Reminder: Check your retirement (and other stock) accounts!

My sister had 12K that was just sitting in the IRA she opened in college (and thinks she contributed to a couple/few times after getting her first job) making no interest in her etrade cash– it had been sitting there in cash for TWELVE YEARS.  (Her other two stocks in that account were etrade and paypal that she bought in college.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t advise her on that– I was telling everyone my age and younger to buy QQQ!  I understood both that tech was important *and* that broad-based funds (in this case a technology ETF) are the best.  I assume that was advice from our father.)  I put in a order right off to buy Vanguard’s 2060 target date fund with that cash (we chose 2060 because she has a defined benefit pension that has vested, so she can afford to be riskier with retirement savings).  Because if you’re going to set and forget…

Then she put in another 11.5K for 2018 and 2019 and is going to follow the steps to set up a backdoor Roth even though she thinks it’s sketchy.

She also has 30% of her 401(k) portfolio invested in company stock.  She’s been meaning to sell it off for a while, but with one thing and another over a decade has passed and here we are.  She’s not sure if she’s going to sell it all on Monday (the company value is currently coming out of a low point) or if she’s going to set up automatic quarterly sales.  I recommended the quarterly sales (there’s still more of this stock coming in!), and found the number for her to call in an email the retirement provider had sent to her this year saying she had too much invested in company stock, but I also said that if that’s too hard to set up to satisfice and just sell what she’s got.

I’m not a saint either– When I checked at tax time, I had over 1K sitting in my own etrade cash account (taxable) because one of the stocks my father had bought when he was managing my stuff got bought by another company and rather than me getting the other company, I ended up with just the cash.  Which sat there for a few months because I don’t pay attention to that account.  And for some reason last quarter all our QQQ etrade accounts stopped DRIPping (maybe there was a name change again?  It looks like it has lost a Q.) — there was enough in each account to buy one share, but with a $6.95 commission, so I put the money into VFINX instead.  Luckily I do look at these accounts once a year around tax time…  Etrade’s cash account doesn’t even make reasonable interest like Vanguard’s money market fund does!

The other thing we needed to change on my sister’s IRA account was her beneficiary– she’d listed our father, but she’s fairly sure that her niblings have a higher probability of being alive when she’s gone, so now that over a decade has passed and there is a younger generation that didn’t exist when she set up the account, she switched those over too.

To sum:

  1.  Take a look at your accounts to make sure you’re still invested in what you think you’re invested in.  (I’m not even talking about something complicated like rebalancing!)  Sometimes companies merge or die or your dividends stop dripping and you end up with a bunch of cash where you thought you were getting market returns.
  2.  Make sure the people you have listed as beneficiaries are still alive and are still the people you think should be inheriting.  If you’ve had additional kids since listing a beneficiary, make sure you’re not just listing the oldest!

When was the last time you checked your stocks?  Do you know who you’ve listed as beneficiaries?

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4 Responses to “Reminder: Check your retirement (and other stock) accounts!”

  1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I check them pretty much all the time because I’m a little obsessive. I check our beneficiaries every two years. But there are a few more accounts that haven’t been dealt with under PiC’s name that I should figure out eventually.

  2. rose Says:

    YES!!!! Also verify the social security information the gov has on your earning is correct for your name and social security number……. Sometimes the government gets things confused.. even before you consider abuse/identity theft.

  3. Leigh Says:

    I’ve been checking them a bit too often because we are using some of them for the down payment on the new place. We are purposefully not reinvesting dividends at the moment because of that. Since we sold a bunch of our portfolios and moved it to cash, I rebalanced my 401(k) to be heavier in stocks. And! Vanguard Total World Stock index fund now has an admiral shares so I think we are going to use that in our joint taxable account going forward! Excited about that!

    We’ve been going through and checking all our beneficiaries and did find one that wasn’t correct recently. I finally got my husband to set up his ssa.gov account so that we could check his records. His name on his social security card wasn’t what he assumed it was, which made setting that account up difficult…

  4. Cloud Says:

    Uhhh… I should go check on my inactive fund. I rebalanced the fund I’m contributing through my current job when I increased my contributions at the beginning of the year. But the inactive one… yikes, it probably needs some attention.

    And now that I’m making full time dollars again, my husband and I should sit down and figure out our investment/saving strategy. We’ve decided we want to move some money to NZ (to stop paying so many credit card fees when we travel there, since we go so often, and the exchange rate is quite favorable right now) but I would like to have a comprehensive strategy for getting to where we want to be in ~15 years. He thinks we don’t need one: “just save as much as possible” he says. But I think how we save might actually matter….


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