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Rule Breaker Mailbag: How Can I Pick the Best Mutual Funds for My 401(k)?

By Motley Fool Staff - Dec 11, 2017 at 11:00PM

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Listener Steve, like so many of us, has a retirement account with limited options.

In this segment from the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, David Gardner brings in an expert to discuss one of the core questions for large numbers of retirement portfolios. If your company offers you a 401(k), you should absolutely take advantage. That's a given. But how can you best pick among the fund options that your employer has selected to offer? Allyson Wines, director of product experience, helps David provide an answer, and then some.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Nov. 29, 2017.

David Gardner: Mailbag Item No. 10: This one comes from Steve. Steve writes, "David, I've enjoyed using your Rule Breakers service." That's our product over the past couple of years. "It's really helped me in my stock selections. However, I would like to know. Do any of your services ever provide assistance in managing selections for a 401(k) plan?" Steve writes, "My 401(k) only has mutual funds to select from. It currently accounts for about 25% of my net worth, and since I'm in my early 50s" -- I'm in that same club, too, Steve -- "I know I need to be wise in how I handle all of my funds. Appreciate any feedback you may have."

Well, who better to ask than Ally Wines, one of my favorite Fools here at The Motley Fool. Ally oversees our products at The Motley Fool. And Ally, I don't know whether we have the targeted answer for Steve, but give it your best shot. Give it our best shot. What can we do for the Steves of the world?

Ally Wines: For the Steves of the world. OK, so I'm pretending I'm Steve right now. Anyway, thanks for writing in, Steve. This is Ally, and I am part of our product team. And as I'm putting on my Steve hat and thinking about a 401(k), this is actually a dilemma I faced myself here at The Motley Fool with my old IRA from an old company.

We do have a resource, here, in our product suite and it is called Rule Your Retirement. In fact, one of David's fellow podcasters, Robert Brokamp, who's on the Motley Fool Answers podcast runs that service. He has an awesome section that's model allocations of funds that you can use in your 401(k).

Now the trick, he says, is that not all of those funds are available in every 401(k). But I love his service. I think it's something that every investor should check out. Again, it's called Rule Your Retirement. If you want to see what it has to offer, you could just go to

It's not just the allocation advice that he gives, but he also can talk to you about how to maximize your 401(k). How to think about it. Later in life how you want to think about drawing down. He's basically an expert in all these things, and he's our very own Fool.

Again, only about 20% of 401(k)s do allow you to choose individual stocks.

He also said, and this is a tip maybe you want to take, Steve, as I'm putting on my Steve hat, is you can ask your employer if they would consider allowing you to invest in individual stocks. It sounds like you have a penchant for it, already. Bro, what we call Robert Brokamp, doesn't know if it will work.

Gardner: Maybe if you treat that person to lunch, Ally? Maybe if you speak very nicely to them, and treat them to lunch, and invite them, maybe, to improve the organization's 401(k) plan, that's not a bad lunch spent.

Wines: I think that sounds like a wonderful lunch. Yes, David. So that was what Bro suggested. I do want to say that I'm happy that Steve is a Rule Breakers member.

Gardner: You betcha!

Wines: That is a wonderful service, and I have to take a moment to talk about what I'm looking at with our services right now. It's one of the services that you work on, David. Motley Fool Explorer is going to be running a special offer for members in the coming weeks. December 13 is the big day, but we'll be bringing some new members into the service, and it's great for folks who are familiar with Rule Breakers or Stock Advisor because it goes through all of David Gardner's awesome stock picks. Well, not all of them are awesome, but...

Gardner: Sadly.

Wines: ... but most of them.

Gardner: I will say many, unfortunately. Not even most, but many.

Wines: Many!

Gardner: And enough that we crush the market by wiping out our losers with our big winners.

Wines: Exactly. And all the fans listening to this podcast know David's philosophy around investing, but I don't know how many of you are familiar with Explorer. What I love about this is each month we focus on a trend that's out there. Some recent trends are cloud computing. Mobile technology in China. Robotics.

Gardner: I've heard of those things.

Wines: And I just know from meeting so many of our members over the years and just hearing questions that people get excited around these. You want to know what is the next big trend, what are some stocks that I can buy now that maybe are going to take off, as robotics takes off and our whole world is run by these beings and creatures that we don't understand. AndExplorer can help you do that.

We're really excited about this. I love this service. It's a lot of fun, and it feels like a great next step for a lot of Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers members.

Gardner: That is awesome, Ally. Thank you very much for bringing an idea. I know you're head of our products, so you always have them on your mind, but your answer to Steve about Rule Your Retirement, which is one of our most popular services -- and certainly, a lot of Motley Fool podcast fans who are listening know Robert Brokamp and realize that. Ally Wines, thanks so much for joining us!

Wines: Thanks so much for having me!

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