From a purely financial perspective, the novel coronavirus has been a double-edged sword. On one end, financial advisors have bemoaned that millennials and younger workers eschew stocks and participating in retirement funds for living in the moment. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic sent everyone working remotely. Suddenly, wannabe Gordon Gekkos were sprouting everywhere.
At least Americans across the demographic spectrum now understand how important retirement investing is, right? Well, not quite. Like it or not, it’s the flashy, headline-grabbing stocks that have enjoyed the most engagement. And this dynamic has sparked the “meme stock” phenomenon as traders on social media apparently coordinate to push up undervalued and typically out-of-favor equities.
However, as the red ink dries on some of these meme trades, the fundamental reality of retirement funds arises: slow and steady usually wins the race.
Of course, this aphorism implies that you’ve contributed consistently and frequently to your retirement funds portfolio since early in your career. If you have, some of the funds described below should steer you into the right direction so that by the time you’re ready to retire, you’ve got a healthy nest egg to work with.
Still, life doesn’t always occur on a perfectly linear trajectory. Many of you have already felt the sting of a disruptive event, such as an unexpected medical emergency. Sometimes the universe just kicks you in the butt and you’re forced to dust yourself off. Understanding that everyone’s situation is different, I’ve included several retirement funds from which to consider.
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (MUTF:VTTHX)
- Fidelity Freedom 2035 (MUTF:FFTHX)
- American Funds 2035 Target Date (MUTF:AAFTX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund (MUTF:VFORX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (MUTF:VFIFX)
- T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund (MUTF:PRNHX)
- “Defi” Platforms
Also, your eyes don’t deceive you: for my last idea about retirement investing, I included a discussion about blockchain-based platforms. With technology constantly accelerating, I would be remiss not to mention it as the blockchain could play a significant role in the years ahead. So, strap yourself in for possibly the most diverse discussion on retirement funds ever.
Retirement Funds: Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (VTTHX)
One of the best features of retirement funds is that it’s largely a hands-off process. And Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 Fund is one such retirement investing vehicle. Featuring a “target date” of 2035, Vanguard advises that the VTTHX is earmarked for those who are planning to retire between 2033 and 2037. If you’re an older Generation X member or a younger baby boomer, the VTTHX may be right for you.
What makes the Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 particularly attractive is its 0.14% acquired fund fees and expenses, otherwise known simply as the expense ratio. According to Vanguard’s website, the VTTHX features an expense ratio that is 70% lower than other retirement funds. Also, the minimum investment is $1,000, a reasonable entry point for most prospective acquirers.
However, do keep in mind that the VTTHX has a risk potential of four out of five. This means that it’s noticeably more aggressive than other retirement investing options.
Fidelity Freedom 2035 (FFTHX)
If you’re in your early 50s and you’re on plan to retiring in 2035, you’ve done well. According to a Forbes article, nine out of 10 Gen-Xers are falling short on their retirement investing goals. Here, the FFTHX fund is most appropriate for the 10-percenters who are on track for enjoying their golden years.
One of the catalysts driving the FFTHX relative to other retirement funds is its overall quality. Also, it’s important to note that while the majority of this fund is allocated toward domestic blue-chip equities (at 43.51%), a substantial allocation of the portfolio is dedicated toward international equities at nearly 38%.
In years past, this may have caused the FFTHX fund to underperform relative to the S&P 500 Index. However, moving forward, its international exposure could see this fund outperform as many developing markets feature far higher growth opportunities.
American Funds 2035 Target Date (AAFTX)
Again, if you’re a younger Gen-Xer and you’re seeking retirement at 2035, you’re ahead of the game in terms of your demographic category. However, if you want to achieve financial freedom on the backs of American establishments as opposed to foreign ones, the American Funds 2035 Target Date is possibly the right platform for you.
Featuring a nearly 51% weighting toward U.S. stocks and a 25.3% weighting toward foreign equities, the AAFTX puts the America in “America First.” Additionally, this is one of the more stock-heavy retirement funds, with a 76.2% allocation toward equities and 18% toward bonds, with the rest distributed in other financial vehicles.
Within the equity allocation, the majority holdings are directed toward the technology sector at almost 19%. Considering that it was technology that substantially mitigated the disruption from the novel coronavirus, the AAFTX is appropriate for astute, forward-thinking investors. Just note the expense ratio, which is on the higher end at 0.35%.
Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund (VFORX)
Traditionally, the retirement age has been held as 65 years. However, the harsh realities of the economy, particularly the expanding wealth gap, makes this target unrealistic for millions of Americans. So if you’re in your early 50s or are in your late 40s approaching this half-century milestone, you may want to consider the Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund.
Featuring a heavy mix toward equities (82% stocks, 17% bonds and 0.9% short-term reserves), this appeals to investors who still have many years to ride with their retirement funds. Therefore, if we do have a catastrophic loss on Wall Street this decade, you probably have at least a decade to recover. Frankly, buying shares of quality companies during a downturn is one of the best things you can do.
Additionally, the VFORX gives a little time cushion for younger Gen-Xers that need a bit more time to grow their wealth before comfortably entering retirement. Also, like the other Vanguard funds, the VFORX features a low expense ratio and a very reasonable minimum investment ($1,000).
Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (VFIFX)
I anticipate that the Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund is going to be one of the most critical retirement funds in recent memory. As the name implies, the VFIFX is aimed for those who are seeking to retire around the year 2050, or a range between 2048 and 2052. That of course fits right into the timeline for younger GenX-ers/older millennials who are approaching their 50s and may need extra time to bolster their savings.
Of course, this demographic is really where the paradigm shift in financial preparation started to take a turn – and not necessarily for the better. Forget all this talk about the novel coronavirus pandemic fueling Robinhood trading and the recent surge in short-squeeze extraction attempts. This is all newfound speculation based on a one-off event.
In reality, financial advisors for years warned during the pre-pandemic years that younger folks — as well as the youngish — need to get their act together. Instead, we saw some cultural transitions that occurred for people born in the late 1960s to early 1970s regarding rebellion against the corporate system.
Well, hopefully that’s out of the bloodstream because retirement is something to plan for when you hit your 50s if you haven’t done it already.
T. Rowe Price New Horizons (PRNHX)
When you’re younger, you have time on your side. This is huge for retirement investing strategies as you can minimize your risk and grow your wealth steadily through conservative financial vehicles. On the flipside, starting out late does not mean you’re out of the game. Indeed, the best lesson for life is to never give up.
That said, you’ve got to be realistic. If you’re in your 50s and haven’t allocated much into your retirement funds, you have little choice but to be aggressive. For those in this category, the T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund is one of your best options. Featuring a mix of small emerging growth firms, the PRNHX is poised to outperform the lumbering blue-chip stalwarts of Wall Street.
Of course, you must be aware that with investing in small firms, the upside is potentially much higher but so are the risks. You can understand the character of the PRNHX through its holdings, which has a majority exposure to information technology at 33.4%. Also, watch the higher expense ratio at 0.76%.
Although hardly what you would call an example among retirement funds, the world is changing dramatically as we speak. Thanks to connectivity platforms, the fintech industry has exploded in popularity and adoption, delivering access and convenience to a new generation of end-users. In that context, I think it’s naïve to assume that retirement investing won’t also face serious disruption.
Over the last few months, I’ve been exploring the idea of the blockchain ecosystem that extends beyond market speculation and payment processing. Out of this burgeoning field comes an innovation that could turn retirement funds upside down: decentralized finance or DeFi for short.
While early cryptocurrencies proved that they could offer a viable alternative to payment transactions, the underlying blockchain technology can expand much further by eliminating human intermediaries for various financial functions. A critical function, of course, is the ability to accrue passive income.
Admittedly, the idea sounds risky as heck. Essentially, you buy from an approved list of cryptocurrency tokens and earn interest off them from participating virtual currency platforms like Coinbase.
Why would you do this? The yield is incredible, with some platforms offering 4% to 6% yield for major crypto coins while the riskiest tokens facilitate a yield of 12% or more. For those who are truly behind in their retirement investing goals and need to take serious risks, the blockchain might be your ticket.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.