September Brings A New Beginning: Retirement Plans Resolutions

BOSTON (CBS)  – At least once a year you should do a retirement plan review. Any new funds being added to the current plan? How did your mutual funds do compared to their bench mark?

Did you put everything into cash because you were sure the market was going to crash? And you missed the 10%+ return for the year so far. Markets have periodic corrections and we have not had one in quite a while. So that worry is still quite real.

As you get close to retirement take inventory as to how many retirement plans you do have. Many folks realize they fall into the category of having too many retirement plans. Not too much money, just too many plans.

What have you got and what is it invested in? List everything. While you are doing this check for any pensions you might be eligible for from previous employment. And check the beneficiaries on them. If your ex is on there you might want to change it.

What about the IRAs? Many folks have more than one IRA. Consider consolidating your IRAs into one.

The mutual fund companies make it very easy to consolidate. You may be able to download all of the paper work from the fund’s website. They will take care of the transfers for you.

Find a couple of all-weather index mutual fund such as a S&P 500 Index fund, a short duration conservative bond fund or a money market fund until we know where interest rates will go, a mid-cap fund, a small cap fund, consider adding an international fund and transfer everything into them.

If you really love your current mutual funds you may be able to move them in kind. Some mutual fund companies like Fidelity will allow you to transfer the funds in the old IRA to a new Fidelity IRA.

And when it comes time to begin mandatory withdrawals at age 70½ you will be very happy to be dealing with just one company and one account.

One more thing: I would recommend moving your employer retirement plan into an IRA when you retire. You will have many more investment choices and ease of withdrawing money in retirement.

Be careful with your 403(b) plans though. Some are set up as annuities and you may not be able to transfer all of the money into an IRA without paying a penalty.

457 plans require a bit more planning as well in that you can access the money before you are age 59½ if you leave your current job. But if you roll the 457 into an IRA it then takes on the rules of the IRA and you cannot access the money until age 59½ without a penalty.

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