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Vanguard, with more than $5 trillion in global assets under management, is the world’s largest mutual fund provider – and for good reason.

Vanguard funds pioneered index investing and, since its founding in the 1970s by the late Jack Bogle, have emphasized low costs. Organized like a mutual insurance company, Vanguard’s funds are owned by fund shareholders and run “at-cost.” There’s no need to turn a profit to satisfy outside investors.

Any time I’m tasked with covering Vanguard funds, I’m a happy guy. Very few Vanguard funds haven’t done right by investors, but Vanguard is especially good for those in retirement. Retirees, after all, don’t want to take outsize risks in their investing, and Vanguard’s managers aren’t encouraged to take big gambles. Low costs remove a lot of the pressure on managers to take extra risk in the hopes of squeezing out a little more profit.

Here are my five best Vanguard funds for retirees. This list heavily emphasizes active management (but I do think highly of some Vanguard index funds). Several of my picks also are recommended by Dan Wiener, editor of the The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors newsletter.

Says Wiener: “Find a good manager at Vanguard, and you’ll find a fund that will outperform its benchmark and comparable Vanguard index funds.”


Data is as of April 17. Yields represent the trailing 12-month yield, which is a standard measure for equity funds.

Steven Goldberg
Contributing Columnist, Kiplinger.com
Steve has been writing for Kiplinger's for more than 25 years. As an associate editor and then senior associate editor, he covered mutual funds for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine from 1994-2006. He also authored a book, But Which Mutual Funds? In 2006 he joined with Jerry Tweddell, one of his best sources on investing, to form Tweddell Goldberg Investment Management to manage money for individual investors. Steve continues to write a regular column for Kiplinger.com and enjoys hearing investing questions from readers. You can contact Steve at 301.650.6567 or sgoldberg@kiplinger.com.