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Make smart choices about your money, time and productivity

Oct 8, 2018

#155: How can a schoolteacher dad and stay-at-home mom send their four kids to college? Where should a 23-year-old keep the savings that she’s accumulating to buy a home by the time she’s 27 or 28? What should we know about retirement planning if we have a pension? And should I rollover my 401k from my old employer?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these four questions in this week’s episode. Here are the details.

Miguel asks:
When I hear friends and coworkers talking about college tuition for their kids, all I can think about is how in the world am I going to send my four kids to college? I think I have a plan - I’d love to hear your opinion.

From what I hear, college can be between $20-50k per year.

I currently own two houses - one is a rental and one is our personal residence. We’re working on paying those mortgages down in about 7 years. I want my kids to get their basic courses from a community college to save some money, but for the rest I really think that taking a loan will be the best option. Usually these loans don’t have to be paid until they graduate, so I feel like that will give me some more time to become more financially stable.

If I get to pay those mortgages in the time that I’m thinking, I’d like to buy a couple more rentals. I’m currently halfway to max out my contribution for my 403(b) plan. I’m a teacher, I’m making about 91k per year and my wife stays home. I would love to hear your opinion on my plan. I feel like if I had that kind of cash - $20-$50k a year - I would rather invest it and help my kids down the road.

Anna asks:
I am 23 and I’m saving to buy a primary residence in 4-5 years. In the meantime, I’m wondering where to invest my money so that it will grow but won’t be too susceptible to market fluctuations since I’ll be needing the cash relatively quickly.

Andy asks:
You’ve written before that if we contribute 10% of our salary towards retirement and our employer matches 5% automatically, we are saving 15% for our retirement.

My question is, does the same principle apply to pensions? For instance, if I’m contributing 5% of my salary towards my pension and my employer is contributing 9 to 10%, making it around a 15% contribution overall, should that then count as a 15% retirement savings?

Drew asks:
I have a question about a 401(k) rollover. I recently switched employers and so far I’m very happy with the transition. With my new compensation, I’m now able to more than double my 401(k) contributions, and I’m on track to max out my new HSA while still maintaining the same take-home pay from my old job.

My old employer had a 401(k) through Merrill Lynch and I was able to do a mix of contributions to both Roth and Traditional. My new 401(k) through Charles Schwab has this option. According to the documentation I’ve received from Merrill Lynch, I have four options at my disposal:

1. Keep assets where they are
2. Roll them into some kind of IRA
3. Transfer them into a new 401(k)
4. Take a cash distribution

With this in mind, here are my questions:

• Aside from the four options presented to me, are there any other options I should consider?
• Are there any time constraints I should consider for this kind of roll over?
• What would you recommend I do with these funds? I’ve heard you repeatedly mention the benefit of having all of my assets under one dashboard, so I am leaning towards transferring the assets into my new 401(k). I currently do not have an IRA, and I’ve been meaning to get one set up for a while. This seems like a great opportunity to get one up and running as an alternative strategy.