After sneaking the paperwork in just under the wire, I finally received confirmation that my optional 457(b) retirement account is up and running and ready to receive my contributions. Enrollment actually involved two steps – first, I had to get a signed salary reduction agreement to my employer before the end of the month. Next, I had to enroll with my vendor of choice (TIAA-CREF).
The TIAA-CREF application process itself was a bit annoying, in that I was forced to enroll over the phone, then wait for them to send me a pre-filled application packet. Unfortunately, when the packet arrived it didn’t include a list of my investment choice (not all funds are available in every plan). I tried calling TIAA-CREF for guidance, but they had unbelievable hold times in the days leading up to Tax Day, and when I finally got through I learned that my call had been mis-routed to their insurance division. The guy that answered was pretty helpful though, and suggested that I set it up such that all funds would to go into the CREF Money Market (which is available in all plans) and then tweak it myself once I had online access.
Last night I created my online login, pulled up a list of available investments, and then set up our fund allocations. Here’s what they look like:
72% CREF Equity Index (tracks the Russell 3000 Index)
18% International Equity Index (tracks the Morgan Stanley EAFE Index)
10% CREF Bond Market (tracks the Lehman Brothers U.S. Bond Index)
This mix is based loosely on the Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 holdings, which likewise have 10% in bonds, 72% in domestic stocks (albeit with more small cap representation) and 18% in international equities.