Here is a short list (it’s not 10 yet, I know). Come back to see updates.

Must-Knows for Teachers and others in 403b plans

1) Choosing where to put your money can be learned in an afternoon and is not any harder than choosing an appropriate hook or an assessment for your students.

2) Relying on a professional to manage your retirement contributions does not soften the hit your account will take in a down market. Putting your grown-up pants on will allow you to take personal responsibility. It is ultimately your responsibility anyway.

3) Most sales rep earn commissions for every dollar you contribute to your plan, somewhere along the line.

4) Costs of 403b’s are masked and evasive.

They are like sugar, printed on the nutrition facts label’s ingredient list as maltodextrin or evaporated cane juice, meant to allude you. The difference is, there is no 403b equivalent of a nutrition facts label ingredient list for expenses and fees.

5) A seemingly small expense charge of 1% over time erodes your money without the equivalent gain in earnings. It can easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars ($200,000+) in a teacher’s career from an annual contribution of $5500 over 35 years. Whose retirement are you trying to fund, your’s or your financial advisors?

6) Everyone deserves to earn a living. I value my health and I value my money. BUT, I don’t pay my doctor $200,000+ in bonuses over my 35 years of check-ups. I am willing to pay a tutor for my children, or I am willing to tutor someone else’s child for a stated fee. $50 – $400 depending on location, demand and subject matter. I’d be more than happy, ok, willing, to pay my FA $400 or $500 to help me select the best funds and check in with me yearly. What’s reasonable to you?

7) Laws governing 403b plans are NOT in place to protect you, the participant. They are currently still written to favor the institutions selling the plans in the form of profits. Think corporate interests.

8) You can ask your school district or employer to add a lower cost option to your list of options. They do exist.  Many business personnel and administrators simply do not know because their jobs require them to offer plans, not vet them.