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What Does It Mean To Be Vested?

Last Sunday, I hit a major milestone at my company. I have officially been working here for 2 years. In some ways, it feels like I’m just starting but in others I feel like a seasoned veteran. This is especially true since the average job tenure of people my age is just 3 years (should I be looking for a new job already?). The anniversary date came and went without any fanfare. I didn’t get to chose an anniversary gift out of a magazine, or even receive a card from my company. I actually got something much, much better: I vested.

What is Vesting?

Vesting is a term used to describe how much of your 401k you are allowed to take with you if you leave the company. You may be thinking “Wait, I don’t get to keep my entire 401k?” Before you overreact, I want to be clear that vesting only applies to the portion that your company contributes. If you invest $5,000 in your 401k, and your company contributes $1,000, vesting only applies to the $1,000. You get to keep your $5,000 plus whatever you’ve earned in the market when you leave. read more

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What is a Target Date Fund

My sister recently graduated from graduate school and for the first time in her life has had a full-time job with a steady paycheck and benefits. Last weekend, she asked for my help because she gets a 401k but she didn’t have any idea of how to invest it. After setting up her account and reviewing what her investment options were, I thought that the best option was to sign her up for a target date fund. Specifically, Vanguard’s Target Date 2060 Fund.

What is a target date index fund?

A target date index fund is an index fund that invests in a mix of stocks and bonds (domestic and international) that is designed with specific date in mind of when you will need your money. The weighting of how much is invested in each asset class is meant to grow with the stock markets when you are far away from your target date, and get more conservative as you get closer to retirement. My sister, for example, won’t hit 65 until around the year 2060, so her target date fund is heavily weighted towards stocks, with only a small percentage invested in stocks. As she gets older, the fund will gradually move to be invested more heavily in bonds to preserve capital and reduce the risk of her losing a big portion of her savings right when she needs it. read more

Evaluate your Finances Like a Financial Analyst

As you travel along your journey to financial independence, it is enticing to only focus on your net worth and reaching some goal you’ve set for yourself in the future. However, to really assess the health of your finances and ensuring the best odds of hitting your financial goals, there are other metrics as well that you should at least be monitoring. To get an idea of what metrics to look at, we head to the headquarters of assessing the financial health of organizations: Wall Street.

Financial Analysts make livings on finding the companies that are going to increase their value (also known as Net Worth) in the shortest, most stable way possible. I’m not arguing that Wall Street is any good what they do (see: Index Funds: The Gold Standard of Stock Market Investing), but we can still find the things about Wall Street that do work well and use them to our advantage. One body of research we can use is around metric. There are several basic metrics that the Financial Analysis use to assess the health and future potential of a company. By adopting those metrics slightly, we can apply them to our own finances and paint a picture of how we’re going. read more

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The 4% Rule: What Is It and Why It Matters

A popular rule of thumb for financial planners and bloggers is the 4% rule. This rule states that a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds will allow investors to withdraw 4% of their portfolio every year without any risk of running out of money. For people trying to find out what their target retirement number is, this can be a very simple, valuable tool. Simply take the amount of income you would need annually to retire (before taxes), and divide it by 4% (or multiply by 25, they equal the same thing).

Spending in Year 1 of Retirement / 4% = My Portfolio Retirement Number read more

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