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Mutual Funds

Target Funds That Don't Double-Dip

These one-stop funds are easy. But do they cost too much?


So-called target funds, used to save for retirement, are made up of collections of other funds. Aren't the fund companies double-dipping on fees -- charging you for the target fund and the funds they invest in, too?

Target-date funds are great for busy investors. These funds operate on autopilot, spreading assets among stocks, bonds and cash (typically using other funds to do so) and adjusting the mix to become more conservative as retirement approaches. A few fund families still layer two fees into their target funds, but such double-dippers as the American funds and American Century aren't all that expensive, anyway.

Regardless of how the fees add up (check the prospectus for details), you shouldn't pay more than 1% or so, all told. Still, the target funds we like best don't charge twice: T. Rowe Price Retirement series, with expenses ranging from 0.56% of assets to 0.74% (depending on the target year); Vanguard Target Retirement funds (0.20% to 0.21%); and Fidelity Freedom funds (0.51% to 0.76%).