and there is low investor maintenance or monitoring once the initial investment has been made.

As the preselected date approaches, a target-date fund will shift assets towards more conservative investments to avoid or attempt to mitigate any downturns in the economy. This re-allocation is done with no direction or input of the investor but by the mechanics of the fund itself.

When selecting a target-date fund, it is important to examine the initial composition of the fund assets. All funds typically have different percentage allocations based in equities or stocks, bonds, and cash. The difference between the funds rests in the make up of the allocations. One fund may be made up strictly of domestic equities and treasury bonds, while another fund may have a portion of the equities and bonds based internationally. There can be other differences among funds, such as what type of equities are in the asset mix, whether they are large, small or mid-cap stocks, or if the equities are from emerging markets, or the type of bonds and cash equivalents that make up a portion of the fund.

A disadvantage of a target-date fund is that they are not independent. The target-date fund is usually a compilation fund made from the offering company’s other funds. This compilation of other funds can lead to higher expense fees depending upon how a fund company computes their charges, the fee for managing the target-date fund may include all or part of the fees charged for the component funds. Hence the investor in the target-date fund is paying a fee for the cost of managing the component fund as well as the target-date fund.

Whether an investor should or should not invest in target-date funds depends upon how much the investor wants to be actively involved in the management of his or her retirement fund. If the investor wants to be an active participant continuously until retirement, then a target-date fund is not the best investment choice. Conversely, if an investor does not want to be involved in the direction or management then a target-date fund offers that convenience, however, the more passive investor will need to investigate, compare, and analyze the target-date fund before committing to invest in the fund in order to assure that the retirement goals will be met.

An investor must perform due diligence with any fund. With a target-date fund the diligence and investigation must be in depth and up front. With a more traditional self-directed fund the investor must continually monitor during the entire investment in the fund.

Starting a Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is a tax- deductible fund that was introduced by Senator William Roth of Delaware in 1997, as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act. Putting one’s money into a fund of this type can be a very profitable way of investing for retirement. Absolutely anything can be invested in such a retirement fund, and all of the money so invested may be withdrawn at any time free of tax. Opening a Roth IRA is likewise a very simple and easy process: The customer simply goes to the bank and ask for the forms he or she needs to fill out. Having done so, he then returns the forms to the bank and deposits money into the newly- opened Roth IRA account, by one of three ways: a check, cash, or a transfer from one’s savings account.

Constant fund monitoring is crucial. It is also possible to open a Roth IRA with an online brokerage. Fidelity Investments is an example of such a company. Registering for an account in this way is even simpler, requiring the customer to give some personal information. Once the applicant has given this information, he can deposit money into his new account. The funds in the account can then be invested in almost anything, including mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.

Tax refund money should be invested in one’s Roth IRA. There is a limit on the amount that can be invested in the account each year, depending on one’s age (those over 50 can pay an additional “catch up” contribution). This maximum changes each year, and so it is important to check this upon starting the account. How much one can invest also depends on one’s tax- filing status, that is, whether the holder is (1) single; (2) married, filing separately; or (3) married, filing jointly. Contributions can never be made with investments; they can only be made with cold, hard cash. And over the age of 70 1/2, there is no minimum to how much can be deposited in the account.

For anyone far- sighted enough to think about planning for the future, opening and investing in a Roth IRA can be a secure, intelligent path to take.

What is a 401k?

What is a 401k

By – Richard Adams
A 401K is a savings plans that is offered to employees by employers as a means of encouraging investing for the future and retirement. They differ from an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) in that they are only offered through the workplace and both the employer and the employee can make contributions toward them. A 401K is a great investment opportunity, especially for people who are starting young and may have several hundred thousand dollars available to them when they retire. If you are at least 21 years old and are employed by a company that offers a 401K, you would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity.

Employer Matches

Most employers offer an even greater incentive for employees to save by providing matching funds up to a certain percentage of the employee’s contribution. For example, if you have five percent of your paycheck withheld every two weeks for your 401K, your employer may choose to donate half that amount, or 2.5 percent, into your account. In order to be eligible to keep the employer contributions, you usually need to stay with them for a set amount of time to be vested. Your vesting increases by the number of years you have worked for your employer, and after a set number of years, you are fully vested and are able to keep all money that your employer contributed to your 401K.

Tax Benefits

The amount of money you contribute to your 401K is done on a pre-tax basis, meaning you pay no tax on it until you make a withdrawal at retirement. Your 401K contribution for the year will show on your annual W2 statement, but you are not required to report it to the IRS.

Early Withdrawal Penalties

If your company allows you to borrow against your 401K before retirement, the amount you borrow will be subject to both a penalty and taxation.

Read more at:
Smartmoney 401(k) Center – 401(k) information center with various articles and tips and advice.
NPR : True Value: The Young Worker and a 401(k) – A talk about the value of 401(k) retirement savings accounts for young workers and retirees.

What is a Target Date Fund?

There are a ton of investment vehicles on the market, most mutual fund companies now offer what is called a “Target Dated Fund”. Investors looking for a fund where they can invest for retirement and don’t have to worry about asset allocation will find target dated funds a perfect fit.
Target Date Funds
Target dated funds are mutual funds that are actively managed with a long term goal in mind. For example: The investor has a retirement date in mind, lets say 20 years from now. All they have to do is find a mutual fund with a target date that fits their criteria, make the investment into the fund and that’s it.

When Should You Use These Types Of Funds?

Investing in these types of mutual funds are for people who want to invest and forget. Lets use the example above: An investor has a retirement date which is 20 years from now. The risk profile for a person this far from retirement is still in the high risk category. This means the mutual fund manger will allocate the assets of this fund in investments that focus on higher capital returns, not capital preservation.

So, the fund will be invested more in stocks and less in bonds. The goal, since there is a long time frame for the investment, is to be aggressive, accumulate more capital. Then, as the fund matures the fund manager will make shifts in the asset allocation moving toward a more conservative mix of stocks and bonds.

Ultimately, as the fund closes in on the target date the asset allocation will be mostly in investments focused on capital preservation. So, for the investor who has a long term time frame for retirement and wants a passive investment, this can be the perfect investment vehicle.

Pros

Mutual funds are always diversified, this investment is no different. Target dated funds are generally comprised of a mixture of other funds. So, this means you have diversification within diversification, this lowers the investors downside risk.

The other advantage, which was already touched on, is an investment where the investor is pretty much hands off. The mutual fund manager is navigating the asset allocation in these funds. The investor is only choosing the target date, that’s all.

Cons

The downside of these target dated funds are fees. Since these funds are actively managed the fees can be much higher compared to other mutual funds. The other term that designates fees in a mutual fund is call “expense ratio”.

The last thing that can be a negative factor with these types of funds is the investments themselves. As mentioned, the fund manger chooses the blend of investments in the fund. Some target dated funds only invest within their own fund family. For example: A fidelity targeted fund will only invest in other fidelity mutual funds (this is only an example, fidelity may not do this,) in this case the investor can lose some of the safety factors that come with diversifying among a variety of mutual fund companies.

Overall, target dated funds can be the perfect investment vehicle for someone with a long term investment timeline who doesn’t want to worry about market fluctuations.