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Posts posted by JudyS

  1. BigRed --


    Matt hutcheson is (IMHO) a good guy and his writings are certainly worthwhile. However, if you wanted a bottom-line, how-do-I-find-the-fees-in-my-very-own-401k kind of help, then you will be satisfied with Loeper's Stop the 401(k) RippOff. I recommend this book often and would teasure an opportunity to meet the author, also one of the good guys!!



  2. Caviles --

    Another option is to go to your payroll office and ask if they have another choice for you to do pre-tax retirement savings. In many places you might have available a 457 (or "deferred compensation"), which is often a better deal than our current problematic 403bs.


    And you don't really mean that they are charging you over 8% for each fund, do you? It's certainly not unheard of, but if that's the case, run fast!!


    Good luck!



  3. Ax,

    The only way it seems that anyone really becomes interested in managing their own retirement $$ seems to be the result of discovering you have been had. You're 1/2 way there. Although I would rather stick needles under my fingernails that read financial stuff, I HAD to, because no one else cared as much as me and without doing so we were always easy prey.


    But now people on this forum can save you all the time of discovery and send you right away to some of the best information out there. Joe gave you a book, and let me give you another: Bogle, John The Little Book Of CommonSense Investing. Buy it, don't get it from the library, because as a "newbie" you will be wanting to refer to it again and again. The other book I like to recommend is Swenson, Unconventional Success.........


    You can do it...



  4. Let's keep in mind that the insurance industry has a HUGE lobbying system in effect that has allowed them to never answer to the Feds... insurance companies generally answer to states, where things are easier to control. That's just the way they want it. 'Specially when you can split it up 50 ways -- as in divide and conquer. I SOOOOOOOOO wish Spitzer hadn't screwed up (pun intended) and was still with us, because he was one of the few who had the guts to take on these big guys. Andrew Cuomo is beginning, but he's not yet up for this enormous challenge.





  5. Steve --


    We got this today:



    George Miller, D-California, has been working on the 401k problem for quite a while and -- bless his soul -- he has stuck to it despite incessant and HEAVY pressure from the financial services industry. So check this out and let me suggest that you forward him an "Attaboy" (I am sure he doesn't hear much from us plain old folks on the street!). Then attach it and copy the "Attaboy" to your own congressional delegation. They MUST hear from us because we do in fact offset the crap they hear from the insurance and loaded mutual fund guys. Oops, excuse my unladylike language.





  6. 403bidiot --


    Check out the thread on this site by Brian222golf on December 2 -- there is discussion about the folks at 403bASP and 401kASP, including an officer of that company (Olsen, I believe) involved in the discussion. In many circles this company is highly thought of.


    Alternatively, and purely out of altruism, you understand, if you would just send me a plan ticket and put me up in a ######el for a couple of weeks, I am SURE we could come up with a fine plan!! ;)



  7. All --


    I believe there is a quite a bit of research out there on asset allocation and most 401k participants would be better off using a 60/40 split (stocks / bonds) than most other allocations. Additionally, look at the work that's been done by Shulteis, Swensen, Bernstein and others. I suspect there would be an opportunity to override an allocation if the participant so desired, but giving them an opportunity to have an AA based on research would be a great place to start for MOST.



  8. Kev, Steve and others,


    I concur that these SOBs at the top of the food chain are part of the problem. It's frustrating to know that we can do so little about it. On the other hand, it's been worthwhile to realize that around here the credit unions and small, local banks have not been party to these shenanigans.


    It may sound twisted, but I think that often those large amounts of $$ in the paycheck lead TO eroded human values and more irresponsible behavior. It doesn't seem that the companies he paid their leaders smaller but respectable salaries ended up needing bailouts.


    As evidence of my belief that high pay for CEOs leads to irresponsible behavior, here's an article about the ###### Scouts selling off forested land across the country for the $$$$. And way deep in the article you find the rather astronomical amounts being paid to the leadership all of a sudden. And maybe with the pay hikes the value system was thrown out the window?





  9. Steve --

    Who doesn't love Kathy Kristof -- she's good. But notably very few of her recommendations would have raised a red flag about Madoff....


    So I have a story. On Monday I went to a regional AARP meeting of volunteers who man a phone bank re: scams, frauds, and such. The guest speaker was a Assistant Agent In Charge with the regional FBI office. He really does Homeland Security, but agreed to talk about fraud. Great. Someone posed a question relative to Madoff, and he stated that the investor needs to do due diligence. So not being the quiet type, I asked why it rested entirely with the investor when excellent and detailed complaints about Madoff had been made to the SEC for years. I mean, that's fraud, isn't it? He said only that the investor needs to due his / her own due diligence. In other words, I guess, we shouldn't hold the SEC responsible in any way. I mean, they might have been BUSY or something!


    ARE YOU KIDDING????? If I did my job as poorly as the SEC ("Oh, go ahead and teach your kid to read, don't ask ME to do it!" or "Examine your own kid to see if he has disabilities and needs SPED, don't ask ME to do it!") I dare say I might have found myself unemployed!!


    In the meantime, my son called today. He lives near the Canadian border, crosses it several times a week, and now the new Homeland Security rule is that any Permanent Resident Alien under 18 must get out of the car and go into the border station and be subjected to questioning by Border Patrol. So he got his 18 month old adopted daughter (from Korea) out of her car seat (she'd not quite recovered from a recent illness and had some fresh vomit on her chest as well as a "dirty bomb" in her diaper!), along with his preschool-aged son and traipsed the entire unruly gang in for her inquisition. The agent was able to establish a good answer to "Where is your nose?" and "Who's your daddy?" before sending them on their way. Apparently he refused to follow up on the "dirty bomb"!


    I have some serious questions about investigative bodies of the Federal Government. The ones who DO investigate have nothing of consequence to do or ask about, and those who have something of consequence to investigate, don't.



  10. cbf49 --


    My, you have good questions. So I will answer them and then someone a whole lot smarter than I will chime in and give another point of view (or flat out correct me!).


    First of all, I can't think of any reason not to roll the AIG account right into an IRA. Easy to do -- just call Vanguard (or whomever) and they will send you the forms, you will make them out and return them, and they will "snag" the funds without any passing through your own hands (which could be ambiguous for the IRS. You don't want to "go there"!). No need to mess with handling it through the 403b route -- no advantage there.


    I really don't know whether there's a difference in the 59-1/2 rule on 403s and IRAs... but the good folks at Vanguard (or wherever) will be happy to share their opinion. That's an easy question for them. And your accountant should know.


    And I believe that your income from either kind of retirement fund (since neither is a Roth) will be taxed as ordinary income.


    Happy days!



    Cad --

    You're thinking, as we can see from your question. However, it appears that you are in the early stages of self-education that most of us here have pursued. How do we know that? You asked about rolling your account over to an account at a BANK!! No, no, no. If in fact you roll it over, you would want to select a no load mutual fund company like Vanguard, TRowe Price, USAA or other similar.


    Before you do much, please take some time to do some reading. Many people start their recommended reading list with Bogle, John The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. Probably available at your library. Keep reading here, and you might try one of the on line Boglehead forums, as well.


    Best Wishes!




    Kelly --

    I ran into this problem several years ago, getting different answers from my mutual fund company (in this case Vanguard), from an accountant, and from a 403b salesman for another company. In fact, at that time the limit was $10,000 and Vanguard said I could contribute 0 (ZERO) and everyone else said I could contribute the full $10,000. I even contacted the legal department at Vanguard and had them run in circles a few times and got their opinion in writing. Then I found the IRS citation, read it, and realized it was open to interpretation. So I kept everything for years just in case of legal problems, contributed as much as I could, and no one ever said anything. I concluded two things: (1) Vanguard (and TIAA-CREF, probably) took the most conservative possible interpretation, and (2) it was open to interpretation anyway.


    Of course, my little story is no guarantee of anything, but be assurred that you are not alone, if that helps!



  13. Intruder.... C'mon! I once tried to read the paperwork associated with an NEA TSA -- I had it (just another in my long litany of investment errors). Very shortly I couldn't understand a cotton-pickin' thing. I suppose that spending 40 hours a week on it, working through all the definitions and diagramming the whole thing, it could have been understood in just a few months, but I don't have the willpower for that exercise.


    Later I had occasion to discuss this with an attorney -- one who was peripherally involved with the NEA case, in fact. He laughed and told me that he was an attorney with the SEC in a previous life and HE couldn't make head nor tails out of the mess, either.


    As we well know, and as Bernie Makoff could testify, the SEC has not been approaching their work with any high level of intensity.


    There's plenty to talk to them about.



  14. Intruder -- ALL 403b accounts fall under SEC rules and regulations whether or not they are sold by insurance companies? Really? That would be a delight to me -- I am always looking for SOMEONE to write letters to! I will get in touch with the SEC and ask some questions....


    If that is true, y'all, when you write letters to congressmen, COPIES need to go to whatever or whomever is in charge at the SEC.... And it's so easy these days when you don't even have to use carbon paper! Simple! Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm................



  15. Joe, Tony, Intruder and all the rest...


    As I suggested before, MAKE YOUR LETTER DO A LOT OF WORK! Intruder is right that Miller has been working on ERISA issues. However, most of the issues with 401ks and 403bs are similar -- there is lots of overlap. Send your letter to everyone you THINK might be involved, and especially to your own senators and congressmen. AND TO YOUR STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER!!!! So many 403b problems relate to these insurance companies, and insurance companies are not stupid. They are not federally regulated -- they have deliberately and assiduously avoided that. They are only state regulated so they avoid as much oversight as possible.


    Just because you don't get an answer doesn't mean your letter wasn't read or acknowledged or didn't have an effect ... at least one of ours was never acknowledged but it did appear in the official congressional record.



  16. Dan, Kev, Steve, Tony and others....


    Unfortunately, I am still concerned that if we can keep the 403b it requires so much homework for teachers (who, I am sorry, are not at all good at doing homework, at least of the financial type!!) it will never work because so few people are willing to take personal responsibility for their own future, perhaps especially in the face of confusing choices. They believe that "someone else" has all the info and superior understanding and they don't know exactly how to figure out who that is, leaving them vulnerable. Even members of my former investment club, who are as thoughtful as you are likely to find and many of whom have Vanguard, have not done one single thing relative to 1/1/09. Nothing. I am disappointed, even disgusted. Furious, actually.


    So here's a question. Research would provide an interesting perspective, but I do not know where to find the data. Teachers all have had access to 403bs to supplement their retirement. So how many contribute and what percentage of their pay? After all, they have a whole array of choices. Compartively, federal employees have retirement and an opportunity to supplement with only the TSP, a superior, low cost plan. They have no confusion of choices. How many of them contribute and what percentage of their pay? My hypothesis is that more of the federal employees contribute and they contribute a higher percentage of their pay. If so, that might suggest that having a single, solid choice is the best deal.


    Can anyone find the data to test this hypothesis?



  17. Kev --

    Here's another idea.... while others may not agree, I think. Anyway, if you go to www.FundAdvice.com, they offer a variety of portfolios, including all-Vanguard. Looks like their allocation may fit with some of your ideas. I like their work and their analysis. Many articles to read there as well.



  18. Hi, All,


    This is a follow-up to the What Should I Do thread? Not that anyone here needs another reason to be morose, but the fact is that the financial services industry seems to be getting away with a lot of things, above and beyond our little corner of the world. I gave this to my better 1/2 tonight and I thought he was going to have a coronary right there!! Enjoy:







  19. Hi, all...

    Well, Tony, we are ALL tired of making the same tirade -- and here we are in the forest and no one hears our tirade.


    But an idea about switching OUT of a plan now and moving to something else.... while the market is low, the 7% (or whatever) surrender fee will be less than it would be if the market in general were at a higher level!! Gotta be some satisfaction in that! Better to do it now than after the market goes up(if ever)!



  20. Hi all,


    Good grief, how many of our sad stories do you want? Let's see, there was my husband's roll-over in the mid 80's that a MONY salesman put into bonds... he wasn't enough of a financial whiz to point out that at our tender age, bonds were not appropriate for an entire portfolio. And then there was our kids' inheritance from great uncle John. That went with a family member that was a broker with a small security outfit in Spokane. We did get a bond for each kid, which was good. But the investments in stocks went belly up -- some sort of a race track deal, if I recall. Our other money with this fellow went into the stock in a new company making a game -- the next Monopoly or Scrabble we were told. We never heard of "penny stocks" before that little adventure. The good news is that one of the kids used his bond money to get out of a little trouble and to buy a lousy car... it did last long enough to get him home from the other side of the country, though he stumbled into the driveway with just 2 cylinders working and the whole vehicle R-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-ing like a lawnmower! The other kid has forgotten all about it and doesn't know what happened to his $$. We put it into an IRA with a no-load company for him and we get the statements and don't tell him anything. That's probably illegal, but maybe we'll tell him when he turns 30. Or 35. (Don't turn us in!!)


    After the MONY guy I got furious and decided these characters weren't any smarter than I was, so took a yellow tablet and pencil and headed out for hours and hours and hours in the library. And we're still working at it... learning a little more each day.


    I sure feel for those guys with Madoff.... spreading your investments out does prevent the annihilation of your portfolio, though, which everyone should know...





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