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Teacher Stories

Nancy, age 57

Photo of Nancy

As a Family and Consumer Science Teacher (Babylon, NY), Nancy is always learning and evolving. She especially learns from the kids. She loves the "aha!" moments, and her biggest teaching challenges are the new mandates, new initiatives and the "You've got to be kidding me" requirements.

We asked Nancy 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 10 because I made every financial mistake possible and learned by doing a lot of research. Plus I teach consumer finance.

What is your biggest money worry?

Not getting solid investment returns.

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 Aspire which gives me access to Vanguard. I was initially sold high fee investments first through AXA and then by Ameriprise. On a scale of 1 to 10, my satisfaction with my 403(b) plan is 9. If I could change anything about my plan, I would change how teachers learn about the 403(b) which is usually through a sales agent selling high fee products. Teachers need to know about the 403(b) before they start teaching so they don't get victimized. Also, all teachers should have the ability to invest directly into low cost index funds without a middle man or woman.

What prompted you to start a 403(b)?

Desire to have tax deferred savings for the future. I was initially sold high fee annuity products (twice!) before I got wise and started investing in low cost mutual funds.

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

No. But it would have saved me a lot of financial pain if I had.

What is a question you would ask about your 403(b)?

Why aren't more teachers, schools and unions fighting back against high fee products?

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


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

I would ask a non-fiduciary sales agent if they "earned" any trips lately.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

Control your expenses and you’ll control your future. A pension can be great but it can also lock you into “the system” which can limit your opportunity to change where you teach, and from following your passions. Also, high fees don't equal high value in the 403(b) world!

Nancy is our podcast guest in episode 69: Teacher Plus 403(b) Advocate

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