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Teacher Stories

Dennis, age 40

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As a High School English Teacher, Dennis teaches 9th and 12th grade English Language Arts (ELA). He loves connecting with students, and helping them become better readers and writers. He says that student motivation is always a challenge.

We asked Dennis 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 10 because we completely changed our financial future in the last 5 years. Beginning in 2016 we started to get out of debt. Now in 2021, we will be purchasing a house on a 15-year-loan, maxing out our retirement accounts, saving for our kid's college, and will attain financial independence in 8-10 years.

What is your biggest money worry?

To be honest, money worries have faded away now that we are out of debt and have an emergency fund. As we move to max out retirement accounts and look to be F.I.R.E. in 8-10 years, it is the first time in our lives that money is no longer a stress.

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) with CalSTRS P2 (starting in 2022). I have a 457(b) where I invest in Vanguard funds via my district's record keeper Voya. On a scale of 1 to 10, my satisfaction with my 403(b) plan is 10.

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 financial advisor who usually is fee-based and required to put their clients interests above their own.

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

I have a 10-year plan that will get us to financial independence. My questions are now about tax loss harvesting, back door ROTH, real estate investing beyond our own home and investing in non-retirement accounts.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

Just happy to help others by sharing my family's financial story from being in debt to financial freedom.

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