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  1. Need help- Chicago Public School System 403B and 457 Plans

    I'm in CPS and Empower holds my account. My partner is also with the board. For my own retirement I put money into my Roth first and then money into my 403b that is invested in a Vanguard Target Date Fund. Have you obtained your pin number yet? The whole system can a be a bit confusing. I may be able to help if you want to talk or email privately. If you did not select the HSA option during open enrollment this year, its worth a look next year as the $600 free dollars is nice if you have the cash flow necessary to use an HSA.
  2. "Level 3 Investing"

    My grandfather, who's something like my role model having retired comfortably after a life of living frugally as a union painter, gave me James B. Cloonan's "Investing at Level 3." I'm not sure if any folks are familiar with Cloonan or the American Association of Individual Investors, but I wanted your take. "Level 2" investing is about where our lovely podcast hosts would have all of us, level 3 investing differs because it points to the potential imbalance of regular index funds that disproportionately put money towards the large cap stocks that are part of the fund. He recommends "equal weighted fund" like EQAL and RSP. Another interesting idea he has is using margin as a hedge or emergency fund... but that's a bit complicated for me. Anyone read it or read AAII? Thoughts?
  3. Chicago Public School Single Vendor 403b/457 Plans

    Indeed, Scott helped me with understanding the true fees after I was featured on the Pod with a couple of my students. When we looked in, we found it extremely difficult to clarify the fee structure (took probably a combined 2hrs of phone calls and some math problems looking at paperwork) but discovered, as you point to, that the fees are comparatively low.
  4. How Many People Max Out Their 403B's?

    Advocacy is really about organizing and this means face time. To manage relationships with as many people as you can and to work to engage those that are not engaged. There's not really a short-cut save if your family already had connections that can be leveraged to take political action. Advocacy for me has meant organizing students to give congressional testimony, writing letters and petitions, organizing my staff to strike and take other actions, collaborating with other activists groups, writing letters to those with power and demanding change, writing articles for various publications, speaking truth to power in professional situations when momentum might lead to the same inequalities I stand against, and registering thousands of voters. I'm sure thats not just it. But one thing everyone should know is how few people truly contact their elected representatives. You and 5 people you're connected to can really make an impact if you're willing to make a phone call to a state senator.
  5. How Many People Max Out Their 403B's?

    I enjoy your take and personally agree that taxes (and not just on income) should increase for those of us that have benefitted from the unprecedented wealth of our country. I'm an advocate on this in a number of ways: my congress people know my name :). I do think that as long as I'm able, I'll use the same tricks the wealthy use to build my own wealth and I'll those same tricks to the children and families I teach. In regards to 529, restrictions on use are not much of a concern... almost any type of vocational or professional training are acceptable. Over-funding should be a concern and is why users should error on the side of under-funding. For many rich folks using 529 as a dodge, this isnt a concern because they routinely shift the beneficiary among their extended relatives to maximize its benefits.
  6. How Many People Max Out Their 403B's?

    Interesting. Why opposed to saving for education? For me, the 529 is a wonderful account because the beneficiary can be changed so easily (right now it's helping me save money in graduate school, and it may help my wife next, eventually our children) and because the wide range of education and training for which they can be used (for example, I have to take a re-test to maintain my US Merchant Marine License, I drive boats in the summer, and I can use funds to pay for the fee of the test.) Some might be opposed to 529 (like Obama was) because they are essentially tax dodges for those with the liquid capital to afford them. In my state, you get up to 10k deducted from State Income taxes.
  7. The Podcast Needs To Become More Political

    Let me define politics as "how we live together." That political discussions that relate to our two current political parties are political in the sense that we are discussion how we tax ourselves, what our taxes go towards, and how we prioritize our collective initiatives such as defense, infrastructure, etc. So many teachers, and people generally, carry the idea that it is impolite to talk politics and that they'd rather just do their jobs and not get into these necessarily contentious discussions. You can hear this inclination in the first 10-20 episodes of the podcasts. Now that Trump is attacking retirement systems, our hosts are happy to discuss politics but have been more or less unwilling to discuss politics when it comes to pension systems, funding sources, charter schools, equitable funding formulas, and other politically contentious issues (each of them, like retirement systems, misunderstood because of the amount of mis-and-incomplete information available.) Each of these issues relates either directly or through budget decisions on the ability to "teach and retire rich" so there are times I think our hosts can play a positive role by clarifying information and giving examples of advocacy. I do think that when political discussions threaten our students, teachers can play a vital role in advocating for what's in the best interest for our students. To give just one example, early childhood education here in Chicago was funded through social impact bonds paying several banks an 18% return on a 4-year loan. The way this has been reported, most Chicagoans would likely praise the mayor and city council for getting early childhood education expanded, but they would fail to realize the ridiculous and unnecessary costs of the funding program.
  8. How Many People Max Out Their 403B's?

    I dont max. Our current number 1 priority is paying off my wife's college loans. Once this is complete, we'll have to consider either maxing 403b or paying off our mortgage. Currently we max both our Roth's, my HSA, and a 529 college savings plan. I wonder others thoughts on what to max first and last. In my opinion, Roth's should be the number 1 priority because of the liquidity advantage and ability to minimize your own fees.
  9. Agree or Disagree I've heard it become a bit more political in regards to Trump's attack on retirement, but I've thought for a long time that teachers should necessarily be advocates for their students when it comes to political discussions.
  10. In fact Schwab's Target Date funds are managed funds. Perhaps Schwab gets smart and adjusts these as some point.
  11. January made 10-yrs in Chicago Public Schools making me eligible to run for a teacher spot on our pension board. I wonder if any posters have experience as pension trustees and might offer advice for me. I am confident I can be a powerful advocate for pensioners and that I have an above average understanding of finance and investment. What I do worry about is the time commitment diminishing my teaching efforts and family life. I'm also unsure as to my prospects for success. We're a HUGE district and my name is somewhat well known because of my work on the district wide financial literacy curriculum and advocacy within our union, but I'll need 200 signatures to get on the ballot and then I'll have to win in November.
  12. I'm not certain about Vanguard fund, but there's more than a 70 basis point difference between what I can do with ETFs and what I would be charged for a target date fund through Schwab.
  13. It's really been a learning process. My Target Date Fund made perfect sense when I first funded my Roth IRA and was far less knowledgeable about index funds and ETFs. Now that I've become more and more informed, I can save hundreds, perhaps thousands, over the life of my investment through DIY rebalancing. The advice I'd give to new investors would be to use funds that carry no fees and commission (I'm guessing Fidelity and other companies offer a similar deal to Schwab here) so that if/when you're ready to take on the task of rebalancing yourself, you can transition out of a target date investment with no costs.
  14. Thanks Tony! This might have been the straw that broke the back of the camel that was my large investment in a target date fund. I've known for at least 2 years that I'd be able to use that money to create my own, much lower-fee, investment portfolio. I pulled the trigger today. Thanks to using Schwab funds through my Schwab account, it is completely free of fees, so that's nice.
  15. Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Retirement Story Blog

    Tony, that's great advice and its advice I give to many of the newbies I've mentored: make a plan for work life balance, be an adult outside of work, and you're probably spending too much time grading (an example of spending your time in a way that will provide the most powerful benefit to the students.) I do have to say, if you were in my school, I would have questioned you leaving at the bell each day if you did not do any planning or feedback delivery at home. The fact of the matter is that resources are so scarce and children in concentrated areas of poverty (both rural and urban) today face so many challenges that to be proficient means that you're putting in extra. Or at least, I've not seen the teacher that can call themselves successful simply working to the rules of their contract and no more.