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  1. I believe the 1.34% is the mortality fee in addition to the fees of each fund that you have. If you continue further on that site and click on the link that discusses specific funds, each fund has an expense ratio as well. They range from 1% to 1.8%. This doesn't include the annual $30 fee if the account falls below the minimum. Finally, there are 12 years of surrender fees! Yikes.
  2. I might be mistaken, but I think you can start a Roth IRA at Vanguard with $1000 in their STAR fund. It's a more conservative fund, but at least it's a start. Just save up for a lump sum and open a Roth when you can. It's after tax dollars anyway. Beware that Vanguard charges $2.50 per quarter for a fund that contains less than the minimum holding requirement too. For most retirment funds. a balance of $5k is needed. Still, even with that, Vanguard's fees are way lower than AXA's 2.5%, right? By the way, I was in the same boat. I'm 30 and have been investing with AXA for five years. I just stopped contributions. I'm going to try and wait until the surrender fee period is over. In the meantime, I just opened up a Vanguard Roth IRA and I also opened a 403(b) with T. Rowe Price. The books everyone recommended are great. So far, in the past few months, I've read Mutual Funds by John Bogle, The boglehead's guide to investing, Mutual Funds by Morningstar, The Four Pillars of Investing by Bernstein among a few others. I highly recommend all of them. I also recommend Smart Couples Finish Rich by Richard Bachs. This is a great FIRST book to read. My husband and I read it together and it helped us to set up our entire financial plan--short term, mid range, long term and for retirement. It's what sparked our interest into looking into investing. Good luck
  3. Hi everyone. I'm still researching vanguard target date retirement funds and T. Rowe Price Retirement Funds. Vanguard invests in 4 major index funds, and they are mostly domestic. Their overall expense ratio is .23. The Target Retirement Funds at T. Rowe Price, on the other hand, invest in 11 different funds. The overall expense ratio is .83. One of the funds has a 5 star rating right now according to morningstar and three of the funds have a 4 star rating. Most of these funds are not index funds. It seems that there is much more variety (small cap and international) and more managed accounts at TRP and this is why the expense ratio costs more. It also is a more aggressive account, I think. These funds seems to be doing very well with their annual returns in recent years. Is this why it is so high? What else should I be looking at in making my choice? Are these reasons good enough reasons to offset the difference in costs? My husband has been leaning toward TRP. The website is much more user friendly re: 403(b)'s at TRP and he got a better feeling with them when he talked to them on the phone. But we wanted to investigate further before making a decision. Thanks.
  4. Thanks everyone. The responses make a lot of sense. This is beginning to sound a bit more familiar with your help and then my research. I'm starting to feel that I have a beginner's understanding of my finances. I only wish I had started this process earlier and that there were opportunities within the district to discuss our retirement. Professional development days would be nice. Nobody seems to talk about retirement in either of the two districts where I've worked. It's just so important. Whether I make money, lose money or break even, I at least want to know what it is that I did to get there!
  5. First of all, thanks so much to those of you who have helped me figure out how to start a new 403(b) and stop contributions on my VA. I think I will just monitor my VA until surrender fees go down, or until the VA stops making money, as well as watch the new fund, whichever comes first. (It's still making almost 5 percent...which I guess isn't horrible.) Still, I have a few questions that I was hoping you could address. 1. I've been looking into Vanguard's retirement funds. Now, the research I've read says they tend to be a bit conservative. It makes perfect sense that they would be as those who invest in them don't fully understand the market. So, I was thinking of choosing one according to asset allocation, not retirement date. I think I might want the 2045 fund even though I'm 30. I understand there are more stocks and less bonds. Am I on the right track? Is there any reason not to do this other than what I stated? 2. Next. I definitely want to research and watch mutual funds but I would rather get started now in a new retirement fund such as Vanguard's TR as conservative as it may be. I imagine it would take a few months (if not years) to fully understand fully how different mutual funds work, and I don't want to wait to get started on my second retirement fund. Now, another criticism of the conservative TR is that it really doesn't put a lot of international and small cap funds in the portfolio. Now, if I wanted to do that and diversify further, what are my choices? Can I eventually change the TR fund to a different type of Vanguard fund that would allow me to select my own funds? If so, how would I do that? Is that what you mean by a 1035? Or would I start a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA or a regular taxable account with different types of mutual funds, not necessarily index funds. but perhaps balanced funds, for example? 3. What other types of funds make sense for taxable accounts? I know the Bogleheads explain that index funds are great for taxable accounts because of the low turnover. Are there any other types that work as well? Anyway, thanks so much already! Back to the books....
  6. Well, fortunately for me, I am now in a school district that allows us to select just about whichever company we would like to use. The last district I worked for only allowed us to select from 10 companies. Out of the 10, nine were insurance companies offering annuities. The 10th is Fidelity, and it's only on there because the one busines teacher found it on his own and demanded it be added to the list. I don't think most teachers know about it. Most people in the former district use one specific insurance company, Citistreet, because the local school district endorses it. Come to find out, they only endorse it because that company has contributed to the state's union! Is this typical too? And here I thought I was doing a great thing by beginning an investment at age 25! Live and learn I guess.
  7. Thanks so much! I will definitely look into those funds and those books as well. I guess I have some research to do!
  8. Thanks for the help, apteacher! I did my homework and checked with payroll. I can use Vanguard as well as Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. I just finished reading my copy of The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing as well. I'm going to the library to check on some of the other ones. What are my immediate steps? I just called my 403b insurance company and asked them for a new salary reduction agreement so I can stop investing with them. Do I just tell them I don't want to put any more money in there for awhile while I wait and decide if I want to do a transfer and pay surrender fees? I've been researching Vanguard for a few weeks already. But I don't know what type of account to open or what type of funds to buy with Vanguard? Can anyone help or recommend any books to read for that? Thanks again!
  9. I am 30 years old and have been investing with AXA equitable in a variable annuity for the past 5 years. I've been reading up on this website and am worried that I made a bad decision at age 25 by not researching these companies. I have about $34,000 invested right now. The surrender fees are 6 percent right now. They drop down to 5 percent next year and won't drop completely until another 6 years from now. What are my options? Should I consider making a transfer to a lower cost fund? If so, which one or which ones? How do I go about making a 90-24 transfer if I have those surrender fees? Is it worth just biting the bullet and paying them? How do I even go about it? In the meantime, what other options do I have? Can I open an additional 403b fund somewhere else? Please, any advice to this naive investor would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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