Money Magazine: Help Desk: How can I make sure my 401(k) investments don’t overlap with those in my wife’s plan?

Money Magazine: Help Desk: How can I make sure my 401(k) investments don’t overlap with those in my wife’s plan?

How can I ensure that my 401(k) investments don’t overlap with those in my wife’s plan?
— Thomas Van Dyke, Fort Mill, S.C.

If spouses each have a 401(k) plan, duplication is likely; don’t focus on whether they overlap, but how they overlap. “You’re going to be living off the total sum of these funds one day,” says Jorie Johnson, a financial planner in Manasquan, N.J., so you want to view both plans as part of a single portfolio.

To get the big picture, use the Instant X-Ray tool on Morningstar.com. You type in ticker symbols and the amounts invested in each of your funds, and you’ll get a breakdown of the type of stocks in the total portfolio (large value vs. small growth stocks, say) and how big a stake you have in individual sectors, such as energy. You’ll be able to see whether your combined portfolio has an asset allocation appropriate for you.

To see how individual stocks overlap, use Morningstar’s Portfolio X-Ray at troweprice.com.

Registration is required, but free.

— Carolyn Bigda

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