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Posts posted by krow36

  1. Your comment about starting next week made me wonder if you realized that setting up an Aspire account is an online exercise and does not involve a conversation with Aspire? Their FAQ will answer most questions you might have. You can find the Application form and Contract at https://www.aspireonline.com/docs/default-source/form-library/403(b)(7)-application-and-agreement.pdf?sfvrsn=44

    Be sure to choose the “self-direct” option and avoid the 0.6% fee of an advisor. You can choose any of the mutual funds on Vanguard’s list, but all you need is a Target Retirement fund, or the 3 basic total market funds (Total Stock Mkt Index, Total Int’l Stock Mkt Index and Total Bond Mkt Index).  https://www.aspireonline.com/plan-types/403(b)-plan/fund-search If you go with the 3 Fund Portfolio, ask here on the forum if you want to discuss the relative percentages.

  2. Your district should have a list of 457 vendors that you can use. Check and see if the NY state 457 plan is on the list. If it is, check the internet for the application form. If it is not on the district's list, it should be. Try calling the state plan and ask them to help getting the plan set up for your district.   https://www.nysdcp.com/iApp/tcm/nysdcp/support/index.jsp

    I would establish the Aspire 403b plan and then transfer your Ameriprise balance to it. In the meantime, I would establish the NY state 457 plan, contribute, and max it if possible. Then if you can, go ahead and contribute to the 403b plan. 

  3. Welcome to the forum, Billy!  I agree with Ed and Tony! Aspire is an excellent vendor for you and a good place to move your Ameriprise 403b balance. The NY state 457 plan is very low-cost (lower than Aspire) and a good place to put your further contributions. 

  4. This Boglehead Wiki page discusses ways of thinking about your portfolio’s percentage of bonds, and lots of other related topics.


    Ed is convinced that he can weather any stock downturn without giving in and selling (low). And he probably can. He’s an unusually rational guy, and has admitted that he may have some Asperger’s qualities to his personality. That can be a great asset.

    Most advisors, professional as well as amateurs like us here, recommend SOME percentage of bonds in one’s portfolio. As mentioned in the BH philosophy, there are many factors that might justify an ability for a higher percentage of stocks. A couple might have 1 or 2 pensions, might both have social security, might expect an inheritance, . . . . .

    There may not be a need to take more risk with more stock. And the emotional stress that results when there’s a big market drop may mean that there is no desire to experience a portfolio drop of say 50%.

    For a couple with 20 years until expected retirement, I think your asset allocation of 75/25 is very reasonable. In 10 years you might pull back to 60/40?  There are no hard and fast rules for this stuff!? If you are two teachers with good pensions, you have a lot of options, including possibly early retirement. 


  5. FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has issued a warning on equity index annuities, which I think is what you are being offered. They are very complicated, and hard to understand. They pay a very high commission to the insurance reps that sell them. They are misleading in claiming to protect against a stock market downturn. They do not provide the full upside of the market. These annuities have the worst reputation on 403bwise of all the various types of annuities. Please stay with the investments you are using (403b, Roth IRA, CDs). Hopefully the 403b is a custodial account and not an annuity. I agree with Tony—don’t combine your investments and insurance products.


  6. I would stick with these Fidelity Index Funds if you want to go the 2 or 3 fund portfolio route:

    Fidelity® Total Market Index Fund, FSKAX, ER 0.015%

    Fidelity® International Index Fund, FSPSX, ER 0.035%

    Fidelity® U.S. Bond Index Fund, FXNAX, ER 0.025%

    If you want to go the target retirement fund route, I would choose one of the Freedom Index funds:

    Fidelity Freedom Index Funds, ER 0.12%


  7. Another frustration I have with the FB Group is the lack of "memory". It's tedious for new members to find information because it's quickly buried. The Group is great for short posts, but for something a bit more complex, it's inefficient because it's soon gone for all practical purposes. Oh well, I guess the goal is to attract teachers and help them with their retirement accounts. The Group does that well. I hope the forum doesn't disappear and that it can somehow become integrated with the Group.

  8. Blosky2001, I agree with you that this forum is easier to navigate than the FB Group. It's easier to reference past threads here, it's easier to search topics here, it's easier to avoid high-jacked threads here, etc.

    I agree with Steve that there's no denying that the FB Group has attracted LOTS of new teachers to the 403bwise message. So it is more effective. That's why I'm participating in both the group and the forum. The forum does get mentioned from time to time, but that doesn't seem to have much effect.

  9. LaurieL welcome to the forum!  Without a doubt, Fidelity Retirement Services is the best and lowest cost vendor. I think that maxing out your retirement accounts, even at age 64 makes sense. Hopefully your 84 year-old self will be grateful. I admit that the times are scary and the markets are and will continue to be volatile. I wouldn't have an asset allocation of more than 60/40 stocks/bonds, maybe 50/50, depending on your expected income in retirement. A 3 fund portfolio makes sense to me: Total (US) Stock Market, Total Int'l Stock Market and Total Bond Market. Some omit International stocks, it's a personal decision.

  10. I think this is a well-written article. Thanks Tony! WA has also gone to a hybrid retirement plan for all state employees including teachers. I think it makes sense, but it certainly puts the onus on state employees to learn about investing! My older plan has had a COL adjustment occasionally, over the years, but I think the current planned small COL will be cancelled. State budgets are in big trouble. We're OK with a combination of modest pensions, modest SS, RMDs and some taxable account dividends. 

  11. I agree with MNGopher that starting to contribute to your new Vanguard 403b account is the first step. I think I would go ahead start the transfer process. Yes it's a gamble but you can expect the market to do lots of ups and downs in the next few months, maybe years. Maybe I'm an optimist but I think that in a few weeks or month, when your AXA account is turned into cash, the market will still be down, which is what you want. I expect the market to be down through 2020. Of course I could be all wet, but . . . . . . .

  12. We’ve been retired 28 years, mostly with an asset allocation of 40/60 with 5% bands before rebalancing. During the last year it’s crept up to about 44/56. As of tonight (Mar 12), it’s slid to 38/62. If it gets past 35/65, I plan to sell some bond funds and buy stock funds to rebalance. We are only pulling out about 2% which includes RMDs, so the downturn is not very threatening, so far anyway. Fingers crossed!!


    Yes, I think you should stop contributing to the National Life annuity. You should check out you district’s 403-b vendor list. And post it here. Contributing to a Roth IRA is always a good option. Do it directly with Vanguard or Fidelity. Hopefully one of them will be on the district’s 403b vendor list!

  14. Ohio3, welcome to the forum!  You should investigate TIAA. Although it’s an insurance company, their variable annuities can be fairly lower-cost. The management fee for the K-12 TIAA 403b is 0.0% to 1.0%, so you need to find out their fee for your college. For the K-12 plan, here is no mortality and expense fee, usually over 1%, and no surrender fee, which are standard variable annuity fees. Check out:

    Equity Index, ER 0.26%,

    TIAA-CREF International Equity Index Fund (TRIEX), ER 0.31%,

    TIAA-CREF Bond Index Fund (TBIRX), ER 0.37% (or TIAA Traditional Annuity, ER 0%). https://www.403bcompare.com/products/154#/investmentoptions

  15. It looks like that the rep only wants to sell you an annuity 403b plan. Whether AIG would allow him to use their Group Mutual Fund Product is another question. He didn't answer your question about the custodial account, did he. You might play with him and write again that you are only interested in an AIG custodial (non-annuity) 403b account?


  16. OK, good luck. I think you are doing great to max out your Roth IRA, and investigating the 403b and 457b plans. The more reading you can do on the huge advantage of low-cost investing over high fee products, the more determined you’ll be to fix your district’s vendor problem. Here’s some reading material:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/23/your-money/403-b-retirement-plans-fees-teachers.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0  This is #1 of a series.

    You will probably find that the district leadership does not understand the importance of low fees over time. You may have to convince them. You may find that you have colleagues that will join you in your campaign. The 403bwise FB Group has some excellent material designed to show the importance of low fees to colleagues. Be sure and look back and check out the material of Dan Otter, Christopher Nye, Anthony Isola and others. The Teach and Retire Rich podcasts are a great source of 403b and 457b info for teachers.  http://teachandretirerich.libsyn.com/page/1/size/25

  17. As for which of your vendors would be best if you HAD to choose one of them, there is one that you could check out. VALIC, now goes by AIG, can offer a custodial account they call their Group Mutual Fund Product (GMFP). It has an Admin/Wrap fee of 0.0% to 1%, determined for each district. You would have to contact the VALIC rep to find out if it’s available and if so, what is the district’s Wrap fee. Even if it is 1%, you could choose 1 or more of their 3 low-cost Vanguard funds, and be much better off than with a VALIC annuity. There’s no surrender fee with the GMFP. I don’t know if they offer it in their 457b or not. The rep would much rather sell you one of their annuities because they get a much bigger commission with them. So you might have some persuading to do? Don’t sign anything until you discussed it here and in the FB Group.


    If you succeed in getting one of the low-cost 3 vendors in the future, you can then transfer your VALIC balance to them.

  18. Your district may use a Third Party Administrator (TPA) to help administer their 403b and 457b plans. The TPA may be able to tell you if they think you can add a vendor. The TPA administers the vendor list, but it’s up to the district whether another vendor gets added. A number of posters in the 403bwise FB Group have succeeded in adding either Vanguard, Fidelity or Aspire, any of which would be a huge improvement over your current vendors. The FB Group includes Scott Dauenhauer, a CPF, Anthony Isola, CFP, both professionals donating their time and expertise to help teachers get low-cost vendors. They are leaders in a national effort to reform the K-12 403b scene. Plus there are lots of posters in the Group that will offer their experience. You can learn a lot about what you are dealing with by reading older threads on this forum and on the FB Group website.

  19. Yes, the link now works.

    It looks like all your district’s vendors sell only annuity based 403b and 457b plans?? At least the district summary does not indicate that a custodial account plan is available. It’s often possible to get school districts to add a low-cost custodial account vendor. It can take some effort, but it would be a huge improvement for all the district employees. There is a Facebook 403bwise Group that has been effective in helping teachers add low-cost vendors and I suggest you join. https://board.403bwise.com/topic/7404-please-join-and-post-on-our-facebook-group/

    You can look up your vendors on 403bcompare. The website is run by the CA pension system and all vendors are required to post their fees and funds. Vendors plans are offered nationwide. https://www.403bcompare.com/Vendors/Browse

    For example: Great American annuities sold in CA, probably also in GA:


    You do NOT want an equity indexed annuity! It is the worst kind of annuity in my opinion.

    Here’s a NY Times article discussing the equity index 403b plans sold to teachers by National Life Group: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/your-money/403b-teachers-annuities.html

    403bwise’s Scott and Dan discuss equity index annuities in this Motley Fool interview.


    A variable annuity is probably a better choice than a fixed annuity, but both are very poor compared to a custodial account. They allow you to use mutual funds although the expense ratios can be high. VA’s have a high fee usually called a mortality and expense (M&E) fee of up to about 1.3%. They also have surrender fees of up to 10% that last up to 10 years, sometimes declining.

    A fixed annuity usually has a guaranteed interest rate (often 1%) with a current rate that is reset every year. Current rates seem to be maybe 2% these days? Although there is no M&E fee, the return on these annuities is too low and doesn’t allow participation in the stock market.

    Are you contributing to a taxable account for retirement at a low-cost vendor such as Vanguard or Fidelity? Don’t discount the value of total market index funds in a taxable account!

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