Thursday, February 24, 2005

Getting back in control of my retirement funds

One of my major financial goals for February is to get back in control of my retirement planning. I had never really felt like I grasped anything but the very basics: 1) max the 401(k) and 2) diversify (whatever that meant) and as a result my retirement planning efforts had languished.

I have three major "chunks" of retirement savings:
  • 401(k) at a previous employer that I had stopped receiving statements for three years ago (they moved their 401k, I moved to a new address...poof)
  • Rollover IRA consisting of all B shares (to compensate a financial advisor sigh) in "socially responsible" mutual funds
  • My current 401(k), 1 year old, 100% allocated to an S&P index fund because I was rushed to choose
I had intended to consolidate everything into my current 401(k) thinking that I'd be better at managing a single account. But then I happened to hear Suze Orman recommend a rollover IRA because of the flexibility in choices available.

I also realized I wanted to allocate my current 401(k) and didn't really know how best to do that, so last week I invited a friend over who is good with finances and put her to work ;) By the end of the evening, I understood how to allocate across different types of "stock" funds and I had a burning desire to get on with my action list:
  1. Call the previous employer to get access to my 401(k) information and obtain rollover forms
  2. Open a new rollover account and initiate the 401(k) transfer
  3. Get web access to my current 401(k) to access fund research and allocation tools
The experience of really looking at these neglected accounts was eye-opening for me. They *looked* neglected. Boy did I feel silly for not doing it sooner...but I suppose I wasn't ready until now.

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