What Is the Best Way
to Get Started?
Participating in your district’s 403(b) or 457 plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are four simple steps to get started.
1. Contact your district:
- Request a copy of your district’s 403(b) plan document and/or 457 plan information including a summary of the plan provisions such as loans, transfers, exchanges and any fees.
- Ask for enrollment forms and any associated paperwork.
2. Review the vendors and products:
- Determine what type of investor you are (conservative, moderate or aggressive), and think about the type of 403(b) or 457 product that makes sense for you.
- Determine whether you want to use a commissioned sales representative through an insurance company or invest directly through an investment custodial account.
- Review the three basic types of products to choose from: fixed annuity, variable annuity and mutual fund.
- Decide whether you are going to invest in a fixed or variable annuity, or directly in mutual funds through
- Be sure to compare performance, fees and expenses, as well as whether the investment suits your goals, timeline and risk tolerance at
3. Decide how much to save:
- What is your time horizon? This is the amount of time you have to save before retiring.
- Figure out how much you can contribute from each paycheck and remember that compound interest earnings grow tax-free.
4. Sign up:
- Complete and submit a salary reduction form with the amount you want to contribute.
- Complete and submit enrollment forms indicating the investments you want in your plan.
CTAinvest.org Can Help!
Need help with your 403(b)? Have
questions about investing and
retirement planning? CTAinvest.org
has answers. For help in
understanding the different types of
investments available in 403(b) plans
and choosing those appropriate
for you, visit CTAinvest.org, CTA’s
investment education website. The
site offers a wealth of retirement
planning and investment education
information, and no log-in is required.
You can also order printed copies
or download PDF files of two helpful
publications, “Closing the Gap:
Supplementing Your Pension with a
403(b) or 457 Plan” and “Selecting a
403(b)/457 Advisor & Understanding
Plan Fees.” Both of these
publications were developed by CTA
to help educators make informed
choices about their retirement
- Use Getting Started to help you
get started with your 403(b) or
- Create an online Personalized
Checklist to keep track of what
you need to do to stay on course
- Read the articles
- View Videos:
Why Participate in a 403(b) or
A look at Fixed Annuities
Comparing 403(b) and 457 Plans