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  1. I am hoping to get more information later this week. Will keep you posted. Thanks.
  2. In Pennsylvania, Act 5 is changing the pension system for all new hires. It also mandates that districts must have a minimum of four vendors. My local union is meeting with our district next week to discuss the vendor selection process. Our district has been very supportive and open with our union in these matters. However, Act 5 is headed into uncharted territory for all parties. Any suggestions on how to proceed with this discussion?
  3. KM, congratulations on being a 25 year old, first year teacher and asking these questions. I would investigate starting with a Roth IRA in Vanguard. You can invest up to $5500 per year. Also, you can do this independent of your district and deal directly with Vanguard. You need $3000 for most of their Index Funds. However, their Target Date Funds can be started with only $1000. Here is the link to Vanguard's page on getting started: https://investor.vanguard.com/ira/how-to-open-an-ira The Vanguard 2050 Target Date Fund has an expense ratio of 0.16%. The $20 annual account fee is waived if: "you sign up for account access on vanguard.com and choose electronic delivery of statements, confirmations, and Vanguard fund reports and prospectuses." Not knowing all of your specific information it would be difficult to decide what is best for you. However, the fact that you are getting started at 25 leads me to believe that you will make an informed decision. I am curious, how did you know to ask these questions about fees and to "beware" of AXA? Most of the teachers in my building (young and old) are unaware of these issues.
  4. I teach in PA. My TPA is PenServ. I have had a very difficult time getting consistent, clear, and correct information from them (except for their main Relationship Manager - he is extremely knowledgeable and helpful), Has anyone else had issues with PenServ? What are some other TPA's that work with teachers and school districts? Are you happy with their service?
  5. Joe, first off, congratulations on accumulating over $14,000 in 4 years in your 403b. These 403b contributions, in conjunction with your Maryland state pension and Social Security, will provide you with three potential sources of retirement income. As far as your 403b portfolio . . . I could not find an exact match on 403bcompare.com. However, I am pretty sure there are other fees to this account. If your district plan is similar to mine, this 0.43 annual fee is just the first layer of "Administrative" fees. You may then paying Lincoln Financial Group somewhere in the range of 1% -1.25% (I was paying MetLife 1.15%) to "manage" your money. Finally, you are paying an expense ratio to each of the actual funds you invest in. Here are the possible expense ratios I found using 403bcompare.com, my own district's info, and looking at the fund's prospectus: · AM Fds EuroPacific Growth - Expense Ratio 0.49 - 1.14% · Vanguard 500 Index Admiral Shares - Expense Ratio 0.05 · Blackrock EQ Dividend I - Expense Ratio 0.99 - 1.44% · JPM Small Cap Equity - Expense Ratio 0.86 - 1.26% · Jhn Hnk Disciplined Val Mid Cap Fund R6 - Expense Ratio 0,77% · MFS International New Discovery R6 - Expense Ratio 0.96 - 1.37% · Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Expense Ratio 0.06% Admiral Class - 0.16% Investor Class (Side Rant: I was surprised to see the range in some of these funds expense ratios. I get that some of the funds have Class A, B, and C shares, but in some cases I think I was comparing B shares to B shares. The prospectus gives one number, 403bcompare.com gives another, and different vendors give different numbers. Does anyone know why? Are the Vendors "marking up" these funds? How can that be legal? After spending several hours looking for the "correct" information on fees, I am more confused and frustrated by the lack of transparency regarding this issue! I need some aspirin, a nap, and possible therapy.) Joe, I would not be surprised if your total fees are in the 1% - 2% range. I hope I am wrong, and that you really are only paying 0.43% in fees. If you are, this is one of the best plans out there.
  6. LibraryLady beware of AXA. From talking to teachers in my district, AXA may be worse than MetLife. If you are in the AXA Equivest Variable Annuity it has a 12 year surrender period. The only good news is it is not on a rolling basis.However, their fees (in my experience) are worse than MetLife. Look out for the several layers of fees. My friend was paying about 2.5% - 3.0% in total fees with AXA. Do you know if your money is in the Equivest program? Do you know what funds you are in?
  7. I feel your MetLife pain. It sounds like you may be talking about the MetLife Financial Freedom Select Plan. My surrender charges last a total of 12 years! Not a typo . . . 12 years! I have been moving 10% penalty free every March (my contract renewal date) for the last two years into Vanguard (now an approved vendor in my district). However, this April I plan to move the rest of my money over to Vanguard and take a 5% surrender change. My surrender charge is 5% because I am in my seventh year of my contract. Luckily, I have not contributed to this Financial Freedom Select Plan since I rolled my money over to it seven years ago. Still, I will be hit with over $3000 in a surrender charge! I am doing this because I currently pay 1.15% to MetLife for the privilege to have them invest my money. Then I pay an additional 1.03% for the T. Rowe Price Mid-Cap Portfolio and 0.75% for the T. Rowe Price Small Cap Portfolio. I hate the fees, but I hate the lack of transparency even more. If not for this site and the book, Teach and Retire Rich I would still be clueless. Better late than never.
  8. As I dig deeper into all of the paperwork and fine print of my district's plan, I become more frustrated (and confused). Is there a difference between a 403(b) plan and a 403(b)7 plan? I just read the Participant Fee and Annual Disclosure Statement for my district's 403(b)7 Mutual Fund Platform ("Plan"). I uncovered more Administrative Expenses. These fees are different than the "B7 Mutual Fund Product Fees" I found on our 2016 Universal Availability Notice. Do I pay both sets of fees? I plan on calling my district and our TPA.
  9. I emailed both my TPA and my district early last week to ask for our 403b enrollment statistics. Neither responded. This week I am going to call them. After talking to teachers in my building, I estimate that about 50% are enrolled in a 403b plan. However, it seems that only a handful invest directly with Vanguard (we can invest with Vanguard directly through our TPA). Also, most of the teachers I spoke with didn't know how or where their money was invested. And not one of them knew how much was paid in fees. I have used the 403b Compare site to show a few of the teachers how much fees are costing them. And to top it off, most have rolling surrender charges. Which if I understand correctly, severely hinders the process to move money out of these costly funds. Ouch!
  10. I just emailed our TPA (PenServ) to get my district's numbers. I teach in Pennsylvania. I am pretty sure we do not have a state sponsored plan. I'll keep you posted.
  11. Over the last year I have become more educated about my defined benefits plan and my 403b options (thanks in large part to the Teach and Retire Rich book/podcast and this forum). I have tried to spread the word to other teachers in my district with limited success. One of my ideas is to provide teachers with the statistics from our own district on how many people are enrolled in our various 403b options and then provide them with the fee structures. Some of us (myself included) have been paying companies like MetLife and AXA 1.15 - 2.5% in fees (plus the fund fees) when we could be investing in Vanguard directly. Can I just contact my district administration and get info on how many employees are enrolled in the various options? Is there some type of 403b statistical database/information available at the state or national level?
  12. I went to a retirement workshop this week sponsored by Lincoln Investment. One of their topics was Pension Max. They made it seem that for most teachers taking the Max and getting a term life policy is the best policy. In PA we have four options at retirement. Option 2 allows your spouse to receive your full monthly benefits after you die until his/her death. Option 2 has monthly payouts less than the Max Option (payouts are determined by age//etc.). Lincoln's "sell" was to take a portion of the difference and buy term life to protect your beneficiary. Since becoming 403b Wise about a year ago I was skeptical. I did some research and Pension Max has some doubters. Then I listened to this week's Teach and Retire Rich podcast on annuities and it briefly came up. Is this just another case of an "advisor" trying to sell their products?
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