How do I choose the best 401(k) investment options for my risk tolerance and financial goals?
3 min read
First, you must understand what a 401(k) is and how it works.
A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan your employer offers as part of your benefits package. You can contribute a portion of your pre-tax income to your 401(k) account up to a certain yearly limit. Your employer may also match some or all of your contributions, like getting free retirement money.
Your 401(k) account is invested in various funds selected by your employer and the financial institution they work with. These funds may include company stocks, individual stocks, bonds, securities, variable annuities, etc. Each fund has a different risk and returns potential level, depending on how it is diversified and managed.
The key to choosing the best 401(k) investment options for your risk tolerance and financial goals is to balance your portfolio between growth and stability.
Growth funds are more volatile and risky, but they offer higher returns over the long term.
Debt funds are more conservative and safe but offer lower returns over the long term.
Generally, the younger you are, the more you can invest in growth funds because you have more time to recover from market fluctuations and benefit from compounding. The older you are, the more you should invest in debt funds because you want to preserve your capital and avoid losing money when you are close to retirement.
Of course, this is not a one-size-fits-all rule. You also need to consider your personal risk tolerance, which is how comfortable you are with taking risks and facing losses. Some people are more aggressive and willing to take more risks for higher rewards, while others are more conservative and prefer to take less risk for lower rewards. Some people are somewhere in between.
For example, if you are very aggressive, you should invest 80% of your portfolio in growth funds and 20% in debt funds. If you are very conservative, you may want to invest 20% in growth and 80% in debt funds. If you are moderate, you should invest 50% in growth and 50% in debt funds.
You can check out our proprietary tool, Money Score, which discovers your financial situation, risk appetite, and more, which can become a basis for how your asset allocation should look.
You should review your portfolio periodically and adjust it accordingly. Suppose your risk tolerance changes over time or your financial goals change due to marriage, divorce, children, etc.. You can rebalance your portfolio yearly to maintain your desired mix of funds.
You should not switch funds based on their past returns or predictions of future returns, which can lead to buying high and selling low. Instead, stick to your long-term plan and invest consistently and diversely.
If all of this sounds too complicated or overwhelming for you, don't worry. There is an easier way to choose the best 401(k) investment options for your risk tolerance and financial goals. Using Xillion's 401(k) Optimizer, you find the best funds and tell you the best practices to maximize your retirement savings.
The tool analyzes your current 401(k) plan. It compares it with thousands of other plans to give you personalized recommendations on improving your portfolio based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.