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Subject:  Re: Should I 401k? Date:  1/16/2001  7:24 AM
Author:  TMFPixy Number:  27226 of 105357

Greetings, Son Of The Bear, and welcome. You wrote:

My company is offering now for the first time an enrollment in a 401k plan. It is with Guardian Life Insurance. I am not sure wether to invest in their plan or not. My company is not offering "free money" at this time. I have been reading a lot of material on about 401k and Roth investing. It seems to be the Fools' opinion to invest in 401k if you can. But it also says the best way to do it is to pick a passively managed equity index fund. There is not such a fund on Guardian's Plan. The closest I can find to the Foolish ideal is the Dreyfus S&P 500 Fund (NYSE:PEOPX). Well, I've been researching that fund, and it seems to consistently underperform the market. On top of that, they don't invest a 100% in stocks. Some part is invested in cash equivalents, which undoubtedly goes to pay the fund manager's fee of .50% per year. That seems high for an index fund, since there are funds out there (just not on my plan) that offer as low as .02% yearly fees. Plus, Guardian uses Morningstar as their rating service and MorningStar describes the PEOPX fund as "a fund to avoid". I guess my question is if there is a better way to invest my money. For instance, in a no-fee Roth IRA account. I am 22 years old and I intend to retire in 40 years.

Despite the tax advantage, a 401k plan may NOT be the best approach in the absence of an employer matching contribution. If you show the same dedication in an after-tax investment that you would in a payroll deduction plan like a 401k (i.e., automatic savings each payday that increases at the same time and at the same rate as your pay), then it's quite possible to slaughter the return you would get in the plan. But you need to evaluate your options. For some tips on how to do so, see my article "When NOT to Use Your 401(k) Plan" at


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