Target-date funds are supposed to help prevent a stock market plunge from ruining your retirement. But if that market meltdown comes in the years right around the start of your retirement, many of these funds could fail to provide that safety. That’s because when the typical target-date fund hits its target date—the date that investors plan to start their retirement—the fund still holds substantially more than 50% of its assets in stocks. It’s only in the following years that it shifts much more heavily to bonds.
What to do: Choose a target-date fund that gets very conservative in the years approaching your planned retirement date. Of course, you have to weigh whether the added safety is worth sacrificing stronger returns that more aggressive funds might provide.
Here are three examples of “safer” target-date funds (all of these fund companies offer similar funds with target dates further out)…
db X-trackers 2020 Target Date ETF (TDH) is an exchange-traded fund that holds 52% stocks and 48% bonds. By the time it reaches its target date of 2020, that allocation will have shifted to 10% stocks and 90% short-term bonds and cash. DBxus.com
Wells Fargo Advantage Dow Jones Target Fund 2015 (WFQEX) has 26% in stocks…64% in bonds… 4% in cash…and 6% in other assets, similar to what it will have at its target date. WellsFargoAdvantageFunds.com
T. Rowe Price Target Retirement 2015 (TRRTX) is one of a new series of target-date funds specifically for conservative investors. The fund has 46% of assets in stocks (dropping to 42.5% by the target date)…50% in bonds…and 4% in cash. TRowePrice.com