Fidelity’s Year-to-Date Change Feature

My wife’s company moved their 401(k) to Fidelity in January 2001. For the most part, it was a good move. One feature that Fidelity has that I really like is the Year-to-Date Change screen that looks like this:

(If this were an anonymous blog, I would have no problem giving more details.)

Anyway, Fidelity started offering this information a couple of years ago. I really like the fact that it gives us our year-to-date personal rate of return, which happens to be 8% so far this year. On the last day of each year I like to print out this page along with the transaction history for the entire year because it gives a great summary of what went on with our account. Then I file this information in our 401(k) folder for future reference. I also have a massive Excel file that I have used to track every transaction in the 401(k) but I haven’t updated it since December, 2004.

How much attention do you pay to your 401(k) or retirement account? Do you check the balance daily, weekly, or monthly? I’m a daily guy (unless the market was really down). They say the more frequently you check your balance, the more likely you are to make changes. So far, I have never let the short-term market swings cause me to make changes. Instead, when the market is down I just think about all those extra shares we are going to pick up because of the lower prices!

UPDATE: In response to CK’s comment below, here’s what Fidelity has to say about the way personal rate of return is calculated:

Your Personal Rate of Return is calculated with a time-weighted formula, widely used by financial analysts to calculate investment earnings. It reflects the result of your investment selections as well as any activity in the plan account(s) shown. There are other Personal Rate of Return formulas used that may yield different results. Remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

I have written about personal rate of return in the past:

How to Calculate Your Personal Rate of Return

Question From a Reader: Calculating Returns

Question From a Reader: Calculating Personal Rate of Return

Figuring Your Personal Rate of Return

14 thoughts on “Fidelity’s Year-to-Date Change Feature”

  1. Yup, I use the “Year-to-Date Change” feature as well.

    Dang, 8% return so far? I just logged in and saw mine at 6.9%. What does your wife invest in?

  2. You should have at least said something like $XX,XXX,XXX.XX and really impressed us!

  3. I hear you about not checking balances on a big down day. It’s kind of like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. If you don’t check your balances on a big down day, did you really lose any money?

  4. I think the correlation between the frequency of checking balances vs. trading is for individual stocks in regular brokerage accounts; it doesn’t make much sense for mutual funds in retirement accounts. I seldom check my actual 401(k)/IRA, but I have a fake portfolio in Yahoo consisting of ETFs linked to my actual holdings. I watch it obsessively throughout the day, every day, but the only trades I ever make is to re-balance the portfolio once a year.

    I’m at 6.9%, too. I think that Mrs. JLP might have a bigger stake in international holdings. (Her balance has also got an extra decimal point on me, too…)

  5. I check out my 401(k) daily. I have had to learn the discipline not to tinker with it!!! And it was really hard. However, now that I’ve been able to keep my mitts off it for a substantial amount of time I’m also starting to see some positive growth whereas when I was a heavy tinkerer I was basically treading in place.

    I do wish the rate of the return was so clear-cut on mine though.


  6. We also have Fidelity for our 401k. The one thing Fidelity has never been able to answer is if that change includes the $ contributed to your 401k (either by you or by matching $) or the change in market value (this is the number we want – how are our investments doing). The fact that we could not verify this pushed us back to using Vanguard’s ROI (which requires actual $ to be entered by hand, but seems to give more accurate results based on the investment funds ROI).

  7. I check mine every couple of months. I don’t record what it was between times so I don’t get tempted to sell, I only record year to year, more so I can see the overall picture of my finances and compare performance of different funds tracking the same index.

  8. The Fidelity numbers are based on change in market from the beginning balance. So contributions made during the year only effect the rate of return if they generate returns.

    My current rate is 9.4%. Not bad at all.

    FID MID CAP STOCK are responsible for a bit of that.
    YTD Return (05/04/2007) 13.59%
    Not a recommendation, just a stat.

  9. I have a 403(b) through Fidelity and curiously they don’t offer that view. I can’t see any reason for this since the plan is equivalent to a 401(k) except it is directed to the public sector.

  10. Duane: did you sign up for online statements? I think you only see the personal rate of return if you get online statements.

    Mine is at 7.6% which isn’t bad considering I don’t really know what I’m doing! 🙂

  11. I currently have a Rollover 401k with Fidelity and I can not find the year-to-date tab anywhere within my account options. Do you have any tips on how to find this tab?

  12. Yeah, I have fidelity too and that is a nice feature although it SUCKS looking at it so far this year. I guess we just hope for the best going forward eh?

    I’m relatively new to this too but this downswing is enough to make me puke. Red Red everywhere..

  13. Down…Negative 38%……I changed my contributions from 7% to 6%……if it rate of return keeps decreasing, so will my contributions, hehe

  14. Mine is with usaa, I’m not sure if they use a different method to calculate the return rate or if mine is just really good but it says my ytd rate of return is 45.6%!

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