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Everything posted by JudyS

  1. Steve -- Enjoyed your paper comparing 20th century to 21st century investing. Very nice. Having a copy of that in hand will be helpful in a number of situations! JudyS
  2. Oh, Steve! Read Swensen's book! I can almost promise that during the time you are reading it, you will go to sleep each night with a smile on your face! I certainly did. It's a class act all the way... JudyS
  3. realgoldn -- Sorry -- the post that gave the two books to read somehow didn't make it to the forum. A perfectly wonderful, understandable and failure free tome is John Bogle's THE LITTLE BOOK OF COMMON SENSE INVESTING. Then another easy to read number is Schultheis' THE COFFEEHOUSE INVESTOR. If you weren't satiated by then, you could try a real favorite, which rips the investment industry, by a real titan in the field, Swensen, David. His book is UNCONVENTIONAL SUCCESS, A FUNDAMENTAL APPROACH TO PERSONAL INVESTMENT. After reading those, you might want to walk the dog or play golf or something else that you could enjoy........ Like live your life. JudyS
  4. Realgoldn -- Do NOT go through AIG. It will take a while to figure out that giong in that direction has lost you a bunch of $$, but you will figure that out. You sound like a smart enough guy. Just read the two books that were recommended, which you can buy much more cheaply than paying the salesman's commissions. You can do this. It isn't rocket science. Honest. JudyS
  5. And after you read the Coffehouse Investor, the next best thing will be Bogle, John The Little Book of Commonsense Investing. Read these two books, figure out what you want for funds (people here will be glad to give their ideas about that), then relax. You don't have to kill yourself with constant educational endeavors (forfeiting the rest of your life) and you don't have to give YOUR $$$ to a salesman (who dresses in an "advisor's" suit)! You have found a good place to learn! JudyS
  6. Fellow Travelers: It took them long enough, but here's a new product by Valuebuilder, a self directed option. See it at: http://nea.securitybenefit.com/neavaluebui...elfdirected.htm A call and perusal of the site reveals a $30 charge for a plan prospectus, $20 yearly administrative fee for smaller accounts, and some lack of clarity (to me, anyway) about the monetary aspect of the relationship between Security Benefit and NEAMB. According to the person who answered my call at the 1-800 number, the funds are institutional level offerings. What do you all think? JudyS
  7. Admin -- This sounds interesting, but I am just a tad suspicious about the expenses. In 401(k)s, expenses can be extremely difficult to locate, and there are a ZILLION places to hide them. I grew more wary with each new benefit described. Did you get who exactly designed and implemented this? There had to be intermediaries. JudyS
  8. Excellent article, Tony! This is totally in concert with Bogle's view. JudyS
  9. Scotty -- I missed something. What is "LOC" and "IBC"? It's a brilliant move, tho, to name all the pigs at the trough. That makes things perfectly clear. The poor participant will be lucky to keep what he puts in. Even worse, what will be advertised is the return on the underlying mutual fund, and I'll betcha that the fees for the pigs will never be mentioned. The participant will be scratching his head, wondering what's wrong with his math! JudyS
  10. Joel, Joel, Joel, The idea of opting into the 457 plan is a great one, especially in a state like Minnesota. One wrinkle, tho. Some of us oldsters are frantically putting $$ into deferred plans, and it's a great benefit to be able to use the 403b AND the 457; a participant can DOUBLE their savings that way. So having only a 457 available will be a problem for a few of us.... Better than a bad plan, no doubt, but having 2 options is optimal. Freedom is a wonderful thing, just like GWB says!! JudyS
  11. Joel -- I agree that your notion is a fine one. Now if we can just find school board folks and union folks who have a CLUE, we could proceed. But as they say, "Good luck with that!" I don't recall. What states have done this? New Jersey? Wisconsin? Do you have anything like a written description of such a program? If you do, could you please tell me, because I would be happy to forward it to some folks who could use it. Thanks! JudyS
  12. Dan -- You asked whether the recent Supreme Court ruling would have an impact in the 403(b) market. Although the ruling may not DIRECTLY translate from 401(k)s to 403(b)s, I believe the effect will be felt because it will scare the SD folks who have responsibility for 403(b) plans. We already have had hold-harmless agreements because of the scare tactics from certain companies that frightened SD folks. Fear is so persuasive in terms of behavior change. For instance, anyone who wants a good plan can work and work and work and still come up with a plan that has some unknown, unnoticed loophole somewhere that will cause trouble. There's no assurance that good intentions and hard work will be rewarded. To avoid the chance of trouble (lawsuit, complaints, union problems, etc.), which most of us would want to do, the most sensible (and easiest) way out would be to not offer a plan at all. Knowing that individual participants in 401(k) plans can sue, which I happen to believe is the right thing, offers just another threat. Part of the changes in the 403(b) regulations seem to be leaning in the direction of more clearly emphasizing the SD's fiduciary responsibilities. Unfortunately, I have NEVER found a payroll person (most likely to be in charge around here) or a business office director (in charge of the payroll person) who had a single, simple clue about the issues we on this board all care so passionately about. Not one. And I have met a few because I keep changing jobs! Already a business director froma large, neighboring district has told me that the new IRS changes are ridiculous and "We need to get out of this 403(b) business. It's not what we're about." So we're back to that good idea that Steve recently brought up -- a universally available opportunity to individually engage in retirement savings, pretax. JudyS
  13. Joel -- Thanks for your feedback. I know that the salesmen understand that they work for commission, but I don't think (I really don't) that they understand the bigger picture. If you read the Bloomberg article about my husband's 401(k) you will see that those plans are often at least as worrisome as 403(b)s. When my husband was FIRST in the plan he asked question after question after question of the sales staff. The guy -- who runs his own company -- really didn't know what the internal expenses were or that they participants weren't getting the full return for the mutual funds because of hidden funds. He was curious, upset, frustrated, and annoyed but kept coming back with more answers, finally admitting to my husband that he had learned a lot because of the questions. This went on for years. I can only imagine how he feels now, with his feet to the proverbial fire in writing and in public. But had they known and had they been truthful, no one would have to go public. Another story. A math teacher acquaintance, a very bright and personable guy, decided that he wasn't making enough $$ as a teacher so went to work for one of those chains of small but ubiquitous one-man financial operations (with the green signs, I think). After a year, he figured he could make more $$ but would never see his family, so he came back to teaching. He had a room next to my office and we talked a couple of times about 403(b) plans and which ones to use. That summer he called me at home and asked for the names of those firms again -- because he really didn't KNOW that there were no-load firms and that he would be able to keep more of his $$, but he thought again about our talk. He's a mathematician, a fine one, and far brighter than I, even on a good day. He DID NOT KNOW the conceptual information. So yes, the salesmen understand commissions. Do they know how much that affects the returns of their customers? Do they understand administrative pass-throughs, brokerage fees, revenue sharing, the functions of 12b-1 fees, and all the other costs, expenses, fees, charges, kick backs, and so on? I would be surprised. But maybe.... JudyS
  14. All -- Lucky me, I had American Express and then got smart and moved to (do not laugh!) VALUEBUILDER!! I began to get suspicious when the sales manager (who had a rookie with him that he was training in sales techniques) told me that I would be "able to have" a wrap fee, just like the sort of thing that's usually done "for" wealthy clients (I can hear you all laughing!!). I knew I was being snookered then. But here's the problem. The salespeople, those guys at the bottom of the totem pole who deal with you and me DO NOT KNOW about the hidden fees, the advantages of no-load funds, and the problems actually caused by high internal expenses. They don't. I'm absolutely positive. They just know what they've been taught by the company, including the canned comebacks to questions about these issues. When you think about it, the understanding of those issues has to be far higher in the companies. They really wouldn't tell the sales staff about these issues -- and these guys aren't economists, for crying out loud. If they TOLD the salespeople, then the saleman would have to look you in the eye and lie, and most of them are decent folks who wouldn't do that. They just lack the knowledge. The turkeys up the totem pole, however, surely understand. JudyS
  15. Dear fellow Travellers.... Just one more issue, not addressed by either the article or your responses. Many, many, many 401(k)s have very, very high expenses and the transparency in many of those cases ranges from POOR to NONE. The article presumed a return of 8%. While the underlying mutual fund might be ahead 8%, there are costs within the plan to pay that can erode as much as 3-1/2 percent. Maybe more, in some cases. So you could end up with YOUR returns being far more modest than the 8%. In some ways we have been extremely fortunate in 403(b)-land. Altho we didn't have "matches" from the employers in many cases, the expenses have most of the time been right out there for everyone to see. Particularly in no-load or lo-load fund families like TRPrice, Vanguard, Fidelity, etc. IMHO, one of the BEST places to invest has been buying stock in the companies that SELL these products. Franklin Resources (BEN), and TRPrice have given excellent returns, among others. I guess this falls in the "there's more than one way to skin a cat" category, huh? JudyS
  16. AP1 -- Here's an idea that may work... you know how when you're tired and cranky and you get home and your front door is locked and you forgot your key and the dog is making a racket waking up all the neighbors, then you remember to try the BACK door and bingo! you're in? Well, in your situation, the back door may work. It has for me. Call your friendly Vanguard 403b rep and tell HIM (or her) you want to move your $$$ from XYZ to Vanguard. Chances are decent that they will tell you to download a form, submit it, and THEY will go get the $$$ from XYZ. Easy. If it doesn't work, ask to speak to ANOTHER rep. ALways worth a try. Good luck. JudyS
  17. Ricky.bobby -- You said: You can't guarantee future performance, you can't guarantee a return on someone's money in a mutual fund. An annuity can guarantee a fixed rate of return. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm........ perhaps I have misunderstood. I THOUGHT the annuity's guarntee of a fixed rate of return applied to the PAYOUT period, not the ACCUMULATION period. If I am wrong, please help me understand. Perhaps I have misoverestimated my own brainpower. JudyS
  18. All -- There is an expansion of the article you all have read (the newspaper piece) in March Bloomberg Markets Magazine, beginning on page 96. We just bought all the copies in the Silverdale, WA Barnes and Noble, so don't go there looking for one. More is said by Hutcheson in that article, and other people were interviewed about OTHER plans as well, including International Paper and Ford. There is a little more about the NEA case as well, and several financial experts made public supportive comments. I really can't answer questions about Hutcheson's access to info, as I don't have direct, personal information about that myself. Additionally, I don't feel comfortable adding information that wasn't in the article, especially because it may include suppositions on my part. Given that John Hancock is objecting, I'm sure you will understand. Suffice it to say, I am confident in Hutcheson and his work. Jerry (my better 1/2) and I are confident that my dad, who always fussed and fumed about wasted $$, is smiling down on us -- and all the folks on this board who engage in the "good fight". We'll prevail! I'm just hoping to live long enough to see it!! For those of you who wonder whether going public with your concerns is worthwhile, the reason my husband ended up in this situation followed rather directly from a short article I wrote about Valuebuilder for this very forum about 2 years ago. Dan was kind enough to publish it here. Who knew? JudyS
  19. Joe, Tony, and others, There will be a longer article in Bloomberg's Market Magazine, as expansion of what you read, I believe. I think it will be in the March issue. Keep your fingers crossed. Will post it on this forum when I know for sure. And there MAY even be an exciting (well, for those of us who get all heated up about these issues) sequel! JudyS
  20. Steve, Intruder, and Tony -- Tony: Dan? To whom are you referring? There was a small mention of Daniels-Hall and the NEA suit. Intruder: Nice catch on how the math didn't work. However, the 401(k) is only part of our portfolio, and Jerry was referring to the entirety. Steve: Thanks and thanks. Please note that an EXPANDED article will be in Bloomberg Magazine, I believe. March, I think. Even more ammunition for your committees. The house is not quite in the woods, but that s###### makes it look like it. And Jerry has periods of time when he's not quite so grumpy. From our small perspective, real heroes in this piece are Matsumoto and Hutcheson -- they've worked hard on this and stuck their necks out. BTW, all of us poor workin' stiffs out here appreciate your work, you guys! JudyS
  21. FT6 -- The issue here is transparency. Of COURSE it's hardly worth participating with those fees, but who knew? My husband has been asking, requesting, insisting, and fighting about it for years, and until the independent fiduciary examined the plan for Bloomberg, no one KNEW. These fees are practically impossible to find. In the typical 403b with an insurance firm it would be equally difficult to discern all the fees, I believe. However, I also have come to believe that the salesmen that you and I (the poor working stiffs) deal with don't know EITHER. Why? They only know what they've been taught. By whom? The company they work for. And the companies they work for have no incentive at all to come clean with the low guys on the totem poles -- the salespeople. Why should they? Not that I'm a conspiracy theorist or anything ! JudyS
  22. Tony -- Sad? More like mad, probably. There's nothing like fury to give one impetus.... Here on this website, we're all more or less "missionaries" for no-load funds, so it was a gift to be given this opportunity to speak out. JudyS
  23. APTeacher -- Public school employees' salaries in WA are a matter of public record; I'm not positive a SPECIFIC teacher's ENTIRE salary is locatable, but there certainly is an easily accessible salary schedule that applies to the state and/ or district. As I recall, back in the good old days, when I worked with "agents" or "advisors", I was told "Oh, you don't have to pay me! The mutual fund company does that... I don't cost you anything!" Was I naive to believe that ? They seems SO SINCERE! JudyS
  24. Hi, Thought y'all might be interested in this article featuring my better 1/2 ... find it at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...&refer=home Judy@
  25. Celia -- Here in WA (in the districts in which I have worked, anyway) medical, dental and sometimes vision are mandantory for teachers unless you opt out because of a spouse's plans or something. Cafeteria plans are offered for medical reimbursement, dependent care and so on. All these benefits tend to be negotiated between the bargaining unit and the district. JudyS
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