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Soultastic Bloggers

  • Claire H.
    What can I say man, she cracks me up! I'll also add that it's awesome having her as a cousin (in-law). Indeed.
  • Anna L.
    Anna just rocques.
  • Erika
    Art + Mothering + Awesomeness=Erika
  • Katie CL
    Awesome cousin-in-law that we get to see way too little.
  • Suzanne
    The new Suzanne blog. Like the old one, just more Typepaddy.
  • FUNDamentals Ezine
    Quarterly ezine about the intersection of the spiritual and material. Also I get to work on it.
  • Kim
    If she's as awesome a boss as she is a mom, and you know she is, that kid's gonna be amazing.
  • Myk
    Talented? Aww yeah. Easy to scare? In surplus. Loving and compassionate? You betcha.
  • NathanB
    One smart fella, in the midst of daddyland.
  • Robbie F.
    Robbie is...well, Robbie is Robbie. Intensely.
  • Juliet M.
    We're learning a lot from this very cool mom and friend we've gotten to know recently.
  • Heather B
    Co-founder of a family, magazine, and parent-support network that I've had the privilege to get to know recently.
  • Heather L
    Completely dedicated to making others happy.
  • Katie B.
    Dear sister-in-law who's a new a mommy, which is totally awesome. She's gonna mom the heck out of that child.
  • Anya
    Dear sister-in-law - changing, transforming, learning, creating, erm...arting.
  • dooce
    Mothering and writing.
  • danio
    As much love and joy as 10 men. Semiotician, philosopher, writer, artist, actor, inventor of the word weblo.
  • Liza
    Dear sister-in-law helping the world communicate better, one child at a time.
  • Kari
    Filmmakers view of the world. Proud to call her my friend.
  • Jessica
    Having braved the reservations of South Dakota, she now braves Chicago, all with the voice of an angel.
  • Bahiyyih
    Awesome mother, awesome friend. (Inventor of the word webble)
  • Lacey
    A wonderful person; host to a family of blogs; the one who started it all for me.
  • Dad
    A great dad.

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Comments

Nate

Interesting... very. Yeah that definitely makes sense, putting the maximum into one retirement plan at a time instead of spreading it out too much.

What happens to your retirement plan if you change companies? Can you roll over that money to an IRA or to another retirement plan if you want to, or do you have to keep it in the same account until you retire?

Yeah, the fees are a big drawback to those Mutual Fund companies I mentioned. They aren't loaded funds (I was on the lookout for that) but we do have those advertising fees, which I don't like. In reseearching different companies, it seemed like the bigger ones (like vanguard and fidelity) always had the least amount of fees. I suppose since they have more customers they're able to keep their prices lower. Definitely something to consider.

Husayn

I just learned about some of this stuff yesterday! I spoke with another financial planner who's a Baha'i (who actually offered to do an Investing 101 in this area that I'm hoping to set up soon). Here's what he told me. We have a mutual fund investment with him, and I asked if we should be making monthly contributions to it, or if we should roll it over into an IRA. He said I should max out my contribution to the National Center's 403b retirement plan, then when I've maxed that out or leave the Center I should start an IRA. The reason is this. 403b's, and the for-profit cousin, 401k, allow you to invest your money pre-tax. That means two things--1, for every $1 you invest, you're investing the whole dollar. If I were to invest it in an IRA, not only would it be taxed when I deposit, but I'd also have to pay whatever fee the company charges me. So I might only be investing $.75-$.80. ALSO, it lowers our taxable income, so we'll be paying less in taxes, but which is making us money because it's invested. Reading Kiplinger's they said the same thing--max out your work retirement plan before opening an IRA. And the only reason, I think, to open several IRAs is if you've maxed out your yearly contribution, which we're far from doing. That solved our problem with spreading ourselves too thin. We're focusing on the 403b, and putting our emergency fund in the EmigrantDirect account. If a house was on our horizon, which it's not going to be for a while, I'd probly think about borrowing the money in the retirement fund, like you said, or get a short-term CD.
That's tough about the limitations on diversifying your investments with those companies. I'm too scared to put everyting in 100% stocks, especially as I get older. Do you know what the fees on those mutual funds are? I heard that you have to look out for loaded funds, where they have a fee to manage the fund, and the 12-1b (I think it's called), where you're charged for the advertising the mutual fund does. Those fees can really add up, and over a lifetime of investing can add up to $50,000+!!

Nate

That's what I'm talkin' about!
Yeah, we're pretty much in the same boat. I looked into Vanguard when we were first considering an IRA and I learned a lot from their website.

I don't know if you learned about this, but one other thing you can do is open up an IRA for a "non-working spouse" meaning that if your spouse does not have an official employer, she/he can still have an IRA of her/his own (normally you aren't allowed to contribute more money than you make in a given year). So I already have an IRA and Liz is going to probably open one too, and even if she doesn't continue to be employed after the baby is born, she can still contribute to it.
The dilema We've been having is that there are so many things we want to save for, I wonder if sometimes we're spreading our investment $ too thin. I mean there's an emergency fund, which we're slowly building up, and there's money we're trying to save to buy a home someday, and then there's the IRA, and possibly another IRA. And so it seems like, sometimes, we're not getting as big of a return, because the money is so spread out.
Another cool thing to consider though, there are penalties for withdrawing money from your IRA before you reach retirement age. But there are also some exceptions. One exception is the purchase of your first home. So, theoretically, if a both Liz and I had IRA's and we wanted to buy a home and were short on the down payment, we could decide to use the money from one of our IRA's to help buy the house and still have an IRA that is untouched and will be there for us when we retire.

Another cool website you might want to check out is Domini.com Domini is a mutual fund company that only invests in socially responsible companies. They have an index fund as well, and they invest in large companies from a variety of sectors, so you're still investing in the stock market as a whole, but you're money only goes to companies which meet certain social/environmental/moral standards. The disadvantage is that (as far as I know) they have a stock only fund and a bond only fund, but nothing like the more mainstream companies where your shares become more conservative as the years go by and you have a mix of stocks and bonds. Still, it's worth checking out. It was important to us to know that our money wasn't directly supporting companies and industries that we felt opposed to for one reason or another.
The mutual fund I have now is with Ariel mutual funds, which I picked because they seemed to have a sensible investment strategy, where they take the time to search out companies that they feel have the foundations in place for steady, long term growth and stick with those companies for long periods of time, and not trying to "play" the stock market. It just made sense to me. Once again though, the same problem of not having stock and bond mixed mutual funds, so I don't know if I'll keep my money there once I retire because in any given year if the stock market is down I would actually lose money. I'm hoping that once I retire, the money in my IRA will be enough that we can live off the interest and keep the base amount constant. That might be unrealistic, but it sounds nice doesn't it?

Husayn

Yeah! It really started to make sense to me when I went to that class by the financial planner last month. He broke down the language and offered tips specifically for young people. This is just the kind of info we're hoping to share--terms, what's good for people in our stage of life, and how to get more info. I'm hoping to post more of what I've learned today or tomorrow. Hopefully that'll help a bit.

Nathan

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, but I don't know where/how to start. The language barrior and various conditions on accounts are the biggest stumbling blocks for me. I also don't have a point of reference for me to know I'm making sound decisions on what I'm investing in or contributing to.

Briana

Husayn, I can't wait until all this stuff comes together. Anytime you want to talk to someone about financial planning you've got a listening ear up here on the 2nd floor.

Heather

This is great information, Husayn. Thanks for sharing it. I'd love to learn from you guys how to make laundry detergent at home. We were buying ours at Trader Joe's for a while since it's better for the environment, but it's also a lot more expensive to buy "the good stuff" like that, so another alternative would be awesome.

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