Best Target Date Retirement Funds

Best Target Date Retirement Funds – Choosing between target date funds and index funds is a very common dilemma for long-term retirement investors.

➥Target date funds are incredibly diversified investment products that aim to grow assets over a period of time. These low-cost funds are actively managed and restructured to offset risk as the target retirement date approaches using a “squeeze” approach.

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

Because index funds do not have a “target” date, holdings in these funds do not adjust to the investor’s risk tolerance, which often declines with age.

Best Mutual Funds In December 2022

For long-term, retirement-oriented investors, target date funds seem to be a good investment strategy. Why? Mutual funds simplify the process of saving for retirement. Instead of choosing between dozens of stock and bond funds, target date funds require you to have just one position! There are many assets and types of securities within this one position.

While no one knows what the future holds, this article focuses on comparing the past performance of target-date funds to index funds, specifically index funds that track the S&P 500 benchmark.

A target-date fund – also known as an age-based or life-cycle fund – is a mixed-allocation fund that aims to increase assets over a specified time period for a target date.

But how do you know how much of your retirement and savings should be in stocks versus fixed income (bonds) at different stages of your life? What about the large-cap ratio? And what about the money markets?

Vanguard Reclaims Top Target Date Fund Manager Spot It Lost In 2020

Targeted means have been developed for us to perform this work. These funds are rebalanced as they approach the target date and vary according to the investor’s risk appetite, which declines with age.

Before the target date fund, determining asset allocation was guesswork if the investor did not have a financial advisor. And there’s really no real answer – just a lot of gray.

To learn more about different asset allocation strategies, see our article “What’s the Best Bond Stock for Your Age?”

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

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Target Date 2020 Funds Did Well In 2020. Here’s Why.

In 1994, Barclays partnered with Wells Fargo to create a fund that “insured” investors at a future date, usually their retirement date.

As a result, the first targeted pension fund was created. Since then, the following companies have offered target date funds:

As reported by CNBC in 2022, the most popular provider of these mutual funds is Vanguard. This article focuses entirely on Vanguard funds, but all target date funds in the above families have similar asset allocation strategies.

Since this article compares target date funds to index funds, let’s explore the world of index funds before we continue.

Target Date Retirement Funds Work Up To A Point. When To Reconsider

Index funds can be mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs). Index funds seek to track the returns of a market index.

So, index funds track market indices. What type of market are they targeting? Myriad. Let’s take a look at a few that are currently popular:

To invest in these indices, investors can buy mutual funds or ETFs. ETFs are becoming increasingly popular investment instruments due to their low fees and high liquidity.

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

This article will focus primarily on S&P 500 index funds, specifically those offered by Vanguard. Vanguard S&P 500: Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares Mutual Fund (VFIAX) and Vanguard’s Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) have two primary products that provide access at low prices.

Expense Ratios Drop For All Vanguard Target Retirement Funds

ETFs (like VOO) are exchange traded, meaning you can buy and sell them during market hours. Mutual funds (like VFIAX) can only be traded once a day and you never know what price you will get when you place a buy or sell order in a mutual fund.

For these reasons, this article uses VOO as a benchmark when comparing the performance of target date funds. VOO is the highest rated S&P 500 tracker with 5 stars on Morningstar.

Target date funds have many similarities to index funds. After all, mutual funds are made up of index funds! In theory, you should be able to independently represent any target date fund with index funds.

This is a good strategy for investors with higher and lower risk appetites than the benchmark target date fund. For investors who prefer less risk, several bond funds as well as money market funds can be used in tandem with a target date fund. For riskier investors, stock index funds can be used to complement target date funds.

How To Achieve Optimal Asset Allocation

All investors have different appetites for risk. Investing is not just a job. So why are target date funds so popular? Because they are simple and cheap!

Investing can be an expensive business. Fund payouts may predict the future success or failure of the fund.

Fund issuers must employ teams of fund managers and price stabilizers to ensure that these funds actually track the underlying index.

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

Management fees for Vanguard’s index funds and Vanguard’s target date funds are very low. However, target date funds have slightly higher fees.

Target Date Radar

All Vanguard funds consist of four main index funds. Let’s look at the fees of these four funds individually and then look at the expense ratios of the various target funds.

The funds listed above make up the majority of Vanguard’s target funds. So what are the actual fees charged by mutual funds? Let’s see!

Given the relatively high fees for Vanguard’s International Stock and International Bond funds, the expense ratios for the target date funds should be what they are.

Therefore, we can conclude that investing only in Vanguard’s S&P 500 ETF is cheaper than investing in target date funds.

Seven Reasons To Put 100% Of Your Portfolio In A Target Date Index Fund

ETFs and mutual funds that track the S&P 500 index provide exposure to the 500 largest companies listed on US exchanges. All of these companies fall under the “large cap” umbrella.

We are taught from a young age that diversification is the best way to invest. This includes investing in bonds and stocks. But we do not live in the age of our parents and grandparents.

Interest rates are rising in 2022, but many financial experts believe that rates will never rise to the heights of previous decades.

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

In fact, interest rates have been falling continuously since the Black Death in the 14th century! Many asset managers believe low interest rates are here to stay.

Personal Finance: Target Date Retirement Funds’ Fatal Flaw

So why is it important to us? Target date funds are very difficult. Bonds tend to be less attractive than stocks in a low interest rate environment.

A relatively poor 15% return on your portfolio over several decades can be a drag on your retirement plans.

Plus, bonds have taken quite a beating this year. Shares of Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index Fund ETF ( BND ) are down 4% in the first four months of 2022. Very volatile for a historically “safe” asset class!

It’s important to note that while bonds have really underperformed, bonds can still provide investors with an excellent source of income after retirement.

Keeping Your Eyes On Your Target Date Fund

Over the past 11 years, the S&P 500 (represented by the VOO in gold) has returned 314%. During the same period, international stocks returned 22.68% (represented by Vanguard’s Total International Stock ETF (VXUS)).

Does this mean international stocks are poised for a comeback? Could be. But for the past 11 years, international stocks have barely kept up with inflation. To me, this is a red flag coming.

Now that we understand the different types of assets and securities that target date funds cover, let’s compare them to S&P 500 index funds.

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

All Vanguard target funds have this monster inside. Here we see how the S&P 500 index matches up with the funds.

Don’t Believe What You Read About Target Date Funds

In addition to covering all stocks in the S&P 500, VSMPX includes small-, mid-, and large-cap growth and value stocks.

Since this fund’s target date is only 8 years away, VTHRX (2030 target date) is very conservative with 35% of its holdings in bonds.

As you can see, the S&P 500 has significantly outperformed Vanguard’s 2030 Retirement Fund over the past 10 years.

Of course, this is to be expected considering that the planned retirement date of the investor is only in 8 years. As target pension funds approach the target date, the funds become increasingly conservative and (in higher markets) generally underperform the S&P 500.

Target Date Funds

As you can see, the Vanguard 2040 fund is a bit more conservative than the 2030 fund, with about 20% of its assets invested in bonds.

In addition, this fund has 32% of international capital compared to 26% of international capital in the 2030s.

So how has this somewhat aggressive fund fared against the S&P 500 (as represented by Vanguard’s VOO S&P 500 ETF) over the past decade?

Best Target Date Retirement Funds

Because this fund has slightly larger capital, it has slightly outperformed Pension Fund 2030 over the past ten years. However, the fund still underperforms the S&P 500.

Are Target Date Funds Your Best Bet For Retirement Planning?

To warn! Most financial experts agree that target-date funds are a great way for market-savvy investors to save for retirement. The do-it-yourself approach can be expensive if not done with diligence and financial means.

The next fund on our list is Vanguard’s Target Pension 2050 Fund (VFIFX). Let’s see what it is

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