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EdLaFave

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Everything posted by EdLaFave

  1. He is lying. An advisor only has a fiduciary responsibility to a client if they explicitly sign paperwork with the client and that paperwork explicitly defines exactly what it means to be a fiduciary. Still, even with a fiduciary, a client is still paying the salary of another person. That’s expensive, profit margins are already narrow, and anybody can handle an all-in-one fund on their own and most can handle a 3 fund portfolio.
  2. Vanguard is the way to go. I documented their plan here. You may or may not find the Investing 101 page I wrote helpful. One thing worth noting about the Vanguard 403b is that they charge a flat $60/year fee. So if you and your spouse are investing less than or equal to $12,000/year then you’ll be slightly better off using Vanguard IRAs instead of the 403b. On the other hand if you’re already maxing your IRAs then the 403b is an excellent option.
  3. ...you’re playing illogical mental account games by thinking you can treat one pot of money differently from another pot in terms of risk appetite. It is a dangerous game that lots of people play and it doesn’t make mathematical or logical sense. Yes, in my view it is “worth it” to buy the individual funds instead of an all-in-one fund. However, if you’re the type of person who won’t keep buying the under performing asset class or won’t/can’t take take the minimal time to understand what you’re supposed to do and then actually do it, then I’d strongly recommend and all-in-one fund to protect you from yourself.
  4. I think it is useful to address some deeper more fundamental questions than just the ones you asked. If the vendor is charging 0.5% on top of whatever they’re charging for the funds, this isn’t a very good plan. So it would be in your best interest to identify every 403b and 457b vendor your district has approved. Some states have state sponsored 457b plans that are relatively good and sometimes great. Come back and post your options and I can give some further guidance. I think you’d benefit from reading the Investing 101 page because it hits on several of the topics you’re asking about. With respect to which funds you should buy, you definitely want total market index funds because they’re really low cost and fully diversified (that’s how you pick a fund). The following three will give you a fully diversified portfolio: VTSAX, VTIAX, and VBTLX. However, you want your portfolio as a whole to meet your asset allocation, so which funds you should buy and in what percentage depends on what funds you own in your other accounts. It isn’t “correct” to say that having other retirement accounts means you can take on more risk in this account. Everybody has a specific amount of risk they’re comfortable with and their overall portfolio should always reflect that. If you decide to be “more risky” in this account it means one of two things: your other accounts were too safe to begin with or you’d be taking on too much risk. In my view you should recognize that stocks can lose approximately half of their value very quickly and take years (maybe even 10+ in a terrible scenario) to recover. However, stocks have a higher expected return in the long term. You want to own as much stock as you can such that when a crash does happen you keep buying stocks and you don’t do something foolish like sell. Having said that, only you know what that percentage is.
  5. 1. Definitely find and post every 403b and 457b vendor your district has approved. You may want to take a look at my page documenting the best vendors available throughout Florida (a good proxy for the nation). 2. You do not need to pay anybody for advice. The industry makes it complicated, we can cut through the nonsense and make it simple for you. You may want to read the Investing 101 page I’ve written. 3. Don’t feel shame, you may want to read a blog post I wrote that explains how you fell into something tailor made to trap you. 4. I already know everything I need to know about your current plan...I would get out as soon as I identified my best alternative.
  6. EdLaFave

    NYAdmin

    You can basically use any institution you want. I have an all Vanguard portfolio so I opened mine with Vanguard. I believe some institutions charge fees if you buy another institution’s funds through them (again, not something I’ve had to deal with). The bogleheads have documented how to build a three fund portfolio with funds from various institutions. So the reason it takes a few hours per year to manage is because you need to keep those funds in the right proportion to each other. When your portfolio is small this means putting new money into the funds that are “low” and when your portfolio is large it means occasionally selling what you have too much or to buy what you have too little of. If you wanted to literally do nothing then a target date fund or a fixed allocation fund like Vanguard’s life strategy fund will handle that for you. Please read my blog post on investing in a marriage that hopefully will last, but may not. I wrote that before I got divorced and I’m happy it is something we considered. To answer your question directly, owning a fund in multiple accounts is fine, owning a fund in a single account is fine. That isn’t what matters. Let’s assume you won’t get divorced. You and your husband should decide on an asset allocation that works best for you two. You should view your entire portfolio as the summation of each account and buy funds in each account based on how cheap it is. Suppose everything in your husband’s 401k is expensive except bonds, you’d want to keep your bonds there (as much as possible), which would mean your other accounts would have to be more stock heavy in order to reach your overall desired asset allocation. ...if your husband has a bunch of funds that either means he is betting on specific sectors/asset classes, which I wouldn’t do, or his account is needlessly complicated, which I also wouldn’t do. It isn’t a huge sin, but it is something to consider.
  7. I’ll add more later, but yes, Fidelity and Vanguard are clearly the best vendors.
  8. Any word on when and how I can watch it from home? Maybe Netflix?
  9. To answer your question, yes, this is legal. Your employer can select and/or replace whatever vendor they want for a 403b. The same way they can swap out your insurance company every year. It is an employer sponsored plan; they’re in control. I suppose it is conceivable that a state or local government might voluntarily put restrictions on exactly how and if this is done, but that’s an area I can’t speak to. Your post was very short on details... 100% vesting for what? Employer match to your 403b? Pension? What? What was the vesting schedule? What do you mean they “dropped” your 403b vendor? They stopped new participants from using it? They stopped existing participants from continuing to use it? They forced existing participants to roll the account over to another vendor? What? Your post gives the impression that you worked at this job for a long time after the 403b was “dropped”. So what was happening to the contributions you were presumably making? Did they just stop? Did you not notice? Did they get diverted to another 403b? What?
  10. I just wanted to bump this thread because I think I found an error in my initial analysis (see the strikethrough text). I welcome group wisdom to try to get to the bottom of this.
  11. Sorry to hear that. Let me make sure I understand. Your wife worked at District A and contributed to a 403b. She left District A for District B and rolled over the 403b to District B's 403b and now she is contributing new money to District B's 403b. Is that right? Let's start with new contributions made to District B's 403b...I'm 100% sure you're not going to be able to roll that over to an IRA until a qualifying event happens (probably quitting or being fired). The rolled over funds may be a bit more complicated. I'd be willing to bet that it will be treated no differently than the new contributions, but I don't know that for an absolute fact. My current 401k (very different from the 403b world) allows me to roll money into the 401k and then roll it back out whenever I want. I suppose it is conceivable that some 403bs may allow the same thing, but I'm skeptical. You'll have to reach out to the vendor and/or read all of the fine print to know for sure. It's too bad you missed the opportunity to rollover the 403b from District A to an IRA after quitting, that would have been allowable. Finally, do you have a better vendor available in District B? You can roll EVERYTHING over to the better vendor if one is available.
  12. There are actually two companies named Lincoln and one of them offers a Participant Directed Plan (PDP) in limited areas of the country. Search the forms to find out if it's Lincoln Investment that offers the PDP plan (I think it is) and figure out if you have access to it. This thread may be a good starting point, I'll leave the homework up to you. If not, then ASPire is the best option on the list. I documented their plan here. It isn't as good as Vanguard or Fidelity, but it is reasonable enough, definitely worth using. I was able to get Vanguard and Fidelity added to my district's list of approved vendors and I'm happy to help you do it. Somebody recently asked me for general advice on the Bogleheads site and this is what I had to say. Reach out to me if you need help or insight to get the job done. You can do it. The other thing to consider is that some states have state sponsored 457b plans (for example, NY has a pretty good one). It is possible that is the best option. Either way, you're in good shape with ASPire being the "floor" of your options.
  13. Is there a reason you're asking what district is the "gold standard" as opposed to what a "gold standard" would look like? I certainly haven't reviewed every district in the nation, so I can't award a "gold standard". However, I can tell you what I would do if I were given complete control over a district: I'd have exactly one vendor for the 403b and one vendor for the 457b...neither would have agents. That vendor would offered fixed allocation funds (Vanguard LifeStrategy), target date funds, total domestic stock fund, total international stock fund, and a total bond fund. That's it. Every employee would be automatically enrolled, they'd have a "reasonable" percentage of their salary allocated towards it, and they'd be invested in a target date fund based on their age. Every employee would be able to override this automatic enrollment. My Retirement Services department would offer information very similar to what I've posted on my Investing 101 page. That is the gold standard, but I'm not aware of any districts that have implemented it.
  14. EdLaFave

    NYAdmin

    ...also, if you have access to a 457b, then take advantage of that too. You can put 19k in a 403b and another 19k in a 457b.
  15. EdLaFave

    NYAdmin

    I'm not sure how to break the tie between Vanguard and Fidelity. I'll let you decide. Vanguard is documented here. Fidelity is documented here. There may be corner cases where that is sub-optimal, but generally that is the right decision because you have total control over an IRA, whereas a 403b is up to the whims of your employer. I don't understand the question. I assume you're asking what type of account you should move your 200k (from an old employer's 403b) to? I think you've already answered your own question. Vanguard or Fidelity, pick what feels good to you. It is very common to use the word "Roth" as if it fully describes an account. It does not. Tax advantaged accounts (401k, 403b, 457b, IRA, etc.) come in two variants: Roth and Traditional. Please ask questions if you don't understand that. I assume you're asking if half of your 403b contribution can be Traditional and half can be Roth...yes that is allowable. Is it advisable? Well, you haven't provided enough information to say...again ask questions if that's what you're getting at. IRAs have income contribution limits whereas other tax advantaged accounts (401k, 403b, 457b) do not. Some people make too much to directly contribute to a Roth IRA. However, Congress wrote the law in a fairly ridiculous way that allows those folks to contribute to a Roth IRA indirectly through something that has come to be known as a "backdoor Roth contribution". You haven't told us much about you, so I can't answer that really. I think you're going to want to read my Investing 101 page. Your main decision is to decide what percentage of your portfolio should be in bonds. I personally do that by recognizing that stocks can drop by 50% fairly quickly and take many years to recover...then I ask myself how much of my portfolio I can financially and emotionally afford to lose. If you would do something foolish like selling stocks during a crash if you lost 50% of your portfolio then guess what, you can't handle a 100% stock portfolio. If you can only handle losing 25% of your portfolio then you need a 50% stock and 50% bond portfolio. Once you know what stock/bond split is appropriate for you (something only you can answer, by the way). Then picking the funds is easy. If you want to save a little bit of cash in fees then you invest in what's known as the 3 Fund Portfolio...if you don't mind paying a little extra to not have to manage anything at all (3 fund portfolio takes hours per year to manage) then you can go with an all-in-one fund (fixed allocation or target date). In the Vanguard/Fidelity links I gave you, I point out the funds to use. In the Investing 101 link I gave you, I describe all of this in detail. Ask questions. ...all my comments are in regard to your entire portfolio as a whole. Each account does not have to be a stand-alone portfolio if you will. Ask questions. Very generally speaking, it doesn't matter what account type you have, my fund recommendations will be the same. However, bond funds in a taxable account can generate "large" tax bills (especially for somebody in a high tax bracket). I'd also like to put my highest performing assets in the account that is guaranteed to never be taxed (Roth accounts) so I'd avoid putting bonds in those accounts (Roth). So there are exceptions to the rules, but I can't give comprehensive input because you haven't laid out your entire financial situation. It seems like you've really grabbed onto the idea that some funds are "better" in one type of account than others, but as a general rule of thumb (with a few caveats) that isn't how this works. You build a fully diversified portfolio with rock bottom costs (in short that means, you buy total market index funds). Then you buy those funds in the accounts where they're the cheapest and/or most tax efficient. You view your portfolio as the summation of all of those accounts. Yes, you apparently will spend money on your kids college, but it doesn't come from a single fund...it comes from your portfolio as a whole. You may do some mental accounting to imagine it coming from a particular source, but that's essentially a fallacy (one lots and lots of people fall into).
  16. Based on OCPS (FL), which I think is the same everywhere: AXA is documented here. Vanguard is documented here. If your state doesn’t have a great 457b then you’re also going to want to add a vendor for that too. Fidelity is the best, they’re documented here. I’m happy to help you reform your district’s plans. I’ve successfully done it in my district. You can navigate to my blog to read some of posts about it. I also answered a question about this over on a bogleheads thread. Reach out if you want help.
  17. You’re going to want to define terms. What is a straight average fee? Why do I care what the average participant fee is? Based on your post, I can’t tell, with any confidence, what you’d be paying at both vendors. Lincoln offers a cheap PDP plan in select areas. It is a good idea to list all available vendors because we might know something that you don’t. have you considered a 457b? Some states sponsor good plans even if your vendor list is bad.
  18. You can absolutely eliminate a vendor from the approved list. It has happened in many places. I’m not sure exactly how it happens. Are people forced to rollover their plan to a currently approved vendor? Are they allowed to keep the account but no longer contribute to it? Are they allowed to keep and contribute to the account, but no new accounts can be opened? Maybe the specifics are negotiated on a case by case basis, maybe each vendor has a policy, or maybe the school district has a policy. Let us know what you find. Be prepared to counter the argument that removing a bad vendor will be disruptive to employees and is thus a “bad” thing to do.
  19. I also want to add one more thing. The best solutions are the ones that don’t require ongoing effort and resources to maintain and enforce. That’s why eliminating exploítative vendors and starting auto enrollment is an absolute winner. Set it and forget it, if you will.
  20. Let me go further than Tony has. There is no guess work here. We have the data. This is a proven winner. Google it and see or start with what Vanguard has to say on the issue: https://institutional.vanguard.com/iam/pdf/CIRAE.pdf
  21. I don’t think your hopeful suggestions are hopeful enough. I don’t believe in negotiating with myself. This is where I’d start: 1. Fidelity is the only approved vendor. 2. The Fidelity plan only offers target date index funds and the three fund portfolio. 3. Employees are automatically enrolled into a target date fund based on their age and they default a percentage of their pay into the plan. Then the negotiation moves from there. I certainly wouldn’t start by conceding the approval of exploítative plans in the hopes of stopping agents from being on campus.
  22. I totally understand the throwing up and collapsing aspect of the story. Put me under a bunch of pressure and conflict in an environment where neither fight or flight are legitimate options and my body wouldn’t be able to handle it. I agree with MNGopher, living on 17k/year per person is risky. Perhaps if they’re living in inexpensive places abroad then it is more reasonable? I also wouldn’t feel comfortable with the 3.5% withdrawal rate for a 50-70 year retirement. The Early Retirement Now “study” found that a 75% stock portfolio has a 7% chance of losing value over that period and a 3% chance of reaching $0. I feel much safer at a 3% withdrawal rate.
  23. I don’t have any personal experience with this. Intuit answered this question for a 401k, which I imagine is very similar to a 403b. https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/retirement/help/what-happens-if-i-have-a-401-k-loan-but-later-lose-or-quit-my-job/00/25699 If I were you I’d start googling, read the paperwork you presumably signed, and get a hold of the institution you took the loan from to get details on the exact terms.
  24. Sorry to read that. In another life I’m an uncompromising union boss that is entirely focused on teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions. I am 100% behind unions, but sometimes the things they focus on really upsets me.
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