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Ok guys - been thinking about this for a while and haven't come up with any great ideas, so I decided to just go ahead and throw this thread out there. I've done this at my job and figured more people could benefit from collaboration and discussion around saving for retirement.

In particular - I manage my own 401k investments. I do this via my company's 401k plan, which provides for what is called a "self-directed" account option. I can take my 401k money, transfer it to a brokerage account (mine is hosted by Ameritrade - your plan my have an agreement with a different company), and then buy and sell stocks and ETF's and other instruments within the policy of my plan. Most limitations are typical - i.e. things like you can't buy your own company's stock in your 401k, that sort of thing.

So what again have I done in other settings? Basically - organized a group of people that meet up to share ideas on investing. Everything from fundamental analysis to charting gurus to speculative approaches. Basics like asset allocation and more. There's a LOT to talk about and no specific rules you have to follow.

When I started out, I didn't know WHAT the hell I was doing. Now I've developed a core set of rules, guidelines, and processes I follow - along with some core understanding of all types of concepts that help me do a much better job today than when I started. Over time, I've developed a technique for how to determine how many stocks, the sector/industries I am invested in, the balance between the safety of my money versus the aggressiveness of the growth in my portfolio, and more.

So far taking control has been ups and downs for me - I've been doing this for about 10 years now. And since I know you guys are all about results - here's mine: My worst year so far was 2012 (NOT 2007/2008 oddly) - I managed to grow my money by only 6.88% - which isn't even as good as it sounds because that includes the money I pumped in. But 2013 was a rebound year where I managed a cool 185% growth - that's right, almost tripled my money in one year. Now bear in mind: I charted this on a calendar year and as such the 2013 gains are clearly a result of massive underperformance the year prior. 2014 saw a 49% growth, 2015 was 38%. 2016 is on track to finish somewhere between 35 and 50% so far.

To be fair to the financial and investing experts I KNOW are out there - I did this by creating a MUCH more aggressive portfolio than a formal, traditional investment adviser would recommend. But my wife and I are all about aggressive when it comes to investing. We trust the intersection of our guts, the market, expert opinion, and more. So far that has served us well. When we started combining our thoughts with the ideas of others, we felt we did even better - maybe not quite the stratospheric returns you might get with riskier investments, but still many times better than the funds in our 401k plans.

With all that said - here's a spot for us to talk about retirement saving and investments. Strategies, techniques, methodologies, and more - who's actively working their retirement savings program? Post up ANYTHING you want that you think might help someone else. If you are limited to only funds your company's 401k program allows, or maybe you own your own business and want to share ideas about how you are saving for retirement, sheltering savings from taxation, and more - here's the place to post a question, read a great idea someone else has, or ask if your current game is right or not.

So let's get rolling with some intros - just like we might do for cars:

-Who are ya?

-What are your goals, aspirations?

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks?

-What's your situation/budget?

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work?

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?

And if you are looking for an investing thread beyond 401k and retirement - no worries. I figured the needs of retirement savings are unique and deserve their own thread. We'll cover non-retirement investing in a separate thread (if this one doesn't crash and burn!)

Alright everyone - whose up first?
 

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-Who are ya?
Mike, A 38 year old engineer with a wife and one kid.

-What are your goals, aspirations?
To retire at ~60 with the same or higher income I have working.

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks?
I'm a safe investor. I've only been "gambling" once in my life and as soon as I was up $50 I quit for life.

-What's your situation/budget?
All of my current contributions are through my job. I have a 401 plan with company match and a pension that basically works as an employer funded 401k (defined contribution plan).

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work?
Worked - I rolled over my 401K from a previous job into a roth IRA. I had some tax burden at the end of the year from it, but basically turned $X before tax funds into $X after tax funds. In effect I increased the amount of money and only had to pay taxes at my current rate.
Didn't work - I pulled out money when I left a job 12 years ago, not a lot of money but it was a mistake.

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?
Do something for retirement no matter what age you are. Live within your means.

I don't have much to contribute here. I'm here to learn. I don't think I have the option to manage my 401K or IRA, but I've never looked very hard at either. My 401k is currently with Prudential. I recently put together a bit of a financial plan.
 

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-Who are ya?
Austin - a 32yr old sales guy with a wife and 2 kids

-What are your goals, aspirations?
Retire by 55 and be able to live comfortably, vacation plenty, and have some toys

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks?
I'm high risk, high reward as an investor - when I get into my 40's that may start to scale back but for now, I'm making up for lost time

-What's your situation/budget?
I max my 401k out annually and get a small contribution from my employer (3%)

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work?
I've let my companies asset manager structure it and got nothing, I've let the online tool auto-set it, and got nothing, and I've played around a bit with it and gotten a little but I still know nada

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?
Start as young as possible - if I had started contributing when I first started working at 15 then I'd be infinitely further ahead then I currently am.
 

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-What are your goals, aspirations?
Race cars and bang 10s.


-What's your situation/budget?
Mostly broke, but no debt, at least.

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work?
Tried racing motorcycles as a cheaper alternative to cars. Now it hurts to get out of bed. My future medical bills will surely wipe out any amount I saved.

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?
Swear off all things automotive, especially motorsports. Find a hobby that can potentially earn you money or is at least cheap, as opposed to one that is a complete black hole for cash. Developing a severe drug habit would probably provide better entertainment, save you money over the long term.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Mike - couple of questions...just to keep the conversation going:

How much do you put into your 401k? Do you stop when your match does or do you try to hit the federal limit of $17,500 or whatever it is this year?

You said you put together a bit of a plan. How did you do that? What sort of things are in your plan? Did you do it yourself or did you find an advisor?

Me: I max out whatever the IRS will allow me to put into a 401k. I usually end up at the very top of the federal tax rate - around 40%. So tax-free deferrals are a big gain even without my company match. My wife does the same with hers. So we can put away the $35k or so pre-tax plus our company match amts. So somewhere between $45 and $50k per year.

What else? Oh - a couple more nuggets:

Mint.com is a great website for tracking and planning. It's not everything to all people but it will help you get a better handle on things.

What other tools do you guys use? I have an array of them but I started with a set of spreadsheets with models charts and projections to kinda see where I've been and where I'm going...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Race cars and bang 10s.



Mostly broke, but no debt, at least.


Tried racing motorcycles as a cheaper alternative to cars. Now it hurts to get out of bed. My future medical bills will surely wipe out any amount I saved.


Swear off all things automotive, especially motorsports. Find a hobby that can potentially earn you money or is at least cheap, as opposed to one that is a complete black hole for cash. Developing a severe drug habit would probably provide better entertainment, save you money over the long term.
Reminds me of the old joke:

"Can you become a millionaire racing cars?"

"Yes - but only if you start off a billionaire..."

Man Wrecked...you ARE a wreck aren't ya? That said - you've got some hard won lessons under your belt.

"Bang 10's" - I assume you don't mean make 10 second passes! Just remember - the only PROVEN aphrodisiac is CASH....that's motivation eh?
 

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-Who are ya?
Noel, 44, single no kids, an accountant so by nature, I'm conservative. Also, since my family immigrated from Mexico without any money, I tend to save money and hold rather than invest it and I need to break that mentality.

-What are your goals, aspirations?
To retire at ~60 with the same or higher income I have now. Travel the world and have some toys. Goal is to have $2M in retirement... not sure if that's enough though.

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks?
Not really.

-What's your situation/budget?
I have an IRA & Roth IRA that are from previous employer 401k plans that I can invest in anything I want - currently just mutual funds. My mutual funds are in various categories - energy (oil), mid caps, blue chips, technology, healthcare, international and growth and income. I'm currently maxing out my company 401K plan with a similar fund mix except energy, international and healthcare. Returns have been ok... 6-8% not including dividend/income reinvestment, otherwise it's 19-24% over the last 5-6 years. I also have a brokerage account that I "play" with. I mostly buy and hold, reinvest dividends but I have sold some stocks recently that had good gains. I have managed some 200-300% returns on picking some stocks in 2008/2009.

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work?
Increase 401k contributions yearly by 1%. You paycheck doesn't take a huge hit and you won't miss that money.
Trying to chase returns hasn't worked for me.

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?
Start as early as possible.
Be disciplined and resist knee-jerk reactions.
If you get a raise, increase your contribution a few %. You won't miss the money and your 401k balance will increase faster.

Like Mike, I don't have much to contribute here. I'm here to learn. I have a decent fund selection in my company 401k (John Hancock) but it's not self directed.
 

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Mike - couple of questions...just to keep the conversation going:

How much do you put into your 401k? Do you stop when your match does or do you try to hit the federal limit of $17,500 or whatever it is this year?

You said you put together a bit of a plan. How did you do that? What sort of things are in your plan? Did you do it yourself or did you find an advisor?

Me: I max out whatever the IRS will allow me to put into a 401k. I usually end up at the very top of the federal tax rate - around 40%. So tax-free deferrals are a big gain even without my company match. My wife does the same with hers. So we can put away the $35k or so pre-tax plus our company match amts. So somewhere between $45 and $50k per year.

What else? Oh - a couple more nuggets:

Mint.com is a great website for tracking and planning. It's not everything to all people but it will help you get a better handle on things.

What other tools do you guys use? I have an array of them but I started with a set of spreadsheets with models charts and projections to kinda see where I've been and where I'm going...
I had the plan typed out but deleted it. A few things: I refinanced my house recently down to 15 years from 22 years remaining. That puts me mortgage free when the kid goes to college, so we can pay for that for her. We are mostly debt free otherwise and have a savings plan for cars and expenses to keep us that way. I also put together a big spreadsheet with current retirement balance and contributions throughout the years. It's very generic with minimum amounts I think I'll contribute and a basic 4% rate of return.

As far as the investment plan, I went with one of the basic x years plans from prudential. It was whatever decade I plan to retire. I should probably revisit that soon and see what options are there. I felt like it was doing good lately at 6.8% until I see your getting double digits. I can't think of any time in the recent past where I got better than 5% for a quarter.

My 457 plan I only contribute up to what my employer matches, 3% by 100%. The defined benefit is completely funded by my employer and is usually 11-12%. So combined 3% of my money, 3% match and another 11% = 17%. I understand I could go higher by maxing out the 457 and put the 11% on top of that, but I'll be in a good place as is. As my salary increases I'll contribute more. My wife is a stay at home mom, so we are still working in a tight budget. We do well, but we have to be mindful of expenses . When it comes to her staying at home vs. me putting another 10% in the 401k, she stays at home.
 

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-Who are ya? Patrick B, 26 year old about to be married and no kids, recently graduated college and working as Process Piping designer. Total newb in the investment and 401K world.

-What are your goals, aspirations? Have a very comfortable amount in my 401K by 40-50, retire and ASAP buy a McLaren 675LT :cool:

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks? No, my guess is that since im young i can go with a more aggressive investment scheme.

-What's your situation/budget? Currently i have a 401k with 5-7k in it from a previous job that has just been sitting. Haven't rolled it over to my current job, which i know i should have ASAP.

-What have you tried that worked or didn't work? Don't really know, haven't ever really looked at my investments since the day i started them.

-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you? No clue
 

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401k pshhh. I'm cashing it out to pay off my car and life for free for a year. Pimpin ain't easy!
Buy gold!

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 

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-Who are ya?
Russell 29Yr old Sales Manager.

-What are your goals, aspirations?
Goals pay off my house in 15yrs. 13yrs to go.

-Do you need a "Warranty" on your investments or can you go for more power and deal with it if something breaks?
Always need more power in the v. It's a terrible investment, and it breaks every time I drive it.

-What's your situation/budget?
Situation/budget, out the window, Spent our life savings remodeling our house so we would have a super cheap mortgage.
Have not started a 401k yet but I need to.


-What advice or recommendations do you have for someone coming behind you?
Leave this forum before it's to late.

And if you are looking for an investing thread beyond 401k and retirement - no worries. I figured the needs of retirement savings are unique and deserve their own thread. We'll cover non-retirement investing in a separate thread (if this one doesn't crash and burn!)
...
 

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