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EdLaFave

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Everything posted by EdLaFave

  1. I love to hate that quote! I guess us commoners will never appreciate the endless labor that goes into a single "Fund of Funds" or the "3 Fund Portfolio". Of course their definition of "better adviser" doesn't include the client's best interest. It matches my experience with AXA exactly! I wrote about my experiences with OCPS' bad vendors here (AXA included) https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/inferior-ocps-403b-457b-plans ...by far AXA was the most frustrating to talk to. When I first contacted AXA I told them all I wanted was information on fees and to understand the investments we'd be in. They gave me none of that in our first conversation. I spent 10 days fighting and clawing for that data. At least the other exploìtative vendors didn't so blatantly ignore direct questions. Oh, the pride I'd feel if my wife fired off that question. I love it, she did a great job! It is important to stick with what makes you comfortable, 100%. Personally I feel fine laying out facts, data, and logic to demonstrate why AXA, active management, etc are inferior to Vanguard, 3 Fund Portfolio, etc. I've got no problem sharing what vendors I think are the best and why I think that. I share what my wife and I have or would do and exactly how we'd do it. But I never tell people what to do, that is 100% up to them...I just share my understanding and experience with people and I always try to present myself as a fallible human being but one without a conflict of interest.
  2. I don't expect as many people to respond to simply being shown the problem and the general resources to look for a solution. I expect them to want an easy solution to be presented to them...and somebody to guide them through it. I think you'll get a better response if you identify the best plan and exactly how to enroll (down to how to fill out the forms and select the investments). At least that's what I've tried to do, who knows? ...still I'm surprised you got such a small response. Disappointing.
  3. I don't have an answer but at risk of repeating what you already know, this is where I'd start: 1. Figure out what tax bracket I'm currently in. 2. Estimate my spending needs in retirement. 3. Figure out what tax bracket the expected pension, expected social security, expected withdrawls from the traditional accounts, etc. will put me in during retirement. 4. Recognize there is uncertainty with the tax code in the future. I'd aim to have enough in the traditional so that in retirement I fill up the tax bracket I'm currently in. If I expect to hit that point then I'd put the rest in a Roth. For me personally, my gut (without precise calculations) suggests, with a fair amount of confidence, that I won't be in a higher tax bracket in retirement.
  4. What we need more than anything is to spread knowledge. It is tempting to hope for government/organizations to swoop in and fix things for everybody because it would be an instantaneous, universal, clean solution. But I just don't think that is realistic. I think we need a massive push from ordinary people, which is where the real power for change exists. As discouraging as it can be to see the Fiduciary rule being butchered, I think we're still winning. The decades of work Vanguard has put in has fundamentally changed the landscape and things are only accelerating. Teachers may be behind the curve and face bigger challenges because they don't have access to all vendors but education can change that too.
  5. They came from Bogle's book. Pretty sure it was https://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Common-Sense-Investing/dp/0470102101
  6. In 2005 John Bogle took a look back at the 355 mutual funds that existed in 1970 and I found the results to be both simple and compelling: 223 funds (62.8%) were closed before 2005. 60 funds (16.9%) lagged the market by 1% or more. 48 funds (13.5%) were within +/- 1% of the market. 15 funds (4.2%) beat the market by 1-2%. 9 funds (2.5%) beat the market by 2% or more.
  7. I'm not breaking new ground here but I wrote a quick blog to try to remind educators that advisers are legally allowed to (and regularly do) put their own interests ahead of educators'. https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/conflict-of-interest-adviser-vs-client
  8. In my personal experience with OCPS (FL): We never attached an agent to our Security Benefit's NEA DirectInvest 403b. The district pushed us very hard to get an agent's signature but the agent showed up and tried to enroll my wife in an entirely different program. You can see the steps we went through here: https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/set-up-your-ocps-403b-457b OCPS (FL) has us under the very strong impression that you cannot sign up with a vendor outside of the vendors that they selected. They've told us several false things so I have reason to doubt everything they say, but in this case I believe them.My initial feeling is that if a district isn't going to properly vet vendors to make sure they're operating in the employee's best interest (and they aren't) then it sure would be nice to fill out a form with any vendor and the district would be forced to accept.
  9. I'm starting to see a recurring argument where it is claimed that expensive sales reps increase participation rates in 403b and 457b plans. The argument goes on to claim that people participating in their 403b/457b who otherwise wouldn't have been are in better shape even when you account for the high fees. I have my own passionate response to this but I'd like to read others' thoughts. If anybody has links to any data that would support or refute this claim then I'd like to read up on it: Under what conditions are they claiming increased participation and to what degree? Has a sales rep laden system ever been compared against a school with a single low cost vendor offering target date funds who uses a Retirement Services department that actually reaches out to employees? If people aren't participating in their 403b/457b how do we know they're "blowing" the money? How do we know they aren't investing in real estate or a taxable, hsa, ira, 529, etc. plan? How is this claim accounting for the obvious harm being done to people who would have participated even if there were 0 sales reps?
  10. I've noticed a general pattern...whenever ordinary people fight for and sometimes even receive a fair shake, they're quickly called communists (a now meaningless 4 letter word) intent on destroying the fabric of capitalism (a now meaningless word that essentially replaces 'America'). I'm personally not worried about indexing destroying our ability to 'properly' value companies. I believe human greed, ingenuity, and arbitrage will quickly address that issue when and if it occurs...a balance will be found. Still, if there are legit problems with indexing these guys aren't doing themselves any favors because I (and I assume most people) stop listening the moment we're compared to Marxists.
  11. Thanks, I guess I'll give them a call to see if it is available here in Florida. Sounds unlikely.
  12. chaka_han it looks like you're right. From the boglehead thread krow linked to: MtDewAddict wrote: Krow36 wrote:
  13. I am very interested in hearing exactly how you signed up, links to read details about the plan, the available investment options, how you view/manage the account, fee breakdown, etc...basically all of the information somebody would need to evaluate the plan. Their website is abysmal and I cant find any concrete information. If this is a quality plan then I'd like to include it on my website to help people find it.
  14. I agree 100%. I see a moral dilemma associated with protecting the current tax code. I do not see a moral dilemma associated with adhering to the current tax code, especially because individuals acting on a volunteer basis won't affect measurable change. ...I'm interested in your advocacy efforts. I'm hoping to enter politics in roughly 3 years when I've reached financial independence.
  15. Sadly, I may find that in reality I'm a hypocrite but I believe my (future) kids should not receive special treatment because I'm wealthy. I'd love to pay higher taxes so every kid receives 'free' education and teachers receive larger salaries but until then my (future) kids will have to make due with the benefits of a stable household that stresses the importance of education. I don't fully understand all of the ins and outs of a 529 but I'm under the impression that the restrictions on the account can be less than ideal. What if your kid doesn't go to college? What if the 529 is over-funded? I'm under the possibly incorrect impression that in those cases you'd have been better off funding other accounts.
  16. For me personally: Contribute enough to my traditional 401k to get the match. If I had debt > 6% then I'd probably pay it off (rough # pulled out of the air). If I had a HDHP then I'd max out an HSA. Max out my wife's traditional 403b. Max out my traditional 401k. Max out my wife's traditional 457b when she gets a promotion. Max out our Roth IRAs (income limits prohibit traditional). I have this after the traditional accounts because my traditional 401k would generate lower tax bills relative to a Roth IRA. I'd hope that this more than compensates for the slightly higher fees I'll pay for the 5 (?) years the 401k is active. I'd be betting on the lower effective tax rate from traditional withdrawals filling up the lower tax brackets...as opposed to my current highest tax bracket that a Roth would be hit with. I'm fortunately not concerned with liquidity because my taxable account is substantial. If I had debt between 4-6% then I'd probably pay it off (rough # pulled out of the air). Contribute to taxable. I let any debt below 4% (like my mortgage) remain in the belief that my investments will outperform the interest rate. I'm philosophically opposed to saving for education so 529s aren't something I consider.
  17. Congrats, that is a huge accomplishment. Great job. My wife is maxing out her 403b. We will be targeting the 457b (PlanMember Direct) when she is eventually promoted. I wonder what percentage of educators are even contributing to their 403b (20 percent?) much less maxing it out (0-1 percent?). I've found that little psychological games keep our excitement level high during what can be a long slog: We make sure to celebrate every arbitrary, round number milestone (10k, 50k, 100k, 200k, 250k, 300k, 333k, etc). Market fluctuations will sometimes let us celebrate the same milestone multiple times :) Especially early on, we make sure to look at year over year growth because contributions can result in gains of 100, 75, 50, and 25 percent. In bad years we'll focus on just our contributions in absolute dollars or as a percentage of income. We play a game where we actively try to invest a larger amount than the year before. ...of course I've read a lot of people advocating for a "no peeking" approach. That just isn't for me.
  18. I'm 100% behind both anìmal rights and the right to not have your retirement accounts raided by financial 'professionals'. I'll be at the Florida 403b/457b protest if one ever pops up and if I ever have the ability to ensure one pops up then it will. After the last few months, I don't think ignorance is the problem here in Orange County (FL). I've met in person and exchanged emails with somebody in the union I've been ignored by both union presidents (instructional and non-instructional) I've emailed the school board members, chairman, and superintendent once or twice. I've spoken at a school board meeting. I've exchanged many emails and phone calls with the OCPS Director of Risk Management, OCPS Senior Manager of Retirement Services, OCPS Chief Financial Officer, and others. Lots of these people have flat out ignored me. Everybody else has listened, seemingly understood, and failed to make any commitment to action. Here at OCPS they can't claim ignorance, they're doing this knowingly and intentionally.
  19. What do you mean by "I've thought for a long time that teachers should necessarily be advocates for their students when it comes to political discussions?"
  20. Thanks Steve! I'm quite tired so I might be asking stupid questions but... Which lists need more vertical spacing? Every bulleted list? My wife does the graphics and she agrees. I'm going to go through and search for acronyms. Do you think the ticker symbols cause more harm to novices than they help intermediate folks? Maybe I should just get rid of them. "We" = me and my wife. If someday people join our effort "we" will refer to everybody involved. Gotcha, I'll have to do the same with PlanMember Direct. TR Price reference got the axe (as did a similar reference somewhere else). I consider TIAA to be a fairly well intentioned actor but there are 5 other vendors in FL that allow you to construct a similarly awesome portfolio for cheaper. I appreciate your time, guidance, and inspiration!
  21. I think it is really cool and interesting that you literally landed at Ellis Island. How old were you? Where did you and your family come from? Any interesting stories/memories you want to share about the experience? As far as being frugal, I'm not sure how it happened (my sister is quite different than me). As a young child I remember playing video games that would inevitably give me some awesome resource (powerful gun, healing potion, whatever). I wouldn't use the resource because at some point in the future I might really need it. I'd always get to the end of the game without using it despite having unnecessarily struggled through a few of the levels. As far as I can remember that attitude has always been with me but I don't plan to get to death without using my retirement savings :) ...I do remember during college shedding some tears of frustration because I couldn't afford to go to the dentist and for a time I had to beg for food from students who had the meal plan. That certainly played a role in my intense desire for financial independence. I applaud Virginia, I didn't know about that. Steve, I'll look into Google Analytics. I tried to use Google Search Console but it doesn't seem to tell me much. Wordpress does give me some useful info though.
  22. Tony, I agree completely about wishing people would learn more about financial matters. We start off by not providing any financial education to our kids in public schools and then we make financial discussions taboo (I hypothesize it's because we tie a person's worth to their wealth). That is a vicious combo that I frankly don't blame people for not overcoming. ...plus in my family nobody really had money so there was nothing to discuss even if it weren't taboo. Steve, thanks! I've seen some traffic coming from Facebook that I think came from you.
  23. I was under the impression that a 10% bond holding increases risk-adjusted returns. I haven't read Bernstein but I do love a quote that I believe is attributed to him, "Act as if every broker, insurance salesman, mutual fund salesman and financial advisor you encounter is a hardened criminal."
  24. I like the argument that bonds can prevent people from freaking out and committing behavioral errors, which are the biggest dangers out there. I hope people aren't buying bonds because they hope/think it might outperform.
  25. If anybody has the time or interest to fact check me, I've put together a breakdown of the 5 best 403(b)/457(b) vendors offered in Florida. https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/floridas-best-403b-457b-vendors My website has gotten a few non-OCPS(FL) visitors and I'd like to provide them with a solid overview of what are probably their best options. I listed the total fees and funds to use for both a 3 fund portfolio and a 1 fund portfolio. If you're able to find any omissions or errors please let me know. Maybe I'm even missing an awesome vendor? I'll be reviewing it for the next few days before I actually link to it from my site. Thanks!
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