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Teacher Stories

Tara, age 30

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As an Itinerant Speech-Language Pathologist, Tara works with students in grades K-8 to help remediate speech and language disorders. She is assigned to 5 different small schools, and typically travels to 2-3 schools a day. She loves getting one-on-one and small-group time with students. "They love the individualized attention and we always have a good time," she says. There are a lot of perks to her job, but there are also a lot of challenges. It's not easy to juggle 5 different schools, lug stuff from school-to-school, manage schedules, and procedures at 5 different locations. It's also difficult to forge bonds with anyone as she's only at each school for a very short amount of time. She rarely gets to speak to any staff so most days the only communication she has is with 5-7 year olds.

We asked Tara 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 6 because I have dedicated an incredible amount of time to educating myself about retirement and retirement planning. I think I understand more than most people when it comes to investing for retirement, so I'll put myself just above the half-way point. There is still SO MUCH I don't know and a lot that I know about but still just don't fully understand. I have a lot of room for growth.

What is your biggest money worry?

My biggest money worry at the moment is that I will invest our hard-earned money in a way that isn't the most advantageous for us long-term or in a way that we would lose money. I also worry about how our finances will change once we have children.

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

No, because my school only has high-cost annuities or plans that require an advisor. It is widely known that most advisors cannot beat the market when compared to self-managed, low-cost index funds. Currently, I am lobbying to get a low-cost vendor that allows a self-managed option (Aspire Financial Services) approved for our school. I am starting with a Roth IRA in the meantime.

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

No. But, a 403(b) rep presented at our new teacher induction program at my first school when I was fresh out of college. That was before the school-year even started so I hadn't even received my first real paycheck yet.

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

Yes. I would say a fiduciary is an unbiased financial professional who provides a service that functions in your best interest, not theirs. I'd add that fee-only fiduciary advisors can provide a service for a flat fee or hourly fee, and they do not make any money off of commissions, kickbacks, etc. from suggesting specific products to you.

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

I have many, which is why I just hired a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor.😊 Two questions I would ask would be, "What asset allocation would you recommend to someone in XYZ position, and what funds do you think would be best for that portfolio?"

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I think most schools could probably drastically improve their 403(b) education. It seems like all the education comes from sales reps. I think all schools should be required to provide education from an unbiased third party organization.

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