I am usually very hands-off with our investments. So when I happen to open up Mr. Stapler’s Vanguard account (to facilitate a rollover from an old 403(b)), I was shocked to see that thousands of dollars were invested in a money market fund. Shocked and disappointed.
You see, I’m not the most daredevil investor, but I do like to invest our retirement funds for the long haul. I like to put our money into low-cost index funds and intend to keep them there for decades.
But when I opened up Vanguard, this is what I saw:
Huh? What on earth does that mean?
Oh. Shoot. “Short-term reserves” means a money market fund.
$9,000 of Mr. Stapler’s retirement fund was invested in a money market account. You know, those accounts that earn only slightly more than a savings account. Earning 0.4% for two years meant that he missed out on about $500 worth of growth.
How did it happen? It’s not as important as fixing the mistake. Which I did. Immediately.
My only consolation is that the markets were in a bit of a dip when I discovered the error. You know what “they” say: Buy low and sell high. Seeing as how I can’t accurately predict whether it would be higher or lower tomorrow, I switched them over right then and there.
Feeling very of-the-moment, I seized the opportunity to begin the rollover process for an old 403(b). That’s when I discovered how it happened: When rolling funds into an account, they will be deposited into a money market “settlement” account until you designate them otherwise. Thankfully, I was able to designate the VTSAX (Total Stock Market Admiral Shares) Fund for the incoming retirement assets ahead of time.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to follow up on rolling over funds and to check in every year with my portfolio — just to make sure everything is where I expect it to be.