When you hear about investing for retirement, you usually hear about mutual funds.

More specifically index funds. Especially if you have been reading my articles.

It’s not just me.

Index funds are widely held as one of the best investments for retirement.

Especially if you want the easy way out.

Even Warren Buffett recommends index funds for the average investor.

That’s all good and well, but there are thousands of index funds, which ones should you invest in?

Good question and here is the answer…

Determine Your Situation

This is going to be a very straight forward explanation.

Straight Forward Guide to Index Funds for Retirement

A cut and dry guide to index funds for retirement, straight ahead!

That means that it won’t be all inclusive. This article is very generalized and because of that, some things may be left out. The goal is to give you a general idea of what you need to do.

I am going to give you specific index funds, including links to view them.

Related: Retirement 101: When and How to Start Contributing to Your Retirement.

First, you need to determine your situation.

The main factor is your age.

Other factors may include:

  • Your current assets
  • Your current retirement balance
  • An incoming inheritance

You will need to determine you retirement goals depending on when you plan to retire and the quality of life you want to have once you do retire.

Investing for the Future

If you’re investing, you’re investing for the future. You do that with goals.

In this article, I’ll give you specific index funds based on your age. Obviously this isn’t a “one size fits all” scenario, but it’s a great guideline.

The words aggressive, moderate and conservative are self-explanatory. Index funds can range from extremely aggressive (high potential for gain and for loss) to extremely conservative (little to no potential for loss and not much potential for gain).

If you can’t afford the minimum initial investment of the fund(s) you want, begin with a starter mutual fund that has a lower initial investment until you have enough to invest in the fund you want.

Aggresive: If You’re Under 30

You have plenty of time to be aggresive in your investing habits now. Here are some index funds to include in your portfolio:

Aggressive to Moderate: 30 to 40

You still have time, but you also need to start being a little more conservative. You could still keep part of your portfolio in the above index funds, but here are some index funds to add:

Moderate to Conservative: 40 to 50

By this point, you may want to cut your aggressive funds down drastically, depending on the level of risk you are willing to take. Here are some funds to add and replace the more aggressive funds with:

Conservative: If You’re Over 50

Now you shouldn’t have any aggressive funds, unless you really like to live on the edge. You may want some of your portfolio in moderate funds, but now the majority of your portfolio should include funds like this:

Final Words

You can include a variety from the lists given here. These aren’t the only index funds you should own, this is just a guideline.

Put more into aggressive funds when you’re young. Put more into conservative funds when you’re older. That’s the main takeaway.

There are also plenty of other companies that offer great funds. I just listed USAA and Vanguard, because they are well-established and…I just like their funds.

As I said, this list doesn’t apply to everyone, but it can give you an idea of where you money should be.

Different people have different goals and every situation is unique.

This is as close to a step-by-step guide as it gets for the broad topic of retirement.

One last note, just because a fund isn’t in you age-range, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. This is for the “average” investor. For example, almost anyone would benefit from own a S&P 500 index fund.

I hope this has helped you! Read more on investing here.

Photo Credit: David Goehring, Robert Parviainen, StockMonkeys.com