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Author: kimmmmm Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 75779  
Subject: Defined benefit/purchase service time ? Date: 3/30/2008 4:49 PM
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Hello, this is my first post to this board. I've read some of the posts here, plus tried searching to see if a question has been posted before about a situation similar to mine. I haven't had any luck finding one, so I'll just state my situation and my plans, and look for your feedback.

I've been working for almost a year at a job that takes deductions for a defined benefit retirement plan for the State of Arizona. I'd also worked full time at a temp job the year before that, which also contributes to the same program. That means I will have two years of credited service when fiscal year end (June 30) is calculated.

Well over thirty years ago, I started working for the same employer I am working for now. I stayed there over six years, before resigning and going on the Mommy-track. My then-DH and I elected to withdraw my retirement contributions for some reason I don't even remember now.

About ten years after that, DH and I divorced, and I worked for a telco for about twelve years until the office I worked in was closed. I rolled over the lump-sum pension benefit into an IRA, but kept my 401(k) contributions still with Fidelity, who administered the plan for my former employer.

I have the option to "buy back" my former service time, and I'm looking into doing so, since I would be able to transfer the needed funds directly from my old 401(k). I'm waiting to get the numbers from the retirement plan on what the cost to me would be.

I am 55, single, and expect to remain that way. I expect to continue to work until I'm 66 (knock wood) and am eligible for full SS benefit (what ever might be left of that). I may continue working, possibly part time, since there wouldn't be any penalty.

By my increasing my service time and thereby increasing my payout benefit, I would end up decreasing the risk factor in my investments. I had thought about rolling my 401(k) monies into a target fund, possibly Vanguard's 2020, before the idea of re-purchasing my old service time came up. Now that I am well past the probation period at the job and look forward to staying on until I'm ready to quit working, I'm thinking about looking at doing a rollover to an IRA, using a target fund with a later date with money left in my 401(k)after the service purchase. I think my situation would allow me a higher equity to bond mix.

What am I overlooking? I'm so close to this issue, and am having trouble standing back for a dispassionate look.

kimmmmm
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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 62065 of 75779
Subject: Re: Defined benefit/purchase service time ? Date: 3/30/2008 6:13 PM
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Welcome to the board, kimmmm.

A key question is what about inflation from your Arizona state pension. If the payment from that and Social Security are both cost of living adjusted, they could be an excellent program. But many pensions pay a fixed amount for life. Then covering rising cost of living becomes very important. For that equity investments are often recommended because they tend to give better average returns than do fixed incomes.

Vanguard is a quality company, but if you need inflation protection your problem is that in 2020 and beyond your money will be mostly in bonds. So you will need a strategy for growth after that. Reinvesting in another fund is possible, but some deal with this problem by selecting longer term funds, say a 2040 fund--to maintain a higher equity position.

The advantage of the 2020 funds (or similar Freedom funds) is simplicity. They adjust your allocation automatically as you get closer to the target retirement date. You can do the same thing yourself by selecting your own mutual funds, but then the transfers from one fund type to the other might be taxable (although you hope they will mostly be transfers of capital gains).

So that is just a few things to think about. Make sure you plan for inflation during retirement. You will likely be retired over 30 years and costs will probably double at least once and maybe more while you are retired.

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