Have you ever wondered about the differences between a 403(b) vs 401(k)? In our house, we have both. I work as an engineer and have a 401(k). My wife is a teacher and has a 403(b). Early on when we first got our jobs, I honestly knew nothing about either plan. We each just simply filled out the forms and really thought nothing of it. A few years later when I started taking more and more of an interest in personal finance, I became more curious about how each one of the plans works. How are they the same? How are they different? More importantly, as we started crafting our … [Read more...] about What’s the Difference Between a 403(b) vs 401(k)?
Every now and again when I read through the headlines on my favorite money news sites, I see the same desperate-for-attention headlines proclaiming that “retirement is dead” and that we basically have no hope of ever saving enough money. How do they draw those conclusions? The usual suspects cited are the decline of pensions, the deflating of Social Security and the rise in costs as reasons why none of us can save and why we’ll all need to work until we are 80. And then there is my personal favorite: The 401k. They talk about the 401k like it’s a James Bond villain. When they compare … [Read more...] about The Pension vs 401k – The 401k Did Not Kill Retirement
The tagline to My Money Design has always been designing financial freedom. For as long as I’ve been into reading financial books and blogs about money, I’ve seen a lot of them try to answer the question of what is financial freedom. However, I feel as though the weight of this term often gets lost or trivialized. In this post, we’re going to layout a definition for financial freedom and explain where we need to focus in order to achieve it. … [Read more...] about What is Financial Freedom – The Easy to Follow Explanation
Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is safe and having a smooth transition into this new start. It seems this event is always marked with a great deal of optimism because people feel like they have a symbolic marker from which they can wipe the slate clean and start out fresh. It might be eating habits; it might be quitting your bad vices. For me, it always marks a time to re-evaluate our long term financial goals and see if our actions will get us to where we want to be. … [Read more...] about Our Long Term Financial Goals and How We’ll Meet Them in the New Year
Not too long ago, I was trying to demonstrate how NOT taking full advantage of your 401k matching contributions offered by your employer was causing you to lose out on more money over the course of your career than you probably thought! While it’s never too late to get your personal finances in order, one simple mistake I see people making all the time that kills me is when they wait as late as 5 to 10 years before they finally get with the program and start contributing enough to their retirement plan to get the full 401k matching from their employer. I beg you - Please don’t waste another … [Read more...] about Why You Need to Get Your Full 401k Matching as Early as Possible
When I read that 49% of Americans are not contributing to any retirement plan at all, I was not surprised to find out that the biggest offender group were people between the ages of 18 to 34. My guess is that it's not that they don't want to do it, but rather that they don't know how to save for retirement. The last time there was a round of 401k sign-up at work, my younger colleagues seemed hopelessly lost. They were given a nice big folder of papers containing numbers of charts, and told the old “you should probably contribute 10% of your paycheck” advice. But when it came down to, … [Read more...] about Six Easy Steps for Figuring Out How to Save for Retirement
Let me see if I can describe how your employer 401k or 403b retirement plan orientation went: • You all walked into a meeting. • An HR administrator handed you a folder chucked full of loose documents. • You were released with little direction and told to bring the papers back all filled in. Am I close? It’s pretty sad that something so important to our livelihoods later on in life is treated as another routine task. There are many things that should be explained to you when you sign up for your 401k (click here for my complete guide on this topic). But if there’s one thing where … [Read more...] about How to Pick Good Mutual Funds for Your 401k or Retirement Plan
If you have any hopes and dreams at all of retiring early, then you know that one of the biggest challenges you face is the fact that there are penalties for withdrawing your money too early from your retirement accounts. For most of them, this will be age 59 ½ (click here for a complete list). So one of the re-occurring questions that we keep asking on MyMoneyDesign is: • How do I bridge the gap between early retirement and age 59 ½? In previous posts, we’ve reviewed the following non-employment, investment-style options available: • File for a 72t or “SEPP - Substantially Equal Periodic … [Read more...] about Will Dividend Stocks Help Me Retire Early?
In the first part of this series, I wanted to test the claim that dollar cost averaging (DCA) was an effective strategy for protecting your investments. Too often I’ve heard claims against investing within the media saying that if you had bought stocks (particularly) during “The Lost Decade” between 2000 and 2010, then you would have had a -23% return on your money. After crunching the numbers, we determined that dollar cost averaging would have beat a static investment in the S&P 500 and returned a -6.8% return instead of a -23%. That’s great, but who wants a negative return?! Why … [Read more...] about Would Dollar Cost Averaging and Bonds Have Saved You From “The Lost Decade”?
From time to time when I get my 401k statement, there is a small newsletter mixed in with my financial statement. It usually presents some very introductory information about retirement, investments, etc. In this issue one of the topics was dollar-cost averaging. For those of you who don’t know, dollar cost averaging (DCA) is a strategy where you invest the same amount time after time. During the good times when shares are higher, you buy fewer shares. During the rough times when shares are lower, you buy more shares. This strategy prevents you from buying at the wrong time and … [Read more...] about Would Dollar Cost Averaging Have Saved You From “The Lost Decade”?