Instead of eating up your brains, they devour your nest egg with high expenses and walking dead performance. They may be lurking within your 401(k)-type plan or individual retirement account.
I like index funds because they generally can track nearly any kind of asset class. As such, they are the white bread of investing and should cost about the same from fund to fund. The cheaper the better. Why pay Nieman-Marcus prices for the same thing you can get at Costco or Sam’s Club for less?
You can vanquish these funds without overtly violent acts, but first you have to identify them. Unfortunately, mandated fee disclosure is still pending, so you have to take the initiative.
So how do you identify a zombie fund? First you need a reliable benchmark for comparison purposes. The easiest way is to look at the index that the fund is supposed to be tracking. A good proxy for the U.S. bond market, for example, is the Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index. It’s a basket of listed bonds. If a fund tracks the index return within 0.20 percentage points or less, then that’s pretty good and not expensive.
A low-cost bond index fund would look like the Fidelity Spartan Intermediate Term Bond Index investor class fund, with a 0.20 percent expense ratio. You’d need at least $10,000 to get into this fund, though.