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Teacher Stories

Justin (on right), age 30

Photo of Justin (on right)

As a Middle School Math Teacher, Justin (on right) teaches math to 110 6th grade students in Baltimore, MD. He infuses instruction with personal finance topics. Additionally, he serves as the grade level chairperson, leads the mentoring team, and and coaches the school's baseball team. The school has a very active alumni. He loves seeing former athletes and students come back and share how they have benefited from their time in his class, and playing baseball for him. The most challenging part of the job is having to differentiate math instruction for classes as large as 40 students.

We asked Justin (on right) some questions about what she knows or wants to know about the 403(b) and saving for retirement, and this is what she 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 9 because I have a firm understanding of all the retirement vehicles I am offered and the maximum limits I can contribute to retire early. I also understand the tax system and how to be most efficient with my income so it can last into the future.

What is your biggest money worry?

My biggest money worry is retiring early and having to cover the cost of healthcare insurance.

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 Vanguard. On a scale of 1 to 10, my satisfaction with my 403(b) plan is 10. If I could change anything about my plan, Vanguard charges teachers in my district a (very fair) flat fee of $5 a month. I would like to see our district educate more teachers about this plan versus the expensive options that most of my colleagues use. There is also a lack of knowledge around the benefits of the 457(b)!

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. I am a fiduciary financial advisor outside of teaching. I serve educators, first-responders, and healthcare professionals. We signed a pledge to always act in the best interest of our clients. We also are independent and fee-only which means we only get compensated from our client and have no outside influence. If you choose to work with a financial advisor, please be sure to ask your potential advisor if they are a fee-only fiduciary financial planner!

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

I have had the honor of studying to get my CFP (Certified Financial Planner) through Boston University. I am happy with the education they provided. One area I continue to work to improve my knowledge on is estate planning and rules around RMD's (Required Minimum Distributions). My question would be around that topic.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

Teachers have a few financial advantages that are not often talked about: 1) We can max out both the 457(b) and 403(b) which for 2020 is a pre-tax savings of over $39,000! Amazing!; 2) We get to goal set twice per year: January and September. That's two "fresh starts!" I think that can accelerate personal growth two-fold; 3) Teachers closing in on retirement can keep their supplemental retirement vehicles more aggressive for longer than most because of the monthly pension payments. This can allow those investments to compound longer.

Justin (on right) is our podcast guest in episode 98: Happy Saver

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