Pragmatic Capitalism

Capital for Living a More Practical Life

Advice for a newbie with a 401k

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Hi Cullen,

I am a newbie and ashamed to admit it. After a number of years, my employer finally started offering matching, so I figured, that’s free money, time to take advantage. Now, admittedly, I started this later than I should’ve, regardless of the heretofore lack of matching… but I’m also still 30 years from retirement so I think I’m making the right choice to start taking this seriously.

Anyhow, at this stage, I feel inundated with jargon on the Principal website (this is who our employer does their program with). Really, I’m just kind of looking for a down-to-earth primer on how I can comfortably navigate this crud, make some sense of it, and figure out how to allocate in a way that minimizes fees and simplifies things.

To that end, I’ve heard from numerous people that Vanguard funds are excellent for fairness in fees and simplicity, but I’m so green here that I don’t even know if I can do that with a Principal account.

I’ve been a long time reader on your macroeconomic stuff and how you really cut to the core of looking at the operational realities of the system. I feel a bit foolish that while I understand many of those concepts, that personal investing feels crazily daunting and hard to navigate.


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Posted by jayedcoins
Posted on 03/16/2017 5:00 PM
Private answer

This is a very personal question. Your allocation will depend entirely on your personal needs.

But if you’re a young guy with 30 years to wait I’d venture to guess that you couldn’t go wrong with a very simple allocation like a target date fund or some other simple Vanguard Lifestrategy fund. Just keep your fees super low (use Vanguard funds where you can) and go with an allocation that will keep you comfortable all along so you just stick with the plan. Simpler is usually better. Then forget your password and don’t request it for a few decades. ?

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Cullen Roche Posted by Cullen Roche
Answered on 03/19/2017 1:39 AM
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