Thursday, June 22, 2006

My super awesome The Bomb retirement plan

Right now, I have such a great retirement plan that it is not only sweet but also hot and awesome. Sometimes, I just want to sing about it. I work for a public university, which before a few years ago offered only a choice between two state-level traditional pension plans. They are, however, phenomenally well-funded pension plans. When I arrived, employees contributed (automatically) 8.5% of their pay, and the university kicked in 13% completely for free. (They're now scaling up contributions a bit, so by the end of three years employees will contribute 10% and the university kicks in 14%.) All of this contribution is offset by the fact that we don't actually pay Social Security tax. I'm not sure how they finangled that loophole but there it is. Somehow, I'm not really concerned - at 22, I can expect to get about $40 a month when I retire.

Anyhow, a few years ago the university also began offering what it calls the Alternative Retirement Plan, and what I call the Give Me The Money Retirement Plan. Basically, you just get a regular 403(b) set up with one of eight vendors (I have TIAA-CREF) and they deposit your mandatory contributions and the university's contributions there. You can also add in your own money if you want, which I am doing to the tune of $50 a month pretax, and I opened a Roth which gets $100 a month plus whatever extra money I have. So I am getting a combined $563 a month of my mandatorily-deducted money plus the university contribution, and then on top another $50 pretax and $100 post tax per month. More than $700 and it is only costing me about $130! You see now why this plan is awesome. I almost fear the day that I leave this job because I will never again find such an awesome retirement benefit (although hopefully if the next job pays me more money, I can afford it myself.)

I cannot emphasize enough how Incredibly Lucky I feel that I got this benefit. I had no idea that it was part of the package when I accepted this job - and in fact it hadn't even occurred to me that I should check out what the benefits were. The HR lady said something or other about "our great benefits" but I assumed she was talking about prescription coverage or dental insurance or something. It is hard to estimate how much of an impact getting this benefit will have on my life - but since having to learn about 403(b)s was the impetus to me diving into personal finance in general, probably quite a lot of impact.

I'm predicting that by the end of two years at this job I'll have over $14,000 in there - which will be a really great start to my money goal by 30 that I will write about later.


Mike said...

Sounds like you are working for a great college. I have two jobs at UMass Lowell right now, as you just read, but being that I am still a student I don't have the option to contribute to any plans, but I doubt UMass Lowell pays as well as your school does?

Tiredbuthappy said...

My first job out of grad school contributed 12% to my 403b. I was 25 when I started there. It was great. Employees didn't have to contribute anything (although of course I did) and you were vested right away. It made a huge difference. I was there two years, and I feel that it's really helped me get off to a good start with my retirement savings. I already had a Roth when I started there, but it only had a few thousand dollars in it.

Now, if I could only find such a sweet deal again.