September 30, 2011

Learn How to “CHECK” your 401(k)

Hey Financially Aware Friends!

This week’s Finance Friday is a Follow-Up to “What do you REALLY know about your 401(k).” I wanted to give you some info that will help in the evaluation of your 401(k) and the fees associated with your company’s plan. 

I know that even though most people use this as their first investment tool, when you get down to it a 401(k) is not the easiest thing for the everyday person to understand.  Hopefully, these questions will provide you with some understanding of what’s going on and what to look for regarding the fees associated with your plan.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are the investment options that are being offered under your 401(k) plan?
  2. Have you ever been provided all of the documentation regarding the investment choices that have been made under your company’s plan and ALL fees associated with it?
  3. What kind of investment education is provided regarding your 401(k) plan?
  4. How are the services provided under your particular 401(k) plan?
  5. What percentage of the optional services offered under your company’s 401(k) plan are being used by the participants?
  6. If there are administrative fees being paid, how are they paid?  By the plan? Your company? A combination of both?
  7. Are the investment options available based on an established market index or is there some sort of higher level of investments management service being provided?
  8. Are sales charges like loads and commissions being included in any of the investment options provided in your plan?
  9. Are any fees like surrender fees, insurance charges, or 12b-1 fees being included in any of the investment options provided in your plan? If so, what exactly do they include?
  10. Does your company’s 401(k) plan offer you any special funds or special classes of stock?


Keep in mind, these questions are only the beginning of your research.  When you invest your money for any reason – especially for the future of your retirement, you need to monitor the performance continuously.  It is your responsibility to yourself to remain informed and work with people who fully answer your questions and put your mind at ease. 



Having an actively managed retirement plan is one of the most highly recommended options – HOWEVER make sure it’s the right kind of actively managed plan.  As we Fashionable ones know, you don’t have to spend a million bucks to look like it.  In this case, again you MUST compare and contrast.  What are the net returns in relation to the investment risk?

Additionally, understand any service rendered with have a cost or fee associated with it.  But, the fees should not devour your investment!  When evaluating the fees associated with your 401(k) plan take time to compare the services you are receiving vs. the total cost.

To conclude, I found this helpful checklist that should be helpful when speaking to your plan sponsors regarding the fees associated with your plan.  (via)



Administration/Recordkeeping:
XX
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Annual Audit:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Back-End Load
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Balance Inquiry:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Brokerage Commission:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Contract Administration Charge:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Contract Termination Charge:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Distribution Expense:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Expense Ratio (Average and range):
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Front-End Load:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Installation Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Investment Transfer Expense:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Loan Maintain /Repay Tracking Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Loan Origination Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Loan Processing Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Management Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Mortality Risk, Admin (M&E Fee):
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Nondiscrimination Testing Expense:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Participant Education Expenses:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Plan Document Letter (Filing Fee):
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Product Termination Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Service Provider Termination Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Signature Ready Form 5500 Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Start-up/Enrollment Expense:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Trustee Services:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
Wrap Fee:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________
12b-1 Fees:
__
No
__
Yes
Fee__________


That’s it for this Friday’s Finance Friday segment. I hope you learned and feel a bit more financially empowered.  

Love You for Following,
G


September 29, 2011

Thrifter (still in-Training) Gone Wild!!!!!

Hey Dolls!


Ok, so if you read yesterday’s post, you read about my Thrifting Adventure on Saturday.  It was amazing to say the least.  I went to 3 places in Tampa.
  

I started out at Sunshine Thrift Store, and it was crazy.  First of all the parking situation was off the chain, people (including me) were literally sitting and waiting for a space for about 15 – 20 minutes.





I’m not sure it that is how it is everyday or because it was Saturday.  Anyhoo, when I finally was able to get a parking space I went in and it was on!!!!  I started with skirts, mainly because the section wasn't crowded and I had never purchased a thrifted skirt.  I ended up getting 5 of them! 






Next, I moved on to the blazers and I scored 4 of them!  I finally found me a hot pink one!!!!  BUT - My favorite has to be the Colorful Tweed Blazer.  It is such a beauty!  I almost gave up on it because it was petite and the arms are always to short for me in petite clothes, but I cuffed the sleeves and kept it moving!!!!  LOL!!!





Then I moved on to pants and I got 3 pair of those and then shirts I ended up finding this beautiful long sleeve yellow shirt that I adore!  The last thing I found was a cute little red clutch.  I'd  was so happy because I'd never found a clutch at the Thrift Store.  I spent a long time in there and it was well worth it.






Let me tell you I was having so much fun that I ended up calling my Fly Girl Tre and telling her to come check this store out.  She ended up getting some pretty nice things as well. Can you believe I only spent $30 on all 14 items?!?!?!
  
When I moved on to Triage, I was still on a Thrift Store high, so the price tags in there were like sticker shock LOL!!!



 

Don’t get me wrong, they have great prices for what they’re selling.  Their store was great.  It was a combination of clothing that ranged from casual to formal wear both high end and low end.  In addition to the clothes, they also have a section of furniture and home goods that are unique and reasonably priced.  


I didn’t buy anything at Triage because they were about to close so I only got to browse for like 15 minutes.  But I’m sure on my next trip, I will be making a purchase. 

Finally, I made it to Fresh Threads and I fell in Love with that store.  Ladies, if you're in Tampa, its a MUST see.  


The owner Juli was so nice and friendly and you can tell she has genuine relationships with her customer base.  She has so many unique, quality, high end pieces at a great price point.  You also have the option to place your goods up for consignment as well.  I didn't buy anything here yet either, but Tre ended up getting a nice pair of Diesel Shoes for only $30. 


I encourage you all, if you live in the Tampa Bay area or just happen to be in town for a visit, take a a trip to these stores. I think you will leave HAPPY!!!!


In addition to all that fun, I made a quick stop in the Salvation Army a few weeks ago and didn't get around to taking pictures, so I wanted to include them in this post.  Check them out below.








This should be enough Thrifting to tide me over for quite a while.  Now off to the cleaners I go!!!!  



Love You for Following,
G

September 27, 2011

Cute, Casual, Cool


Hey Dolls!

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  I certainly did.  I got out and explored another section of Tampa that I have never really had a good reason to go to until this weekend.  When I tell you I felt like I was in a different city.  I saw all kinds of cute little boutiques and eateries that I will have to try.  But there was only so much time in the day.  My first stop took so much time; I kind of had to rush through the others just to make it in time before they closed. 




I had the MOST amazing Thrifting Saturday ever (well, so far anyway)!  Earlier this year, my co-worker Dorine was admiring one of my very first Thrifting finds and I told her I found it at The Goodwill.  She shared that one of her girlfriends finds the best things at Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops here in the Tampa Bay Area.  So she gathered a list for me and I FINALLY went. It was amazing I tell you.  The place I spent the MOST time in was Sunshine Thrift Store.  This place was great!!!!  I got so many great things.  I can’t wait to show you guys.



After I left Sunshine, I made it to two more locations they were consignment shops.  The second spot was Triage Consignment Shop.  And the third stop of the day was FreshThreads, a Designer Consignment Boutique. I fell in LOVE with this place.  They have some of the nicest things at a great price!!!  The owner Juli was so nice and friendly.  I will definitely be back there!!! 


I can’t wait to show you guys my Thrift Store finds!  I have to get my pictures together.  Stay tuned!  

On to my outfit.  I have been looking for me some cute and inexpensive colored jeans since late last year.  So you know I was geeked when I found these at Marshall’s last month for $15.  Yesssssss!  I got a blue pair as well. Since I knew I would be Thrifting, I wanted to keep it comfy and casual and of course CUTE!!!!
  

I paired these jeans with a white shirt and my classic white Converse or as we call them in the Lou – CHUCKS!  Chucks NEVER go out of style. I Love them!  I added a few red and gold accents to complete my look and there you have it. 


What I’m Wearing:
Shirt:  H&M
Pants:  U-51 via Marshall’s
Shoes: Converse
Necklace: Forever 21
Bracelets:  Bakers & JoAnn’s Fabrics
Earrings:  JCPenney (OLD)
Sunnies:  Steve Madden
Ring:  Flea Market
Belt:  Target


Love You for Following,
G         



September 26, 2011

Moo Cards and Cute Things in Strange Places!

Hey Dolls!

I don’t know how many of you shop at or have an Old Time Pottery in your City.  If you aren’t fortunate enough to have an Old Time Pottery in your particular city, its heaven for knick nacks and home d├ęcor. But who knew they also had cute accessories?!?!?!  Not me, that's for sure.


Imagine my surprise when I found the cutest little necklaces and bracelets in there for the low.  I found one colorful beaded necklace and bracelet set that I have now started calling “Penny Candy”, LOL!! Isn’t it the cutest?  You can do so much with this set. 

I also found a cute set of long lavender pearls that came with some earrings. The earrings aren’t the cutest, but maybe I can re-construct them into something pretty. 



Then I also found another bracelet with black and turquoise beads and a cross. Its super cute too!  I can’t wait to rock them all, and I will definitely be checking out my Old Time Pottery on a regular basis now.



Next on the agenda are my MOO MiniCards. 


I saw these on a few other blog sites and thought they were the cutest and creative things, especially for Fashion Bloggers. I purchased the MOO MiniCards, and “mini” they are LOL!  You probably can't tell from the pictures how small they are, but TRUST me. Even though they are tiny, they are SUPER cute.  I’m kind of nervous to pass them out because they are such a non-traditional business card and they are so small!  I don’t want them to be lost due to size.



Aside from the size, I was very impressed with the quality of the cards.  The MOO people do good work! I know you can’t tell from my crappy camera, but the pictures are great quality as well as the font and lettering detail on the opposite side.  They also have a thickness to them better than the quality of a regular business card.  The package I chose was the 100 cards for $19.99.  I ended up choosing between 23 different outfits for my cards as you can tell, some looks will have more cards - obviously.  But the cool part is, you can choose to divide your 100 cards up in whatever way you like! The opposite side of the card includes my name, contact number, site URL, and email address.  I also purchased the MOO MiniCard holder so that I can stay ready at all times. I opted for pink, since they didn't have RED, LOL!!!!!


All in all I like the MOO MiniCards a lot!  But for my next order, I think I will opt for the regular sized Business Cards.  If you’re interested in ordering MOO Cards, check out the site here.  At checkout, enter QYKW6H and receive 15% off your order (1st time customers ONLY).  MOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  They’re great!  


SN:  I hope you like the new changes in my blog design.  I'm trying to keep it fresh for my wonderful followers.  I truly appreciate the LOVE and support you give What's More Important Than Fashion?

Love You for Following,
G