In a recent post, I provided some practical tips for setting financial goals. Let’s be honest, setting goals is hard. And actually putting together a plan (and carrying it out!) to reach your goals is even more difficult. But to further complicate things, what happens when you identify goals that seem to be in direct competition with one another? “Should I save for retirement or pay down debt?” This is a question I frequently receiveRead More
For many teachers, summers provide a break from the late nights, stressful days, and countless hours of planning. They’re a time to travel to a favorite vacation spot, finally tackle that project around the house, or maybe even work a part-time job for extra income. However, summers may also be used as a time to “get ahead.” Here are three things STRS Ohio members may wish to consider as the summer months approach. 1. IncreaseRead More
If you’re a mid-career member of STRS Ohio, with five (5) to twenty-five (25) years of service credit, you may be wondering what opportunities you have to plan for your future. After all, most decisions related to your STRS benefits were made as a new member. While the decisions you have to make regarding your STRS benefits may be minimal, there are some important STRS milestones to keep in mind and financial planning opportunities existRead More
Most people think that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates the investment markets and providers of investment advice, and that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulates the Wall Street sales agents. But in fact, when it comes to your retirement plan, like a 403(b) account, the chief regulator is actually the United States Department of Labor.  Anybody who provides advice to these plans has to meet standards generally defined in the 1975 lawRead More
A 529 account is a common way of saving for future college expenses due to the tax benefits the account may provide. In my experience, I’ve found many people have a basic understanding of why saving to a 529 may be a good idea if paying for college expenses is a goal. However, what I’ve also realized is many people are unaware of their options when establishing 529 accounts. The purpose of this post isRead More
While I couldn’t possibly cover all the ins and outs of 403(b) plans in one post, my goal is to provide answers to some frequently asked questions I receive from STRS Ohio Members regarding 403(b)s. What is a 403(b)? A 403(b) is a tax-deferred retirement savings account available to most members of STRS Ohio. 403(b)s are separate from the three retirement plan options offered by STRS Ohio (i.e. Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution, and Combined), butRead More
As a new member of STRS Ohio, there is a lot you should know! You have access to many resources online at, and will (or already have) receive a lot of information regarding plan options, election deadlines, and online registration, amongst other things. The purpose of this article is to help you sort through a few of your options so you may devote the majority of your time towards job-related responsibilities. Online Registration OneRead More
The partial lump-sum option plan of payment (PLOP) may be a very valuable option to members of STRS Ohio at retirement. STRS Ohio PLOP enables retirees to receive six (6) to thirty-six (36) months of their single life annuity benefit in a lump sum. This lump sum may be rolled over to a retirement plan such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or the member may receive the lump sum directly. Careful consideration should beRead More
Nearly a year ago, thoughts of becoming self-employed were about to become a reality. What  began with brief comments to my wife led to subsequent discussions followed by countless hours, spreadsheets, and sleepless nights mapping out a business plan. As a financial planner, I take great pride in putting together a road map for people to follow to achieve financial independence. But this time, things were different. This time, the road map was for myRead More
Have you ever thought to yourself “I could ask this question to 5 people and get 5 completely different answers!” None of the answers would necessarily be “right” and each could be supported by another person’s viewpoint. Or, maybe none of the answers were really what you wanted to hear in the first place! I sometimes feel this is the case when I’m asked “How much life insurance should I have?” Two things I thinkRead More