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I guess what I really need to do is find the answer to this question: which is better long term investment -- a TSA with the tax advantages but presumably high fees or "relativey tax efficient" after-tax investments?

I was in a similar quandry over what to do with my 403b. I work for the Detroit Public Schools, and only have 8 or so choices. All of them are insurance companies that offer annuities. TIAA-CREF isn't even one of them. Many of them have surrender charges up to 18% that last 10 years! I don't want my money tied up in some poor investment.

I made the decision not to fund my 403b. My husband contributes the max to his 401k. We fully fund our Roths. We automatically deposit $400/mo into a Vanguard VTSMX account. In August, we began putting approx $2-3k a month in an Ameritrade taxable account and are planning to split this among this account and the Vanguard account. So, because I am not contributing to my 403b, we are making it up in other areas.

One more thought...I am not sure how your state plan works, but in Michigan, we can purchase up to 5 years of "universal service credit" which goes towards our retirement. The cost of each year is based on your age and current salary. You can also purchase up to 5 years of maternity leave. The formula for our pension is

# of years worked * highest year's salary * .015

so each year adds 1.5% onto your yearly pension amount.

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