4 Popular Target Date Fund Choices

Target date funds do the investing for you.

Target date funds do the work of investing for you by creating an age-appropriate asset allocation and ongoing management for a low fee. If you have a 401(k) plan, within your plan you may see target date funds offered by the companies below. All are solid choices you can feel confident with.

If you are choosing your own target date fund, visit the websites below and compare fees, the ease with which you can find information on their websites, and call their customer service line to see if you feel they provide a level of responsiveness that you will be happy with.

1
T. Rowe Price

Targets for an age-appropriate asset allocation.
Target date funds provide you with a simple investment solution. Michael Betts

T. Rowe Price has a fun interactive online tool that helps you find the right target date fund for you, ranging from a target retirement date of 2005 to 2060. Their "Retirement 2025" fund has annual expense of .69% (just under 1%).

T. Rowe Price says, "Whether you're investing for retirement or living in retirement, it's important to maintain an age-appropriate asset allocation of stocks and bonds." I couldn't agree more.

2
Vanguard

Target date funds on a spreadsheet.
Target date funds are managed for you for a small fee. IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd.

You can search through Vanguard's Target Date funds by age or by years to retirement. For example, for those currently age 59-63 (as of 2016) they recommend their 2020 fund, which has annual expenses of .14%. Vanguard is known to have some of the lowest fees in the industry; the annual expenses on their funds are approximately one-fourth the industry average.

Even better, in their case low fees does not mean low quality. Here's what they say about their target date funds:

  • Sophisticated retirement saving made simple.
  • Broadly diversified. Underlying funds invest in 6,000-plus U.S. stocks and bonds and 2,000-plus international stocks to help spread out risk.
  • Managed for you. Gradually become more conservative as your year of retirement approaches—reducing risk automatically.

3
Fidelity Freedom

Drawing of a diversified mix of mutual funds.
Target date funds become more conservative as your retirement date approaches. Westend61

Fidelity Freedom Target Funds have target dates ranging from 2015 to 2055. They describe their 2025 fund as appropriate for someone planning to retire within a few years of 2025. It has an expense ratio of .23% (less than 1%).

Fidelity says, "Fidelity Freedom Funds, also called target date funds, are single-fund investment strategies that can help take the guesswork out of building and maintaining an age-based retirement portfolio."

4
Schwab

Graph of target date fund performance.
The target date is the year you plan on retiring and beginning withdrawals. David Sucsy

Schwab Target Funds have target dates ranging from 2010 to 2055. They describe their 2025 fund as appropriate for someone planning to retire between 2023 and 2027. It has an expense ratio of .65% (less than 1%).

Schwab says, "Funds are professionally managed according to your approximate target date for retirement. Each target fund has its own investment objective and automatically adjusts its asset allocation to meet your changing financial needs over time. The Funds are built with the expectation that you will start gradual withdrawals of fund assets on the target date, to begin covering expenses in retirement."