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Author: Mudster1 Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76388  
Subject: retirement planning questions Date: 1/16/2005 5:53 PM
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Hi,
I am cross posting this on some other boards in hopes of lots of input.
Thanks!
Mudster

Greetings Fools!

I am posting here in hopes of getting some feedback, suggestions, and perhaps referrals to resources here on TMF. I've been reading articles by the likes of Shannon Zimmerman and Robert Brokamp and have come to realize that I have been coasting along for a decade or more without any sort of asset allocation plan for my retirement savings. Now that I realize I probably need one, I am really unsure of what is recommended and/or Foolish, and how to develop a Foolish plan.

I have at least 20 years until retirement, and probably a few more before I would begin to actually withdraw retirement savings. I am a teacher, so I am fully vested in my state's retirement plan. I am not considering this too much in my plans, as I guess I don't have that much faith in our state government. I'll believe in that money when I see it. Still, this program is more solvent than Social Security, so it is likely that it will come through. As far as Social Security goes, I'll feel lucky if I get 50% of current benefit levels adjusted for inflation when I retire.

My current holdings are 92 ½% in equities, 7 ½ percent in non-equities (fixed/guaranteed account, reit, bond fund). This is due to 2 factors. First, when I started saving for retirement, no one suggested that I put any of my funds into a guaranteed account, so I accumulated a lot of holding in equities before I even thought about more diversification. Second, although I have been putting money into a fixed account, reit, and bond fund for 2-3 years now, the other holdings have appreciated at a faster rate.

Only 6% of my equity holdings are individual stocks (in a Roth IRA). 50% of the equities are in index funds (total market, S&P 500, mid-cap, small-cap index funds). The rest is in other managed funds through a 403b(7) plan at work.

I max my IRA contributions every year now. At present holding levels, it is hard to diversify that much without encountering fees of some sort. I presently put 2/3 of my annual contribution into a Vanguard total stock market index (sort of the core of my portfolio) and then put 1/3rd into a Scottrade account where I purchase individual stocks (long-term buy to hold).

My 403(b)7 funds are with two companies, the one I deal with now (TIAA-CREF), and another company that I used to do business with whom I became dissatisfied. I have not combined these holdings, because there is a surrender charge to do so. If I make no contribution for 5 years (I am in year 3 now), the surrender charge is waived and I can freely roll it over. The funds in this account are diversified into 3 index funds and 4 managed funds.
Currently, 60% of new contributions are going to either the guaranteed account (40%) or the REIT and Bond funds (10% each), with the rest split between 2 equity funds (one indexed, one managed).

My guaranteed return options range from a short-term fixed account (3.00%, can move 20% of funds every 90 days), a long-term fund (3.5% guaranteed and historical actual yield), and, with TIAA, 3.5% but actual yield has been 4.00% or a bit higher.

I have various non-equity options, but none of them are too attractive to me beyond the REIT and the bond fund I have. I am not very attracted to bonds as I think the next decade or two may not be as favorable for bonds as the last 20 years have been.


Questions I am pondering (and seeking input about):
· Should I put more money into a guaranteed account?
· Would it be better if I waited until I roll over my original 403b and put a significant portion of that into a fixed account at the time of rollover? [this account is about 50% of my retirement holdings]
o For example, if I put 40% of this into a guaranteed account at the time of rollover (about 2 years from now), my total non-equity holdings (using current levels) would be about 1/3 of my total holdings, with most of this being guaranteed.

· What are common diversification allocations?
· Although reading articles makes me feel as though I have too much in equities, I do not personally feel uncomfortable with that risk this far from retirement. I am more uncomfortable about my lack of a strategy/plan. Is this insane? Am I totally to deep into equities?
· What haven't I even thought about that is really important to consider?


Any help, ideas, pointers, suggestions, etc. are appreciated. I may cross-post this to get as much input as possible. THANKS for your time and thoughts!

Mudster
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