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Free Iphone, fixing your 401k, and evil mutual fund managers (via expense ratios and fund fees)

I know, first thing you are wondering is FREE Iphone? WHERE CAN I GET IT!? Well, just hold on a few and read through. I was talking to one of my friends from work about viking death metal (no joke) and rock band (pretty much the best video game ever) and somehow the conversation drifted toward the 401k plan at our company. He said he had been dabbling in a few of the funds offered and seemed surprised when I said I was dumping 90% of mine (and my girlfriends) into our one index fund. So of course he asked me why? Well, its very very simple. Nearly every mutual fund available in our plan has an expense ratio greater than one.

Mutual Fund fees ruin returns

What the hell is an expense ratio and why do I care?

The expense ratio is the percent of total assets that the investor is charged just to be in the fund. This is supposed to cover the costs of running the mutual fund…but honestly it really is how mutual fund houses and managers steal your money to make themselves multimillionaires. Here is the simple version:

The Penny Saved IphoneMutual fund from your 401k you are in:

BIG MUTUAL FUND: expense ratio: 1.50%

Lets say youve been working for a few years so you have 20k in your 401k. Lets say you get a return this year of 10%. Wow sweet an extra $2000! But wait a minute, your mutual fund that are in has an expense ration of 1.50 so they keep 15% of that. You only get $1700 and they keep that other $300.

Lets say you were instead investing in the index fund with an expense ratio of .10 (actual number for mine). Instead of the fund keeping $300, they would be keeping $10. That extra money, why, thats your free iphone right there. Ok so maybe you can’t actually pull that $300 out and buy an iphone (though you could if it was a Roth IRA) but you get the point.

But dont mutual funds make more money than index funds?
No, 85% of mutual funds fail to beat the market average.

Other types of expenses that mutual funds might charge:

Front-end load
This is basically a fee paid when shares are purchased. It is also known as a “front-end load,” and this fee goes to the brokers that sell the fund’s shares. Front-end loads reduce the amount of your investment. A good example is if you have $1,000 and want to invest it in a mutual fund with a 5% front-end load. The $50 you pay comes off the top, and so only $950 will be invested in the fund.

Back-end load
This is where the brokers take their cut when you decide to sell shares. This is even worse because they take part of your capital gains as well. Some mutual funds let you out of these if you stay with them long enough but its just one more robbery trick.

Level load / Low load
The only difference between level loads and low loads as opposed to back-end loads, is that this time frame where charges are levied is shorter.
Load of Crap
Most of the above fees.

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