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On Thu, 24 Sep 1998 wrote:

If - and only if - the funds used within your 401k are the same as ML offers the public will it be possible for you to track that fund's performance on a daily basis.

That's what I thought. I was looking for the tickers so I could track

o Fidelity Advisors High Yield Fund Class A
o Templeton Foreign Fund
o Merrill Lynch Global Holdings Fund
o Merrill Lynch Pacific (!) Fund
o Merrill Lynch Equity Index Trust (S&P 500)
o Merrill Lynch Capital Fund Class A
o Merrill Lynch Basic Value Fund Class A

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

You indicate the one you're interested in is a proprietary fund, or one not open to the general public. Generally, unless the fund manager chooses to publish such information you won't be able to track the performance of this kind of fund until you receive your 401k statements.

That's the only way I've found so far, and that's what a customer service rep told me, too. Just seems weird.

That receipt may be quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Few 401k plans issue monthly statements.

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

OTOH, if you use funds that are sold to the public, then you can use any portfolio tracker to check on them daily simply by entering their ticker symbol.

I guess I just haven't FOUND the tickers yet. I must not know the right places to look. I was getting into stocks, so I dumped all my mutual fund bookmarks. Can you help me out with where to look?

Be aware that when trying to track your 401k performance you will only be able to approximate that return within any given year for a number of reasons....

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.

For these reasons, IMHO the best way to measure 401k performance for your particular account is once each year as of the date of a statement you receive. You know what the beginning balance was, you can account for the timing of deposits, and you know what the ending balance is. With that date you can compute an accurate return for you personally. Other calculations based on approximations are just guesses...

Thanks for this sound view of things, Pixy. Any additional comments you have regarding my above questions are welcomed. I love the Fool -- it's great! I feel like at this young age, I can start to take charge.
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