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  1. This depends on your overall asset allocation strategy, that is, how much you hold in stocks vs bonds. We don't know enough specifics at this point to make a recommendation on that front: you need to consider your whole financial picture, not just one isolated account. Count that 3% guaranteed account as "bonds" for these purposes. You can also think of the present value of any future pension or social security as a bond-type part of your portfolio (those can also be understood as annuities, but the stable income is the relevant factor here). Calculate your total retirement portfolio: is the Lincoln account half of your overall retirement savings, or 80%, or 20%...? Do you need to withdraw this money for income immediately, or in small installments every year for life, or do you expect to never spend it and leave it to accumulate for heirs? If the latter, stocks are the way to go. If you need to spend it within the next three years or so, short term bonds (or maybe even that money market account) would be appropriate. The other factor here is your "sleeping point." Even if the math says that you should put everything into stocks, if you are going to bail out and sell after a big market decline you should not do it. Over the years the value of your stock investments will experience big declines--you should plan on riding out a 50 or 60% drop (maybe more than once). Once you've arrived at a ratio between stocks/bonds/immediately needed cash, recommending funds will be easy. I think everyone here will suggest low cost (such as Vanguard or Fidelity) broad market index funds, some combo of "total (US) stock market," "total international" and "total bond" funds. What matters is getting a broadly diversified low cost portfolio that you will stay with for the long term. If you prefer an all-in-one "target date" or "life strategy" fund, those are reasonable choices as well.
  2. Congratulations on being ready to retire at your age. My 2¢: If you are netting a guaranteed 3% from that Equitable product, and you want to allocate that much to a super-low-risk investment, you might want to sit tight there. It may be what is called a "stable value" fund, a kind of investment product that is usually limited to retirement plans. You just need to check and double check that you are really getting the full return (in other words, that there isn't an administrative fee that gets taken out of your account after the 3% is paid--such an arrangement is common). You also want to keep an eye on it, in case the "guaranteed" interest rate gets adjusted downwards. While that 3% interest account may be a keeper, I would definitely roll over the Lincoln Investment balance into an IRA at Vanguard or Fidelity ASAP if I were you. You may not be paying for an account manager, but you are almost certainly paying account fees that you will leave behind when you move to the IRA. And there's nothing unusual about the investment options that you are describing. My (non-professional, non-expert) opinion is that you should bail out of that Lincoln account as soon as you turn 59 1/2.
  3. That 457b rule change did not get much publicity. To make matters worse, if you search for info online, most pages still have the old information. I don't remember how I heard about it (I'm no tax expert), but I confirmed the change with the representative of of the thrift and loan which is also the third-party administrator of 403b/457b in my district; he was on top of the new rules. So I'm pretty sure that the change is for real, and it makes 457s a bit more attractive than they used to be.
  4. Happy new year, Steve. FYI, the 457b law changed about one year ago. Something called the "Pension and Health Relief to Miners Act" passed at the same time as the "Secure Act," and it changed the rules for governmental 457b accounts; the old higher age limit or separation from service requirements were removed, so 457b money can be rolled to an IRA anytime after 59 1/2, same as with a 403b. I completed such a rollover (while still employed and contributing) in early 2020.
  5. Hi Educator4_Arts. To give you accurate advice, we'll need to know more about the where (which providers) and the what (specific investments) of your current retirement accounts. If you are invested in insurance products (such as annuity plans), it will add complications because those often have substantial fees (including the notorious "surrender" fees) that you'll need to consider before moving anything. On the other hand, if you are in an especially low-cost retirement plan (a handful of state governments offer these), it might be best to stay where you are. In most cases the best course is to rollover the funds into a traditional IRA account at a low-cost provider. (Vanguard is the favorite around here, though a few others, including Fidelity and Charles Schwab, could also work.) Such a move usually lowers costs, simplifies your finances and offers greater flexibility in investment choices (the latter is a mixed blessing). If you are age 59 1/2 or older, you can roll your 403b and 457b into an IRA anytime without cost--you don't need to wait until retirement. (I'm assuming that your 403b and 457b accounts are tax-deferred, not Roth accounts. If any are Roth, you would roll those into a Roth IRA, not a traditional IRA.) But, as I said above, your specific situation may be different from "most cases," so please fill us in before committing to any changes...
  6. That is a fine level of retirement income! Steve, your transparency about your finances (both your successes and your earlier stock market stumbles) is a valuable and inspiring model for teachers and others trying to find a path to retirement. Please keep it up.
  7. Steve, you are doing really well on the risk/reward front! My mostly-stocks portfolio is, as of Friday, up a smidge more than yours for the year (9.3%), but mine carries much greater risk of volatility than your portfolio and could sink dramatically at any point. It does feel strange that the markets are up during this cataclysmic year (the pushed-down-to-nothing bond rates probably have a lot to do with it, driving up the value of your bond funds and forcing more money into the stock market since new fixed income investments may not even keep up with inflation). It certainly does highlight the ever-widening economic gap in this country. Not only are work-from-home types (like me) financially stable while millions face unemployment, reduced schedules and business closures (not to mention illness), but the benefit of holding investments is concentrated in a depressingly small sliver of the population: something like half of US households have zero market holdings, and most of the other half have only a little invested, with balances unlikely to produce much income in retirement. To quote from a government "fact sheet": "Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 50% of married couples and 70% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security [...] 21% of married couples and about 45% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income."
  8. Vanguard is your clear first choice on this list. You are lucky to have that option. Most of the others are insurance companies offering inappropriate high-fee annuity products--stay far from them (if you encounter a salesperson, just say no). Vanguard will not be sending a salesman, but they should be able to help you by phone. I advise you to set up the 403b account and select the investments yourself. (We can help you here, at no charge,)
  9. Msucurt, everybody here shares your frustration. Especially galling is that this is far from a put-a-man-on-the-moon problem: good solutions are in place in many states. Federal government employees have the exemplary Thrift Savings Program. Several states have ultra-low-cost state programs for 403b or 457b accounts available to all qualifying workers in the state. Districts like the one I work for don't have those, but do offer direct access to low cost vendors including Fidelity and Vanguard. In every case, enrollment is simple. I guess it is a matter of building local interests that will consciously counter the interests of the insurance companies and their sales forces who have found the 403b market to be a cash cow for decades. It's a shame this hasn't been cleared up at the federal level, but the financial services folks appear to have some effective lobbyists.
  10. Fingers crossed that you're wrong about the violence.
  11. The solution to these policy matters requires elected representatives who are motivated to change the retirement laws. In some cases, they'll have to fight deep-pocketed lobbyists for the financial services industry, like the ones who successfully shut down the fiduciary rule for retirement "advisors." To me, one of these proposals should be a no-brainer: the universal portable retirement fund. I'm imagining something like TSP-for-all, with the same contribution limits for all (including independent contractors and hourly workers). The idea of a of state-funded compounding account started at birth and inaccessible until a specified age has an appeal, too, though there are obviously ongoing costs to such a plan (my first thought is to aim this at funding retirement and make it untouchable before 60 or so, but I'd be happy to listen to Cory Booker's argument for making it available to an 18 year old). Canada has a plan called Tax Free Savings Accounts that would be worth a look here. Similar in tax treatment and annual contribution limit to a Roth IRA in the states. But any Canadian over 18 can contribute—it is not linked to employment status, so students, retirees, etc. can also use this. Year after year, the annual limits are added up, and if you haven't maxed contributions, the unused remainder is carried over to future years; in other words, you can contribute up to that aggregate limit whenever the money becomes available to you. (They call it "Savings Account" but brokerage accounts and such also work in this format.)
  12. Welcome, Curt. You are correct to avoid Equitable and most of the others. Ed La Fave, also based in Florida, has documented various great-to-decent options (including Planmember direct) here: https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/floridas-best-403b-457b-vendors/ If you poke around Ed's website you will probably find other useful info. I suspect Ed will jump in here when he sees your post: he'll be an outstanding resource for you.
  13. I guess it's no surprise that a thread slips into political discussion on this week before such an emotionally charged election. I'll add my 2¢ while trying to keep partisan politics to a minimum. 1. Tony has a point: it seems reasonable to prepare for taxes going up in the future. We are in a time of historically low tax rates. Whatever any president's tax platform, that isn't likely to be the final story: the president doesn't write the tax laws, congress does (under the influence of large donors and lobbyists, which is a serious problem in my view). There are also current issues that I'll tiptoe past here (including underfunded government obligations, failing infrastructure, historically high concentration of wealth, the list goes on) that seem to me likely to mandate higher tax rates in the future, though I don't know exactly how that will look. 2. I don't think that higher taxes will necessarily have a bad effect on typical retirees. Taxes can bring benefits. For example, if income tax bumps up but Social Security benefits are sharply increased, that'd be an improvement for many retirees. 3. There's a chance that capital gain tax rates will return to earlier levels, or be raised to the same tax treatment as earned income. This would be an added cost for retirees with substantial assets in taxable accounts, but many (most?) retiree investment assets are in tax-advantaged accounts where capital gains tax is not a factor. Just guessing, but I'll bet it's a fairly small percentage of retirees for whom taxable capital gains and dividends make up a large part of their income, and the large majority of those are well-heeled enough that they are unlikely to struggle financially if the cap gain rate rises. (Please let me know if I'm wrong about that.) 4. Scott and Krow, I think I share your opinions. But I welcome other perspectives, too. And I'm still hoping for more descriptions of how retirement works!
  14. Krow, Thanks for that. Great to hear how you made it work at 56, notwithstanding the limitations you came up against. Your multi-year Pacific experience sounds fantastic!
  15. Tony, Thanks for the nudge on the health care front. You are correct, no doubt about it.
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