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  1. Thanks for sharing your sincere thoughts and posting on these forums. What we need to do is educate our educators while they are in undergraduate school by teaching them to weigh the pros and cons of all benefit plans for the school districts they are applying to. I'm doing my part to help future K-12 teachers (I teach college including many future educators). I do my part to inform them of what they are about to face when applying for teaching jobs by spending some time in my classes talking about benefit plans, 403b/457b/defined benefit plans (most will be with IPERS here in Iowa for their pension). Luckily, our state has negotiated with Voya, VALIC, Mass Mutual, and Horace Mann to provide plans that include lower cost index funds so teachers/staff can use the voluntary 403b and or 457b plans to set aside pre-tax (or Roth 403b/457b) in low cost funds. Of course there is a wrap fee on top of the underlying funds which is .18% - .2%, but c'est la vie. I really wish Vanguard, Fidelity, or Blackrock would come into the school systems in the US and totally BLOW the competition out of the water. Unfortunately, it's probably too small of a niche market for any of them to do something good for our educators. So the insurance companies are happy to keep stepping in - after all, sales for them is what it is all about. Maybe there is a reason for educators to carry a gun at school. ;-)
  2. Yes, it is a 403b plan. I've got it now - or at least think I do. The institution calls the portion of the 403b where I contribute 2%, and the employer match of 5% the "defined contribution" portion of the TIAA 403b. The "optional SRA" is whatever else over and above that an employee wants to contribute until one hits the max - be it $18,500K for under age 50 or $24,500 for age 50+ for 2018. That total limit includes the 2% I contribute in the portion they label the "defined contribution". Unfortunately there is no other option for employees who would like to contribute beyond the 403b with an additional plan such as a 457b. I have to wonder that professors and staff who may be in a dual income household where they have no children, or are empty nesters in their final decade or so of working when income is high enough between the couple, and expenses low enough where they could utilize the opportunity to go to the IRS limits of the combined 403b and 457b to sock money away for retirement. It's obviously available at other institutions. I can't believe I would be the first to have asked my institution for an additional option, but do know I am only one of a small group that max out our 403b. So perhaps the lack of demand is the reasoning. Regardless, my wife heard back today from her employer that she is indeed eligible for her employer's 457b plan (it's through the state). So we could max out her 403b and 457b using the age 50+ catch up in both - along with my 403b doing the same age 50+ catch up all due to being empty nesters with low expenses. Having gone through the college years with our kids, which involved plenty of cash flow from us - it's a new position we find ourselves in, so never really bothered to check into our additional options at our employers before this year because of the reality of two college kids.
  3. Thanks for the links. My wife has a 401a mandatory pension plan she contributes 8.% and the employer match totals it up to 14.88%. She also maxes out the voluntary 403b, and it looks like she may have a voluntary 457 plan as well we could utilize. My plan is a 403b which I max out, but the 457b available for my institution at TIAA is closed (private) and only for those higher earners (cabinet members) who "toil and contribute to the institution" - which is about 7 or 8 cabinet members. So all I see listed for our plans is an optional SRA. It would be nice to have an additional salary reduction investment option, but I realize an employer is not required to offer one. Not sure how the SRA gets counted or if any contributions to it would also be part of my limits within a 403b. I should hear from HR/Payroll tomorrow if it is an option and answer some of my questions. If there is no option to use salary reduction outside of the 403b where I work, I will check with my wife's employer to see if she is eligible for their 457 plan. Two income household that find ourselves as empty nesters with the ability to play catch up with retirement contributions for the next 5-8 years.
  4. My place of employment's TIAA benefits plan states: A voluntary retirement plan is available after one year of employment to all employees over age 21 who work at least 1000 hours per year. Participating employees are required to contribute a minimum of 2% (up to a government-defined maximum) of their annual salary to the TIAA/CREF retirement plan to be eligible to receive the employer contribution of 5% of their annual salary. Optional Supplemental Retirement Annuity (SRA) in TIAA-CREF Mutual Funds and IRAs are also available. I am assuming that the limits for contributions - be they in the defined contribution plan to receive the employer match plus anything that would go into the optional supplemental retirement annuity cannot exceed 403b limits, correct? So the 2018 limits of $18,500 for under age 50, or $24,500 for age 50+ would be it - combined, yes? One couldn't put the maximum in the defined contribution plan, and then add more in the optional SRA. I'm pretty sure the answer is no, but thought I'd get clarification. The employer does have a 457b plan, but it is private and only for cabinet members (our highest paid employees). Just searching for ways to max out beyond the 403b and Roth IRA besides going to taxable investing. TIA
  5. Hard to pass up the free employer match (which makes up for the higher ER fees). I would suggest he at least contributes enough of an amount to get the full employer match, the rest he can put in a ROTH IRA.
  6. Welcome to 403b investing! Employees, employers, simply need to continue pounding the table, fighting, demonstrating, encouraging, yelling, bargaining for the wrap fees to lower as the industry wakes up and cuts fees. Vanguard, as we all know, has changed the industry. However, there is still room for continued change to get these wrap fees lowered (not to mention all the fund options in typical 403b and 401 programs to get their ER fees lowered!) Rant over. TIAA has a wrap fee of .17 for one of us, and the other spouse has a voluntary 403b VALIC account which her state has negotiated quite well to be .18. Would we prefer not to have to pay those wrap fees? Sure. But c'est la vie... The underlying funds in each - Vanguard - means the wrap fee bumps up the overall ER we are paying. Since it is all pre-tax deduction (and one includes an employer match), it beats some alternatives. That doesn't mean we are not going to continue to fight for lower fees. ;-} 403b of one Spouse TIAA plan which comes with their .17 ER wrap annual charge, plus the underlying funds ER expense as listed: Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral 40% (ER .05) Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund Admiral 15% (ER .09) Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral 15% (ER .12) Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral 30% (ER .06) 403b Voluntary Plan AIG/VALIC which includes an administrative wrap ER fee of .18 added to each fund as listed here: Vanguard Institutional Index Fund 40% (ER .22) Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral 20% (ER .30) Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral 40% (ER .25)
  7. 5.88% YTD 54.4% US Stocks 21.53% CASH 9.59% INT Stocks 7.94% Real Estate 5.85% US Bonds .38% Commodities .32% INT Bonds Bond allocation is low due to $275K sitting in two separate deferred fixed annuities (inherited) earning 3% that is not part of the calculations above.
  8. This says it all from the article: What about longer timeframes? Here’s the rub: many CEFs are too new for us to make the comparison. To do this, I’ve chosen CEFs that are as close to the Vanguard funds as I could. However, because CEFs tend to take advantage of unconventional and less understood asset classes, none of these are 100% comparable to the Vanguard mutual funds. Over time, reversion to the mean has a high probability of happening to 1 year CEF returns the author cherry picked for the article. It's way too easy to find things in retrospect to compare and say "See, look how this crushed the Vanguard Index Fund(s)", but there are many options in the investing world for one to meet their goals. Some more complex, some even more simple (a single company's stock - Apple, Berkshire, Amazon, Dominos, Facebook, Google, etc...), and on and on. Whether you use the 100 stock QQQ (which has a nice one year 23.37% gain with an ER of .2), or you pick something like the author did - you can always find various time frames of outperformance from investment instruments that are not 100% comparable to the Vanguard mutual funds. . Yet, the Vanguard Indexing is not trying to outperform the market. They are trying to match the benchmark index they represent. So the attack is a non-starter.
  9. How did the meeting go last Friday? I can vouch for what the experience is like talking to many colleagues where I work (our 403(b) plan is with TIAA) that they are completely oblivious to ER fees, and administrative fees. If I push the subject in casual conversation in an attempt to inform - all I get in return is a glazed over look after about 2 or 3 sentences out of my mouth. I would be curious to hear what transpired in your meeting, and what the overall responses were. My wife has a mandatory pension contribution (and match) at her employer, but also access to 4 Core 403(b) plans from Voya, MassMutual, VALIC, and Horace Mann if she would like to contribute more pre-tax income for tax deferred growth. The state has negotiated with each of those plans in an attempt to keep expenses down, but there are still fees attached. https://das.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/hr/ric/documents/prod_fees.pdf RIC core providers offer diversified investments, online account access, and retirement planning tools. RIC core providers have knowledgeable investment experts to help you (at no additional cost) evaluate the investment options and determine an investment mix best suited for your savings goals and tolerance for risk. There are no annual contract fees, M&E fees, or penalties for asset transfers between core providers or investments. Going beyond the bolded sentence, and the added .18 - .20 administrative fee on top of each mutual fund's ER - downloading the paperwork from each of the 4 funds, one finds various other fees from some of the plans in rather lengthy, poorly written prospectuses that are not easy reading - even for a focused reader in the right kind of light, with no distracting sounds, and a properly fresh brewed cup of coffee. Library Lady - your post is one that many of us can relate to. Let us know how the meeting went.
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