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opticalc 05-05-2008 11:44 AM

hello from GA: questions about juggling 401k funds
Hello everyone, I just found this place so I could ask my question:

I'm just turned 34 and only have $78K in my 401K. I've recently started contributing the max of $15500/year and my employer puts in about $4000/year. 401kCompany/CharlesSchwab is the company that handles my account.

Over the past few years I've taken some BIG hits due to who knows what... Basically I have zero growth in my 401k other than my contribution and my employers.

I have the option to use a money market fund, and to transfer to/from my regular funds into/out of the money market fund as I see fit. This money market fund basically never gains nor does it lose.

My question is how do we go about juggling between funds and when the crap hits the fan? I'm more than willing to look every day at things and move between funds on my 401k, but I dont know the signs to look for.

Im just not content to have Schwab pick a target model on me based on age, and ride the ups and downs. If its possible to look at things every day and move back/forth between funds I'd like to know how to do it.

IS this the kind of thing a financian advisor/planner can help with? For some reason I think FA's only just help you get set up with IRAs, kids college funds, etc.

Here are my investment choices:

MCM Stable Value Money Market

State Street S&P 500 Index G Large Blend

PIMCO Total Return A Intermediate-Term Bond

Hotchkis and Wiley Large Cap Value I Large Value

American Funds Grth Fund of Amer R3 Large Growth

AllianceBernstein Small-Mid Cap Value I Mid-Cap Value

Rainier Small/Mid Cap Equity Mid-Cap Growth

American Funds EuroPacific Gr R3 Foreign Large Blend

Coach 05-05-2008 01:51 PM

opticalc, if it were easy to move your funds into the next winner, everyone would do it. So don't expect a quick and easy answer to your question.

At least, don't do what a good friend of mine did -- at the end of every quarter he moved everything into the fund that performed the best during the quarter. Kind of makes sense, eh? But it's the perfect buy high, sell low strategy. He would have been so much better off if he had had a target retirement fund option and took it.


opticalc 05-05-2008 04:06 PM

well its not the next winner im looking for to move my investments into, I just want to keep from losing when things get bad. Say by moving everything to the money market cash fund that neither gains nor loses until the economy settles down and the majority of the funds I have available to choose from start performing again. I lost $8000 last year when things started to tank really bad this past September. I wish I had moved it all to cash beforehand, its not like the experts didnt see it coming, right? Or did they?

Or do I just have to deal with it?

RunningBum 05-05-2008 04:58 PM

Deal with it.

"Experts" call lots of things. They make sure everyone knows when they call it right. They remind no one when they called it right.

For anyone who says the last drop was easy to call, make them call what's going to happen in the next week, month, 6 months, or year. You won't hear too much bravado. Last September is history, deal with where you are now.

How do you tell when things "start performing again"? Last week was pretty good, was that the start? Maybe, maybe not. Wait too long to make sure the recovery has started, and you've missed a whole lot of the gain of the recovery. Go too early, and you'll lose money.

If you want to try market timing, go ahead, but most of us don't. I'm sure a few have been successful. I'll bet as many have underperformed the market by trying.

Maybe keep 80% invested according to a long term diversification plan, and try moving 20% in and out. See if you can track that 20% separately and see how you do.

kevin92610 05-05-2008 05:35 PM

I am with Running Bum. You are not going to succeed trying to jump in and out of the market. With the amount of money you are dealing with at the moment I would recommend finding a good index fund and letting it run. For that matter I wouldn't try to time the market for your investments either, just use dollar cost averaging.
Why use this method?? Go look at the DJIA over the last 10 years... it consistently goes up. Heck I remember back in the big dot-com boom, everyone got excited when the index broke 10,000 and here it is today sitting in the "toilet" at almost 13,000.

Regards, Kevin

travelover 05-05-2008 06:21 PM

You need to read a good book on finances like Bogleheads' Guide to Investing or Random Walk Down Wall Street.

It will clarify what others are telling you here.

JohnDoe 05-05-2008 08:29 PM


Originally Posted by opticalc (Post 653283)
Over the past few years I've taken some BIG hits due to who knows what... Basically I have zero growth in my 401k other than my contribution and my employers.

I think you need to review this and determine how and why and fully understand it. How else are you going to learn from your mistakes?

Pull out your statements and figure out what happened. I'm not sure how you could not have made money over 'the past few years'.

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