403bwise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The K-12 403(b) is broken.
Together we can fix it.

Teacher Stories

Caroline, age 58

Photo of Caroline

As a Speech Language Pathologist, Caroline evaluates, and provides speech language therapy for children in preschool through high school. She also provides consultation to team and family members. Keeping up with current research and difficult cases is a challenge.

We asked Caroline some questions about what he knows or wants to know about the 403(b) and saving for retirement, and this is what he said.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being total understanding, how well do you understand saving for retirement? Why did you pick this number?

I picked 8 because I have two sisters who are financially savy and they have helped me. I have also read a couple of books on saving for retirement.

What is your biggest money worry?

What will my medical expenses going to be in retirement?

Do you have a 403(b)? If yes, are you satisfied with your investment? If you do not have a 403(b), why not?

I have a 403(b). On a scale of 1 to 10, my satisfaction with my 403(b) plan is 1.

What prompted you to start a 403(b)?

I needed to save for retirement.

Did you ever hear about the 403(b) in your teacher preparation program?


Do you know what a fiduciary financial advisor is? If yes, how would you describe a fiduciary to a colleague?

Yes. A fiduciary financial advisor takes a pledge to provide investment advice based on your best interest, not his or hers. Be wary of the advisors who visit the school and don't explain their compensation.

If you could ask a financial advisor one question what would it be?

Given increasing medical expenses, how will I manage mine in retirement?

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I got a late start in my career and started with a low salary. I was in my 40s before I began saving for retirement through a 403(b) plan (with Vanguard). My district dropped Vanguard. They blamed new IRS rules (note: Many school districts offer Vanguard). After that I met with two advisors. There were only three (AXA, Metropolitan, and Ameriprise). One told me there were no fees and the other failed to mention the asset fee. I was having difficulty understanding their compensation, so I opened a brokerage account outside of my retirement plan (I used Vanguard). A few employees in my district are lobbying for low-cost vendors.

View all stories »