In full disclosure, this is a blatant plug for a friends book, but I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to figure out what they should do with the funds in their 401K plan.
The 401K Cookbook is just that. A cookbook. The basic premise is that if you want to make brownies you don't need to know how sugar and flour chemically bond with water and chocolate to create yummy brownies, all you need to know is what proportions to put in the mixing bowl. The same logic applies to retirement investing. You don't need to know about portfolio theory, risk premiums, efficient frontiers, you just need to know where to put your money and be done with it.
The 401K Cookbook starts off with a little test that tries to figure out your true investing age. If you are more risk averse, your investing age will be higher, if you are less risk averse your age will be lower. You then turn to the page for your investing age and use the allocations that are presented there. It's that simple.
Once you've created your portfolio, you just need to come back in a year or two and re-take the test and tweak the weights. The whole process shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. But if you want to learn more about the logic behind the asset allocations, you can read the back 1/3 of the book which provides a crash course in retirement investing.
Ron Elmer, the author, has a long experience in money management. He's also a big advocate of indexing. He saw a need for a simple, straightforward book that people could use to set up their portfolios. As one didn't exist in the marketplace, he decided to write and publish it himself.
Ron is working on further versions of the book that deal with specific fund companies such as Vanguard and Fidelity.