News Column

MyRA Proposal for Retirement Savings Focuses on Holes in Family Finances

February 18, 2014

MADISON, Wis., Feb. 18 -- The University of Wisconsin-Extension issued the following news release:

Saving for retirement is an important rung on the ladder to family financial security. To make it easier for workers without retirement options from their employers to save, the federal government is introducing a new type of retirement account known as a MyRA.

The MyRA (the name is a play on IRA, or Individual Retirement Account), has low fees, low minimums and is intended to be easy for people to set up. Policy makers hope that the new "starter" accounts will encourage more people who are not saving for retirement to begin doing so.

The fact that national policy makers are paying attention to many people's low levels of retirement savings is noteworthy for anyone thinking about their financial future, says J. Michael Collins, family financial specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and director of the UW-Madison Center for Financial Security.

Collins offers some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking about starting a retirement account, be it an IRA or a MyRA.

--Look for fees. "A key aspect of these plans is very low expense ratios," says Collins. "People may underestimate investment managers' fees. The federal Thrift Savings Plan G Fund that MyRA is modeled on charges just 0.027% in annual fund administration fees. Most funds charge ten times that--or often much more."

--Risk and return. The MyRA has a guaranteed rate of return, just above the rate of inflation. "This means no wild swings in value, but also only modest gains over time," says Collins. "There are always tradeoffs, and for some people the gains are not worth the risks. This is much less than a stock fund might provide, but it also should not decline in value."

--Plan ahead. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, fewer than 11 percent of all workers have defined benefit plans and just over half have defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k) plan in which employees have the option to enroll. "People too easily put off saving for retirement," says Collins. "MyRA still depends on a worker voluntarily signing up. Plans that are automatically enrolled have much higher participation rates. You still have to pay attention and plan ahead."

"It all starts with an understanding of the basics," says Collins. "UW-Extension offers workshops on budgeting, credit management and family finances in many county offices around the state."

To learn more about MyRA accounts, visit the U.S. Treasury website at

For more information, contact your local county Extension office. Contact information is available at

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Source: Targeted News Service

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