TD Ameritrade investors should be savvier than the general public regarding financial affairs. Unfortunately, a recent TD Ameritrade poll shows a disconnect. The vast majority surveyed (96 percent) knew how much they paid for streaming video (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) while a significant minority (27 percent) knew how much their 401K plan cost. Ignorance can be bliss, but sometimes can be rather expensive, too.

Over half either thought their plan was free or didn’t know if their plan charged them or not. While all plans have expenses from the underlying mutual funds, only a tiny sliver (5 percent) don’t assess plan participants administrative and management fees. There is no free lunch. Small 401K plans simply don’t have the economies of scale compared with Fortune 500 companies thus tend to have higher costs. 403B plans offered to teachers can have burdensome expenses as well.

If you don’t know, don’t despair. While disclosure has improved digging the fees out can be onerous. Many polled didn’t know how to calculate the fee. Fear no longer, dear reader, salvation is at hand. FeeX ( has a free online tool to help evaluate fees in your 401K plan. While the tool is on the house, the catch is they have your email address. Expect solicitations for investing advice and 401K rollover pitches. My recommendation is to use their app to find out how much you pay. Then unsubscribe, it’s your choice. If the fees are too high, lobby management for lower fees. Remember, just because you don’t get a bill doesn’t mean you don’t pay. It is one helluva way to run a railroad.

Don’t focus solely on fees. Distributions from 401K plans are penalty-free at age 55 versus 59 ½ for IRAs. Health issues and job losses could make a 401K a better option than an IRA. If you get an annuity pitch for your 401K plan rollover, pretend it’s a rattlesnake.


With the current law, only estates over $22 million (couples) will face an estate tax liability. For decades, estate planners minimized and even wiped out estate tax liability via trusts. Estate planning has always been more than estate taxes. Consider trusts if you have a blended family. The opioid crisis is devastating America. Trusts can be a tool to protect the addicted and their children. Most people in South Walton moved here, if you left some property behind, talk to a lawyer.

Regardless of how much money you have, update your healthcare directives and power of attorney while you are healthy. Make sure beneficiary designations are current. Talk to adult children about your wishes. Miscommunication or lack of dialogue can cause irreversible problems. While the conversation can be difficult, it is critical.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.