Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

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Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by Sarogar »

My current situation:
Living in Northeast USA.
47 year old, married, one child not started college yet. Wife does not work.
Expenses for utilities, loan, property tax, insurance, food and other things that come up averages around $5500/month
Gross annual salary - $95000

Assets:
Own my house outright, current market value of approx $700000. I would consider downsizing.
TIAA 403b with $14000, they don't seem to offer an index fund, I have it in their "aggressive" funds.
Vanguard Roth IRA with $17000, all in VTSAX
Vanguard Brokerage account with $5000, all in VTSAX
Regular savings accounts $380000

Debt:
Car loan approx $17000 remaining at 3.1%

My question - What is the best option for investing my savings so that I can pay for my kids college and have enough to retire around 60. Is just putting into VTSAX the way to go?

I don't mind being a aggressive since I feel I am behind, I will probably balance with bonds (VBTLX) once I get closer to retirement.

Currently reading The Bogleheads Guide to Investing and just finished The Simple Path to Wealth by Collins
Thanks for reading and the input!
sailaway
Posts: 3348
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by sailaway »

In your case, probably one of the best things you could do for your child's college expenses is to make sure you understand what funding might be available if you can minimize your income by maxing out your 403b and your and your spouse's traditional IRAs.

As to whether or not VTSAX is a good choice, how long until "not yet started college" actually does start college? Do you expect them to get loans? Are they looking at places that will provide funding for someone of your income level?

Why do you feel that you are behind? Have you worked out your expected retirement income with pension and/or social security? That is, will you require these savings for your general living expenses or will they be a buffer while your pension/SS cover your expenses?
JD2775
Posts: 943
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:47 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by JD2775 »

35K invested and 380k in savings? I would for sure invest a lot (most?) of that savings, unless you need it for something specific. It's not doing you any good in a savings account. Keep 3-6 months expenses and invest the rest, IMO.

Good news is you have a $700k paid for house, that is great for your situation and helps balance a little bit the lack of significant retirement savings.

EDIT: I didn't read down far enough, I see you are trying to figure out how to invest that 380k. Good to see.
delamer
Posts: 11822
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by delamer »

You may think you are OK being aggressive, but eventually we’ll have a significant stock market downturn where you’ll lose 25% or more of your stock value.

How will you react if your portfolio drops by that much? Many people panicked and sold during the Great Recession.

Most of us are better off with some bonds/cash in our retirement portfolio. That’s particularly true for you if all that cash you hold is money that you saved but were uncomfortable investing.

Here’s a chart that’ll show you the tradeoffs: https://investor.vanguard.com/investing ... allocation

How much are you saving a year toward retirement and college?
One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not. | | Alexandre Dumas, fils
wetgear
Posts: 369
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by wetgear »

I think even more important than your investment choices is that you start maximizing your contributions to your TIAA 403b $19,500/year and both you and your spouses IRAs 6k/person/year. Try to get there by reducing spending ($5500/month is a lot for a 3 person family without a mortgage) but if that isn't enough draw down your savings account funds to pay your bills while maxing your contributions. Pay the car off tomorrow too, it's less than 5% of your savings and it's a guaranteed return of 3.1% + your tax rate as you use after tax dollars to pay it. If folks here could get a guaranteed 3.1% return on an investment today they'd be breaking their piggy banks to put money into it.
smectym
Posts: 902
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 5:07 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by smectym »

delamer wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:43 pm You may think you are OK being aggressive, but eventually we’ll have a significant stock market downturn where you’ll lose 25% or more of your stock value.

How will you react if your portfolio drops by that much? Many people panicked and sold during the Great Recession.

Most of us are better off with some bonds/cash in our retirement portfolio. That’s particularly true for you if all that cash you hold is money that you saved but were uncomfortable investing.

Here’s a chart that’ll show you the tradeoffs: https://investor.vanguard.com/investing ... allocation

How much are you saving a year toward retirement and college?
Must agree w delamer, everyone is *OK with aggressive* until the market turns aggressively down and wipes out the portfolio. Yes, some bonds and some cash still have a place in the portfolio even at today’s Fed-engineered zero rates. Also consider stable-value assets such as I bonds.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-bonds-th ... 1622213324
dogagility
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:41 am

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by dogagility »

Welcome to the forum!
Sarogar wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:52 pm My current situation:
Living in Northeast USA.
47 year old, married, one child not started college yet. Wife does not work.
Expenses for utilities, loan, property tax, insurance, food and other things that come up averages around $5500/month
Reducing expenses, if possible, is a great way to have the ability to save more for retirement.
Gross annual salary - $95000

Assets:
Own my house outright, current market value of approx $700000. I would consider downsizing.
TIAA 403b with $14000, they don't seem to offer an index fund, I have it in their "aggressive" funds.
What funds are available in the 403b and what are the expense ratios?
Vanguard Roth IRA with $17000, all in VTSAX
Keep this invested all in VTSAX to maximize tax-free growth.
Vanguard Brokerage account with $5000, all in VTSAX
Regular savings accounts $380000

Debt:
Car loan approx $17000 remaining at 3.1%
Pay this off with money from your savings account. In the future, purchase cars with cash.

My question - What is the best option for investing my savings so that I can pay for my kids college and have enough to retire around 60. Is just putting into VTSAX the way to go?
How many years until your kid goes to college? You should also determine how much expenses are likely to be by using the Net Price Calculators at a few different colleges. Does your state give a tax break for 529 contributions? If so, this is a good reason to invest in a 529.

If you are OK with the volatility of the stock market and won't panic sell, then investing only in equities is fine. However, even one panic sell at the depths of a large market decrease will have a large effect on your portfolio. So, if you choose to be all equities, then you need to be sure not to sell when the market collapses.

As you approach retirement withdrawals, you should consider investing a significant portion of your portfolio is more stable, fixed income vehicles like bond index funds.

In any event, maximize your 403b, your IRA and your spousal IRA contributions each year. Do you have access to an HSA? If so, maximize that account each year too and treat it like a retirement account... pay all medical expenses out of pocket.


I don't mind being a aggressive since I feel I am behind, I will probably balance with bonds (VBTLX) once I get closer to retirement.

Currently reading The Bogleheads Guide to Investing and just finished The Simple Path to Wealth by Collins
Thanks for reading and the input!
The more flexibility you have the less you need to know what happens next. -- Morgan Housel
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by Sarogar »

[Thread merged into here --admin LadyGeek]

I have a 403b with TIAA-CREF
Below are the available investments I have to choose from. The % is what I currently have set.
Are these the best choices and percentages? I appreciate the advice

looking to retire in 15 years.

QCBMRX - Bond Market R1
QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1
QCGLRX - Global Equities Account R1 (39.21%)
QCGRRX - Growth Account R1
QCILRX - Inflation Linked Bond Account R1 (2.9%)
QCMMRX - Money Market Account R1
QCSCRX - Social Choice Account R1 (7.93%)
QCSTRX - Stock Account R1 (37.17%)
QREARX - Real Estate Account (7.91%)
TIAA Traditional Annuity (4.87%)
MathWizard
Posts: 4914
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by MathWizard »

Sarogar wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:44 pm I have a 403b with TIAA-CREF
Below are the available investments I have to choose from. The % is what I currently have set.
Are these the best choices and percentages? I appreciate the advice

looking to retire in 15 years.

QCBMRX - Bond Market R1
QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1
QCGLRX - Global Equities Account R1 (39.21%)
QCGRRX - Growth Account R1
QCILRX - Inflation Linked Bond Account R1 (2.9%)
QCMMRX - Money Market Account R1
QCSCRX - Social Choice Account R1 (7.93%)
QCSTRX - Stock Account R1 (37.17%)
QREARX - Real Estate Account (7.91%)
TIAA Traditional Annuity (4.87%)
First make sure this is R1 not R3. R1 is for institutions which have a total of
less than 20 Million with CREF.

From the latest I could find on this:

on page 8 of
https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/cref_prospectus.pdf

summarizing for the equity index fund:

ESTIMATED ANNUAL EXPENSE DEDUCTIONS FROM NET ASSETS
(as a percentage of average net assets)

Equity Index Account
... Total actual expense ratio.
Class R1 0.610
Class R2 0.335
Class R3 0.225

As you can see, the R1 costs are much more that R3.

The equities index account benchmark is the Russell 3000 index.

Though R3 expenses are not horrible, if you have the ability in your 403b to get to admiral
or institutional funds of Vanguard for either the SP500 or total stock market (VFIAX or VTSAX)
you should get ERs which are under a quarter of even R3.

My wife and I had IRA at TIAA-CREF. I switched to Vanguard when these classes came into existence.
since they were all R1.
My wife switched when she saw my IRA had a gain, and her equity index had a loss, and the difference
was exactly the difference in ERs.
tibbitts
Posts: 14297
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by tibbitts »

Sarogar wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:44 pm I have a 403b with TIAA-CREF
Below are the available investments I have to choose from. The % is what I currently have set.
Are these the best choices and percentages? I appreciate the advice

looking to retire in 15 years.

QCBMRX - Bond Market R1
QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1
QCGLRX - Global Equities Account R1 (39.21%)
QCGRRX - Growth Account R1
QCILRX - Inflation Linked Bond Account R1 (2.9%)
QCMMRX - Money Market Account R1
QCSCRX - Social Choice Account R1 (7.93%)
QCSTRX - Stock Account R1 (37.17%)
QREARX - Real Estate Account (7.91%)
TIAA Traditional Annuity (4.87%)
Nobody can answer without knowing your other investments and more about your finances generally. Those options were similar to my TIAA employer options, and the (R1) expense ratios were relatively high due to it being a very small employer. I only used the Real Estate and Traditional in my account, where there is no penalty for having a smaller employer, at least not that I know of.
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jjustice
Posts: 530
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Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by jjustice »

For what it is worth, for the past quarter century my wife and I have confined our TIAA retirement accounts to just the last three annuity accounts in your list. CREF Stock is 30% foreign, which seems to be enough so we don't use Global Equities. The TIAA real estate account dipped a little during the pandemic, but it has been going gangbusters lately. We have always been comfortable with it. It's a bit like a private equity fund--but with a great annuity option. The TIAA Traditional annuity is probably superior to all of their bond funds, so we use it exclusively. Social Choice is a balanced account, but we have balanced with the other three accounts.

Our current allocation, but others will reasonably differ, is 45% CREF Stock, 40% Traditional, and 15% TIAA Real Estate. You can allocate to suit your own needs and taste. We rebalance to this allocation.

Actually, much of mine is now annuitized and all hers will be soon, so rebalancing is becoming less significant.

John
crefwatch
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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:07 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by crefwatch »

Do you have a lot of other investments we should know about? If you have lot of stocks in two IRAs, for example, TIAA Traditional might look better for a fixed-income component, one with zero interest-rate risk.

Most people with a 403(b) can't move their money (I mean, to Vanguard, for instance) while they are still working at the employer. Does the employer offer any other provider than TIAA? I know it's 15 years off, but have you got any clue about whether you might need to annuitize your retirement money in order to have enough income when you retire? It's important because TIAA is one of the few non-predatory providers of retirement annuities.

It would be worth finding out what the Guaranteed interest rate in TIAA Traditional is. Or you could tell us if it is an RA, GRA, GSRA, RC, or RCP "type" of TIAA plan. That's a mouthful, but that's the way TIAA is, unfortunately. As noted, the R1-R2-R3 class is important too.

All of my retirement money is at TIAA, but I no longer recommend that to people who are starting their careers with other options. I don't expect to ever annuitize, but I opened a brokerage window to have better options that a list not unlike the one you posted.
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ruralavalon
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Location: Illinois

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by ruralavalon »

Welcome to the forum :D .

For some general principles of investing see: "Bogleheads® investment philosophy", link.

Some additional information will be necessary, please see my questions below.


Regular savings accounts $380000

Debt:
Car loan approx $17000 remaining at 3.1%
Use some of the savings to pay off the car loan.

Invest a substantial portion of your $380k savings in your taxable brokerage account at Vanguard.

It is important to make full use of available tax-advantaged accounts. "The most important rule for tax efficiency is to take full advantage of tax-advantaged accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs."

In selecting funds to use strive for a combination of both broad diversification (to reduce risk) and low expense ratios (to increase your net returns).

Make maximum annual employee contributions ($19.k) to your employer's 403b plan with TIAA-CREF, link. An employer match or contribution does not count toward that employee maximum, it's extra. In your employer's 403b plan use:
1) QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1 (Russell 3000 index); and
2) one of the fixed income accounts.


Make maximum annual contributions to your Roth IRA and a Roth IRA for your wife ($6k each). In the two Roth IRAs at Vanguard continue to use Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) ER 0.04%.

Establishing a high rate of contributions is the most important investing decision you can make. Forum discussion, link.

Here are calculators you can use to assess the range of possible outcomes at different levels of contributions:
1) www.firecalc.com; and
2) www.i-orp.com.

In the taxable account continue to use Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) ER 0.04%.

What is your desired asset allocation? Do you desire an allocation to international stocks?

What is your tax bracket, both federal and state?

Will you be eligible for both a significant pension and Social Security benefits?

About how much (in dollars) do you believe that you might be able to contribute annually to investing (total, all accounts)?

What are the ages of your children?

Does your employer also offer a 457b plan?

Please simply add this to your original post using the edit button, (the pencil icon near the upper right corner of your post), it helps a lot if all of your information is in one place.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started
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LadyGeek
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Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by LadyGeek »

Sarogar - In order to give appropriate advice, it's best to keep all the info in one spot. I merged your update back into the original thread. If you have any questions, ask them here.

(Thanks to the member who reported the post and provided a link to this thread.)
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by Sarogar »

MathWizard wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 1:09 pm
Sarogar wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:44 pm I have a 403b with TIAA-CREF
Below are the available investments I have to choose from. The % is what I currently have set.
Are these the best choices and percentages? I appreciate the advice

looking to retire in 15 years.

QCBMRX - Bond Market R1
QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1
QCGLRX - Global Equities Account R1 (39.21%)
QCGRRX - Growth Account R1
QCILRX - Inflation Linked Bond Account R1 (2.9%)
QCMMRX - Money Market Account R1
QCSCRX - Social Choice Account R1 (7.93%)
QCSTRX - Stock Account R1 (37.17%)
QREARX - Real Estate Account (7.91%)
TIAA Traditional Annuity (4.87%)
First make sure this is R1 not R3. R1 is for institutions which have a total of
less than 20 Million with CREF.

From the latest I could find on this:

on page 8 of
https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/cref_prospectus.pdf

summarizing for the equity index fund:

ESTIMATED ANNUAL EXPENSE DEDUCTIONS FROM NET ASSETS
(as a percentage of average net assets)

Equity Index Account
... Total actual expense ratio.
Class R1 0.610
Class R2 0.335
Class R3 0.225

As you can see, the R1 costs are much more that R3.

The equities index account benchmark is the Russell 3000 index.

Though R3 expenses are not horrible, if you have the ability in your 403b to get to admiral
or institutional funds of Vanguard for either the SP500 or total stock market (VFIAX or VTSAX)
you should get ERs which are under a quarter of even R3.

My wife and I had IRA at TIAA-CREF. I switched to Vanguard when these classes came into existence.
since they were all R1.
My wife switched when she saw my IRA had a gain, and her equity index had a loss, and the difference
was exactly the difference in ERs.
Thank you for the response.
Unfortunately the funds are all R1, I don't see a way to change this to R3 and it may not be possible, my employer is small.
I may move a portion to the Equities Index fund, need to do more homework on this.
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by Sarogar »

jjustice wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 1:46 pm For what it is worth, for the past quarter century my wife and I have confined our TIAA retirement accounts to just the last three annuity accounts in your list. CREF Stock is 30% foreign, which seems to be enough so we don't use Global Equities. The TIAA real estate account dipped a little during the pandemic, but it has been going gangbusters lately. We have always been comfortable with it. It's a bit like a private equity fund--but with a great annuity option. The TIAA Traditional annuity is probably superior to all of their bond funds, so we use it exclusively. Social Choice is a balanced account, but we have balanced with the other three accounts.

Our current allocation, but others will reasonably differ, is 45% CREF Stock, 40% Traditional, and 15% TIAA Real Estate. You can allocate to suit your own needs and taste. We rebalance to this allocation.

Actually, much of mine is now annuitized and all hers will be soon, so rebalancing is becoming less significant.

John
Thanks for the reply, this is helpful :)
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Re: 403(b) TIAA CREF selections

Post by Sarogar »

crefwatch wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 2:49 pm Do you have a lot of other investments we should know about? If you have lot of stocks in two IRAs, for example, TIAA Traditional might look better for a fixed-income component, one with zero interest-rate risk.

Most people with a 403(b) can't move their money (I mean, to Vanguard, for instance) while they are still working at the employer. Does the employer offer any other provider than TIAA? I know it's 15 years off, but have you got any clue about whether you might need to annuitize your retirement money in order to have enough income when you retire? It's important because TIAA is one of the few non-predatory providers of retirement annuities.

It would be worth finding out what the Guaranteed interest rate in TIAA Traditional is. Or you could tell us if it is an RA, GRA, GSRA, RC, or RCP "type" of TIAA plan. That's a mouthful, but that's the way TIAA is, unfortunately. As noted, the R1-R2-R3 class is important too.

All of my retirement money is at TIAA, but I no longer recommend that to people who are starting their careers with other options. I don't expect to ever annuitize, but I opened a brokerage window to have better options that a list not unlike the one you posted.

Thanks for the response and apologies for my late reply.

The TIAA traditional guaranteed rate is 3.0%, I'm not sure if this is good or not...all the funds are R1, my employer is small.

I expect to leave this employer sometime within the next year and roll this account into an IRA. Hopefully the next company will use Vanguard
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by Sarogar »

ruralavalon wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 4:58 pm Welcome to the forum :D .

For some general principles of investing see: "Bogleheads® investment philosophy", link.

Some additional information will be necessary, please see my questions below.


Regular savings accounts $380000

Debt:
Car loan approx $17000 remaining at 3.1%
Use some of the savings to pay off the car loan.

Invest a substantial portion of your $380k savings in your taxable brokerage account at Vanguard.

It is important to make full use of available tax-advantaged accounts. "The most important rule for tax efficiency is to take full advantage of tax-advantaged accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs."

In selecting funds to use strive for a combination of both broad diversification (to reduce risk) and low expense ratios (to increase your net returns).

Make maximum annual employee contributions ($19.k) to your employer's 403b plan with TIAA-CREF, link. An employer match or contribution does not count toward that employee maximum, it's extra. In your employer's 403b plan use:
1) QCEQRX - Equity Index Account R1 (Russell 3000 index); and
2) one of the fixed income accounts.


Make maximum annual contributions to your Roth IRA and a Roth IRA for your wife ($6k each). In the two Roth IRAs at Vanguard continue to use Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) ER 0.04%.

Establishing a high rate of contributions is the most important investing decision you can make. Forum discussion, link.

Here are calculators you can use to assess the range of possible outcomes at different levels of contributions:
1) www.firecalc.com; and
2) www.i-orp.com.

In the taxable account continue to use Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) ER 0.04%.

What is your desired asset allocation? Do you desire an allocation to international stocks?

What is your tax bracket, both federal and state?

Will you be eligible for both a significant pension and Social Security benefits?

About how much (in dollars) do you believe that you might be able to contribute annually to investing (total, all accounts)?

What are the ages of your children?

Does your employer also offer a 457b plan?

Please simply add this to your original post using the edit button, (the pencil icon near the upper right corner of your post), it helps a lot if all of your information is in one place.

Thanks for the detailed response.
Here is what I have done since the original posting
1. Paid off vehicle loan
2. Moved most of the $380k into Vanguard brokerage account (VTSAX) and kept some in local bank as emergency fund.
3. Reallocated the TIAA to the QCEQRX and Traditional Annuity (guaranteed rate of 3.0%)
4. Maxed the two Roth IRA accounts for this year (VTSAX)
4. Increased my 403b contribution to as much as I can afford (approx 70% of max)

Thanks for the calculators, they are great!
To answer the other question in order -

1. I am open to international stocks but not really clear if they are better than what I have, so far I feel VTSAX has the right balance of return/ER but I am open to suggestions. I do see a lot of posts about VTWAX/VT.
2. Federal tax bracket: 22%, State 5%
3. No pension and low SS benefits due to living/working overseas and not paying SS tax
4. I expect to be able to invest $15k/year for the next year or two, then probably $20k
5. Child is 13 years old
6. Employer does not offer 457

Thanks again for all of the great advice, I fell like I am in a much better position now that I was just 2 weeks ago.
Topic Author
Sarogar
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:06 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by Sarogar »

LadyGeek wrote: Mon Jun 28, 2021 5:48 pm Sarogar - In order to give appropriate advice, it's best to keep all the info in one spot. I merged your update back into the original thread. If you have any questions, ask them here.

(Thanks to the member who reported the post and provided a link to this thread.)
Thank you for your help with this!
aristotelian
Posts: 9338
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Help me decide what to do with my savings and plan for retirement

Post by aristotelian »

$380k cash is unusual. Why have you been hesitant to invest in the past and what makes you think you should change now? There is no return without risk so you should only invest money that you can afford to see lose value over time.

Whether you invest funds to pay for college depends on your child's age. If they are just a couple years away from college they should not be invested aggressively
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