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Dan's Blog

Model 403(b) Education 👍🏽

February 26, 2020

On Monday, February 24, 2020, I participated (via Zoom) in what I believe was a model effort to help new teachers (and others) understand the 403(b). Eastchester Union Free School District (in New York) technology teacher Anthony Rich hosted a one-hour 403(b) education event attended by 40 mostly new teachers and Teacher Assistants from his district. The session had so much going for it, the least of which was my participation. 

Key Ingredients

  • Led by a local teacher advocate 
  • Availability of excellent 403(b) vendor choices (Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard) 
  • Availability of excellent 457(b) choice (New York State Deferred Compensation Plan)
  • Participation of a Fiduciary Planner (Paul Kiley, CFP® who is not only endorsed by NYSUT but thanks to a district benefits fund, all teachers have access to Paul’s services. It only costs the fund $35 per member per year).

My contributions included showing our short new What is a 403(b)? video, sharing my 403(b) story, and walking attendees through 403bwise education and advocacy resources. I also answered a few questions.


Moments after the session, Anthony texted: "That was excellent!" I couldn't agree more. I later learned that scores of teachers stayed afterwards to ask questions. Anthony also shared that he received “piles” of emails from those who couldn’t attend but were very interested in attending another event. 

Driving Meaningful Change

From our perspective at 403bwise, these are exatly the kind of events that can drive meaningful change. Until schools of education and school districts start educating soon-to-be teachers, teachers are going to continue to be victimized by the sales agent lunchroom pitch. During the session, one attendee shared that she had fallen for an email inquiry. Despite having excellent choices in Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard, she signed up for a high-cost annuity product. She will soon cease contributing to that vendor and will begin directing all new contributions to one of the low-cost vendors teachers at Eastchester are so lucky to have. They are just as lucky to have a colleague like Anthony Rich who we profiled in a Teacher Story and interviewed on a podocast (see below). For his part, Anthony credits elder colleagues who encouraged him to open a 403(b) account in his first year of teaching. He looks at these sessions as his way of paying it forward. Just think how much more money these teachers are going to have for retirement because of this virtuous circle of helping colleagues? If it works in this district, it can work in all districts.

Ready to Assist

We at 403bwise stands ready and willing to help any school district and school of education provide 403(b) education. We can Zoom in or if several events can be scheduled we can attend in person. Contact me if interested in hosting a similar event. 

Related Podcast:

Wealthy Teachers We talk to a New York teacher couple who have saved a substantial sum in their 403(b) and 457(b) plans.  Listen Now »