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Best Mutual Funds in 401(k) Retirement Plans

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The 401(k) plan is now officially middle-aged. It turned 40 this year, which means some newly retired workers out there may have saved for their retirement exclusively in a 401(k). It’s certainly a milestone.

But saving isn’t enough. To make sure you have enough money to last through retirement, investing it wisely is just as important. Picking the best mutual funds to go into your 401(k) can go a long way toward helping you reach your savings goals years from now, when it’s time to cash in your workplace retirement plan.

Low-cost index funds, which simply track a market benchmark, are a great option if your plan offers them. You can also fare well with target-date funds – blends of stocks and bonds designed to get more conservative over time. These funds are now the default option in many plans, and we highly recommend some.


Many plans also offer actively managed funds, and that’s where things get trickier. Choose a good active fund and you can profit handsomely, beating the market benchmarks. Pick poorly and, well, you know how that goes.

To help, in this our fourth annual review of the most popular 401(k) mutual funds, we analyzed the top 100 portfolios – those with the most in workplace defined-contribution plan assets, according to financial consulting firm BrightScope. The goal: to find the best funds of the bunch and highlight them here.

Here are our 27 top mutual fund picks for 401(k) retirement savers. These funds may not be available in your 401(k) plan. And many may not be suitable for your personal situation. But each of these funds has its merits, making it a good choice in its respective category.

SEE ALSO: 101 Best Dividend Stocks to Buy for 2019 and Beyond

Fund symbols and returns refer to the most accessible investor share class available. The share classes in your 401(k) may be different (and cheaper). Funds are listed alphabetically by fund family. Returns and data are as of Oct. 25, 2018, unless otherwise noted. Three- and five-year returns are annualized.


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