Our Investments: 401k, 529s, and IRAs - oh my!

Here at the NtJS ranch, it's no secret that the Mrs. handles the majority of our finances. She prepares the budget, handles most of the shopping, pays the bills, and generally keeps us heading in the right direction. Not that I'm not involved, but she is clearly the point person.

Recently, the Mrs. handed me a stack of papers. It was the latest statements for our investments. Through everything else she does, she just doesn't have the time to decode the statements, and keep on top of each account. This one she was going to defer to me.

That night, we reviewed each account and attempted to decipher each statement. And there is a lot to go through. We have my 401k, my SEP IRA (rolled from a previous job), my Roth IRA, her IRA, and 529s for both of the kids. While doing this, we made a shocking discovery that I'm still not sure if I should be happy or madder-than-smoke about.

The first pass I made in reviewing each statement was, "What is this invested in?". Which is exactly what I asked the Mrs. while reviewing her IRA statement. She wasn't sure as she had rolled her old 401k to the IRA and had told the custodian to transfer the money to the same funds.

Now to her credit, the Mrs. spent months getting this one sorted out. Our custodian's (former) assistant was dropping the ball big time, and not getting things done. In the end, we were happy just to have the money in the correct account! After that, we didn't pay much attention. Well, with that kerfuffle and the change in personnel, our request slipped though the cracks! Until last week when I asked the Mrs., "What is this invested in?".

The answer is: nothing.

For about 2 years, her IRA funds have sat 'unplugged' in a cash account. I still find it difficult to believe.

I'm mad about it because - this is a huge goof on the custodian's part. How could you let this slip and just not invest the money!?

I'm happy about it because - that sizable chunk of change missed out on that 40% hit that most funds took last year.

Since then, I've been scrambling to get on-line trading set up for the account and research mutual funds on the open market. Mutual funds are on sale right now, but many are rebounding so I don't want to waste time.

As for the other accounts, I have a handle on my 401k and am quite pleased with the funds I've selected there. The rest are invested, but appear to be in managed accounts that we don't control. That's about to change, but not until I get this IRA invested in something.

How do you manage your investments? Any tips for staying on top of all these accounts?

image from WST-Broker


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