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  1. Hello everybody, Sorry I've been away. I'm by no means an expert on how Massachusetts does things but, I have figured some stuff out through asking questions and experience. I believe to be compliant with 403b laws, school districts/towns are required to have an "expert" on all things retirement benefits. I've been in a small district where they were decidedly non compliant as their person who dealt with these things was far from knowledgable (Paige, it sounds like that may be the case in your district). Other, often times large districts, will hire an outside company to deal with these matters. I've have to deal with TSA Consulting Group with a few of the larger districts. They often take over all responsibilities for the towns/cities. The good news is that TSA Consulting is all over the country. If a district works with TSA you can easily figure out what options are available by looking on their website. I imagine many people outside this discussion would be interested in this. I'll join the FB group and post it there as well https://www.tsacg.com/individual/plan-sponsor/ Like I said, Chicopee isn't on there. Sorry, Paige. But all is not lost. I did some searching around the interwebs and I found the form that Chicopee uses for payroll deductions. Its a bit dated but school systems aren't known for keeping these things up to date. Looks like you do have options, but none of them are Fidelity or Vanguard: But there is a ray of hope in this otherwise dreary info dump. I believe the state 457 plan is available to all. I spoke with one of their representatives a few years back and did a little bit of investigating myself and here's what I remember. The state plan has 2-3 different options depending on how much assistance you would like with your plan. You can go it alone or pay different fees depending on how much help you want. They do offer some low fee index funds in the mix. The representatives are hired by the Mass Treasury Dept. and as such don't work for commission. They won't try to over sell you more than you need and have your best interest in mind. Given your options with Chicopee, I would recommend going the 457 route. Below you will find a site map with the various district representatives. Chicopee is on there. Best of Luck! Keep us informed.
  2. Welcome Paige! I too am a teacher in Massachusetts. I came here a couple of years ago to educate myself on the murky world of 403(b)s. The forum definitely helps. I recommend using it to your advantage. I've come back because I recently took a new position and could use a refresher. I would definitely call the HR office and figure what your options are for plans. If your options aren't that great, I would recommend the 457 state plan. When I last researched it, I remember it offering some decent mutual funds. The only reason I didn't go with it was because I had Fidelity as an option. Best of Luck! Keep us updated. We all learn from this experience.
  3. Another difference to consider between a 403b and a 457 (At least in my state not sure about yours) You can take money out as a loan with the 403b but you can't with a 457. Just another trinket to consider,
  4. Hello Brain Trust, Just a little update and encouragement. I've been trying to roll over my AXA 403b for the last couple of weeks and been going back forth with the rep about options. It comes down to this. To get my money out now it'll be a 2% charge because I'm still in year 10. In Nov 2017 (year 11) It'll be a 1% charge. And in Nov 2018 it'll be free to withdraw. But the sooner I can get out of this, the better. Here is the email I wrote him on Friday: OK Adam, There are certain things I know about business and certain things I do not. What I do know is that, if you travel far enough up the ladder, you'll find someone with enough authority to waive fees. I wish you were that person, because you've been pretty helpful so far but you are not. I do imagine that you could find the person who does have that ability, though. I'm going to ask that you find that person and waive the fee so I can get out of this horrible annuities contract. That $600-$700 hundred surrender fee means a lot to someone like me who works long and hard for little pay, but for AXA it is just a drop in the bucket compared to the millions in AUM of the company. But I do want to highlight what your company does stand to lose by not waiving that fee. Both faculty and administration have become interested in the research I've been doing with 403 b's the last month. It turns out roughly 74 other employees all have AXA 403 b's. Being a union rep for my building, I meet once a month with union leaders to discuss matters that are important to us. I am scheduled to give a presentation next week to my fellow executive board members. What I plan to do is present all the options we have available including low fee company's like Fidelity and Vanguard as well as the 457 SMART Plan from the state. High fees and how it affects bottom dollar cost over time will definitely be a topic of conversation. This is going to happen Monday after school no matter what. However, if I can surrender my AXA 403b without paying the fees now and not in 2018, I will leave it at that. But if not, (And I hate saying this because you seem like a decent guy, but the fact is, you work for a horrible company) I'm going to get the names of every employee that has an AXA account and personally give them the run-down of whats going on. I'm going to encourage/help each and everyone one of them get out of their EQUI-VEST annuity. Word travels fast in the world of teachers. When Joe Ferrara left AXA, I know he took a bunch accounts with him over to American Funds. I'm sure AXA will not be happy with losing most of the rest. I also know that our superintendent happens to have an AXA account. He too has heard about what I am doing and has asked me keep him appraised of the situation. Google his name if you think I am bluffing about his account. If I'm still in my annuity contract next month, I plan on having a sit down with him and recommending we stop allowing AXA to solicit in the Winthrop Public School Systems. I'm going to recommend that he stop subjecting his most vulnerable employees to the predatory practices and yellow note pads of your company. I truly am sorry because I think a lot/most of these accounts are yours and you've tried to help me. But, facts are facts, its a bad product for teacher's to be involved in. I hope we can find a solution that benefits both of us. 2% surrender fee on a small individual account seems like a small price to pay given what your company stands to lose. Good Luck. I got a reply email on Sat. Paraphrased synopsis: "Whoa Whoa. Let's not do anything too hasty. Give us time to figure this out"
  5. Tony & krow36, Thank you for all your help with this. Good news: I'm going to be presenting my findings and research to the school union. The superindendent of schools has even expressed interest in what I've been doing. Turns out, he too has an AXA 403 b. My next mission is to have part of the new teacher orientation involve some training/discussions about the pitfalls of insurance companies selling us high priced annuities, and spread the word to teachers already stuck in these sub-optimal plans. Out of 124 teachers enrolled in a 403b plan, 75 of them have AXA. Unfortunately, I only know the numbers and not the names of those enrolled with AXA. While I know generally what I want to say and present, I was hoping I could ask the discussion board for some suggested talking points they think might be useful. Thanks in advance.
  6. Haha. Thanks Tony. I'll add "must have a well defined pension plan" to my next social profile. I do have a Mass Teacher Retirement plan as well as my 403 b and my Roth IRA. Participation is mandatory for Mass Teacher's as we do not put into or receive Social Security benefits. Our Mass Teacher's retirement is a substitute for SS.
  7. Massachusetts State 457 plan: https://mass-smart.gwrs.com
  8. I was thinking 20% international. I do have a roth IRA, but my contributions to it have been sporadic at best. That is next on the to-do list once i get the 403b figured out. It is with American Funds. My brother-in-law help me set it up about 15 years ago back when i had no idea what i was doing but knew I wanted to start saving for retirement. I'm not sure what I am paying for fees with that. We do have a 457 plan, but I do not have a spouse. The index based funds in the 457 plan seem to have a low ER as well, but I haven't looked at it too much.
  9. Thanks, Krow36. I am currently 39 so I've got some time to work with before retirement but not like that of a 20 year old. I was invested during the 2008 downturn but honestly, I wasn't watching it all that much at the time. Did you mean 85/15 split seems aggressive. 85/25 would be 110%. I'm trying to figure out my AA at the moment. I do have some time so I don't mind being a little aggressive in my approach but I'm definitely not investing like a 20 year old. However, I would like to make up some the time/savings I have lost by being enrolled with AXA for the last 10 years. Maybe a 75/25 split?
  10. Thanks for clearing that up, Tony. Because the first one suggested had the word Total in the Title, I was looking for specifically for that in the Bond Market and International Market.
  11. krow36, not all the funds you listed are available. Here is a list of the index funds available with my schools Fidelity plan with their ER. Ideas of which ones I should focus on? Large Caps Fidelity® 500 Index Fund - Premium ClassFUSVX .045% Fidelity® Large Cap Core Enhanced Index Fund FLCEX .45% Fidelity® Large Cap Growth Enhanced Index Fund FLGEX .45% Fidelity® Large Cap Value Enhanced Index Fund FLVEX .45% Fidelity® Nasdaq® Composite Index Fund FNCMX .29% Fidelity® Total Market Index Fund - Premium Class FSTVX .045% Mid Cap Fidelity® Extended Market Index Fund - Premium Class FSEVX .07% Fidelity® Mid Cap Enhanced Index Fund FMEIX .6% Fidelity® Extended Market Index Fund - Premium Class FSEVX .07% Small Cap Fidelity® Small Cap Enhanced Index Fund FCPEX .68% Fidelity® Small Cap Index Fund - Premium Class FSSVX .07% International Fidelity® Emerging Markets Index Fund - Premium Class FPMAX .14% Fidelity® Global ex U.S. Index Fund - Premium Class FSGDX .11% Fidelity® International Enhanced Index FundFIENX .63% Fidelity® International Index Fund - Premium Class FSIVX .08% Specialty Fidelity® Real Estate Index Fund - Premium Class FSRVX .09% Fidelity® Four-in-One Index Fund FFNOX .11% Bonds Fidelity® Inflation-Protected Bond Index Fund - Premium Class FSIYX .09% Fidelity® Intermediate Treasury Bond Index Fund - Premium Class FIBAX .09% Fidelity® Long-Term Treasury Bond Index Fund - Premium Class FLBAX .09% Fidelity® Short-Term Treasury Bond Index Fund - Premium Class FSBAX .09% Fidelity® U.S. Bond Index Fund - Premium Class FSITX .05%
  12. Hello all, I've been reading this board for the last couple of weeks, trying to educate myself on the in's and out's of 403 b's. My story is unfortunately all too familiar. About 10 years ago I started teaching in a new district and got pulled in by the tendrils of the dreaded AXA representative into a high fee annuities plan. I've since then realized the error of my ways and am trying to rectify my mistakes and educate my colleagues on the dangers/pitfalls of most of the plans my district in Massachusetts offers. Here is the break down: American Funds AXA(EquitabIe) Fidelity Galic Great West Retirement Service (formerly ING) MetLife MFS Retirement Center SECI USCM (Nationwide) Unfortunately, 75% percent of the people in my district are using AXA. I'm hoping to change that. The sad part is, when I called our HR person and mentioned my concerns, she she asked who I was using. I told her AXA and her reply was "Oh..of course you want to switch" Grrrrrrrr. If they know its a horrible plan why are they using it? So I guess my request is two-fold. 1). From reading the discussions here, I see Fidelity is my best bet. I plan on calling the rep and setting up a new 403 b. But I want to be as informed as possible when I sit dow with the Fidelity rep and try to avoid my past mistakes. What funds specifically should I be investing in? Are there any questions or concerns I should bring up when I do this. I already spoke with my AXA rep and he knows my plan as well. He didn't seem surprised, and actually sounded like he was trying to help me. 2). Could anyone here offer some insight to the other plans I listed above. I'd like to highlight the pros's and con's of these as well when I speak to my colleagues. It would help too if I decided to bring this up with the powers that be and try and get some better options for my district. I've already learned quite a bit from stalking these discussions from the shadows, but now that I'm here, any and all information/advice you all gave would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks in advance
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