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AliFool, in a follow-on post, says:

I'm guessing that the ML ones are NOT trackable. And yes, most of the money is in the S&P fund. : )


I get all those lovely quarterly ML brochures. I've got stacks. Are they worth keeping at all? That info is always available, right?

DownwardSpiral gave you an excellent response on where and how to search for info on your 401k funds. Those quarterly brochures may contain data on the expense differences between what you see on the public funds versus what looks like the same fund in the 401k. Beyond that, as long as they don't contain data on your contributions you can chuck those brochures with confidence that nothing of significant importance will be lost.

Yow! I knew it was hard to track, but not this hard. How about this: I assume that since ML is a fee-based, full-serivce broker, there is a 4% or 5% load on these funds. How do I know how much of my money is actually going towards this crap? I.e., I could just put in the bare minimum to get max company match, and then take the rest of the money and park it in Vanguard's S&P 500 Index (which I already have -- in a Roth IRA). On the other hand, this is PRE-tax money... so maybe it would be worth it, rather than have it come out after taxes. Do 401K plans eat up our contributions with loads and fees, etc.? How can I tell? I don't want to be ignorant on this.

Assume nothing, get the info from your plan administrator to know for sure. You may have loads (i.e., commissions) to pay in the funds purchased and the administrative charges imposed by the fund itself. Additionally, you may have an administration charge imposed by the plan for records keeping, etc. You must examine both the fund prospectus and the plan documents to see what charges you will absorb. Your plan administrator/benefits administrator will have that info.

Yes, it's certainly Foolish to contribute at least enough to receive all the Free Money your employer will provide through a company match. Beyond that, you must compare the after-tax returns in the 401k to that of any other alternative you may wish to consider. Additionally, you must maintain the same discipline in the alternative as you do in the 401k (i.e., automatic contributions that increase as your pay does). See Step 4 of my 13 Steps to Foolish Retirement Planning available at: .

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