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Teacher Stories

Tom, age 41

Photo of Tom

As teacher, Tom teaches English Language Development, ELD, to adults in an adult K-12 environment, and he loves getting to work with incredibly diverse, driven, and interesting immigrants every day. His biggest challenge is that he works at an open-enrollment school, so it is difficult to maintain continuity in the classroom.

We asked Tom 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 been working on it for 20+ years. My wife is more aggressive at saving and learning than me, but I have picked up a lot by reading, listening, and trial and error.

What is your biggest money worry?

Ironically, we are aggressive savers for retirement, so I have little extra money each month for fun purchases or unforeseen expenses. It’s hard to put so much away and yet feel like I never have money.

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 7. If I could change anything about my plan, I would say the fees are not too bad, but are higher than I’d like. The interface to see balances, options, etc is clunkier than Vanguard’s standard portal (but still better than others I’ve seen!)

What prompted you to start a 403(b)?

I had been doing a Roth for many years, but especially as we get into higher tax brackets, we have diversified retirement savings to include more pre-tax.

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

Ha, never!

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

Yes. I believe it is one who puts your (not his/her own) best financial interests first in every instance.

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

We have been using one for awhile, so I have no pressing questions.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I’m shocked how little many colleagues know about and/or plan for retirement. The reality is that we do have to take charge. I don’t see that from many people.

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