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I'm really grateful to you guys for your help! :) I am responding to a few comments:

1) State of Illinois retirement plan: yes, I know Illinois and California are the worst in the country. When I moved to Illinois about 5 years ago, there were three available options:

a) Traditional Retirement Plan: this is obviously for masochists. Once you have chosen that, you are screwed. You cannot take anything out of it at any point before retirement and depend on the state's economy and whims. I obviously stayed away from it.

b) Portable Retirement Plan: this one is closer to what I knew from Europe, i.e. guaranteed retirement, but you definitely need the supplemental plans. If an Illinois employee leaves before 5 years, one can take along and transfer only one's contributions, but not the state's. After 5 years of employment, and assuming you get a position outside Illinois, which I would very much like to do at this point, you can take along both yours and the state's contributions and transfer them elsewhere.

Unfortunately, what they didn't tell me when they told me about the options I had, was that I wouldn't see the state contributions before retirement, so while I see my money with a 7-7.5% interest increase per year after 2009 (in 2009 they gave us 0% due to the economic downturn), I don't see what the state has contributed, although I know it's around 7% of my salary. Also unfortunately, I may not switch accounts and manage my money myself any more because this is a once in a lifetime decision, assuming one stays in Illinois of course.

c) Self-managed portfolio: that's where you get both the state's contributions and yours and go to either Fidelity or TIAA-CREF and buy mutual funds. As I said, at the time I had no clue about investing in the US, and, from what I am told, I was wise not to self-manage, because all my colleagues and friends lost more than 30% of everything they had due to the financial crisis! On the other hand, I maintained my balance. Of course, there is the state of Illinois mess now.

The state of Illinois is currently trying to change its pension system, and I hear that people would very much welcome offering us the opportunity to take our money and self-manage it. It would be a blessing if this happened because I will obviously opt to manage my money myself. However, until they actually do this, I cannot do anything, unless of course I try to talk to one of the Federal Senators about being deceived regarding the state contributions I was told would be there in my account but are not. If all else fails, I can complain officially to the US Department of State, under whose protection I still am, but I doubt I'll be able to accomplish anything in any case.



2) FKRGX: yes, you are right, it had a gain, but my other funds did a lot better. Additionally, most of my earnings were pocketed by the "evil" financial advisor my friends suggested. I also don't particularly like a heavy-load fund such as FKRGX. Because the financial advisor never consulted me before buying anything at all, I am currently looking into filing a complaint and demanding the return of all hidden fees and my earnings. Whether I will be successful there remains to be seen, but I will be happy if I even accomplish a partial recovery.


3) Regarding the Vanguard Funds, I am thinking of opening an account with Vanguard and buying them from there, so that I can avoid the fee. I'll either buy them as an investment, or transfer my Traditional IRA entirely to Vanguard. A question I have is this: is it legal to have two Traditional IRAs, i.e. one with Vanguard and one with Fidelity, as long as I don't exceed the maximum annual tax-deferred contribution?


Again, I'm most obliged for your help. :)
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