Sandy set a goal to save in DCP for retirement. When she reached her goal, she was able to retire earlier than she thought.
How did you start working in public service?
I started in 1979, as a Clerk Typist 2 for what was then the Department of Fisheries. I worked in the Central Files unit. From there, I promoted to a Clerk Typist 3 position in the habitat management division. That was really fun. Then I transferred over to the Department of Agriculture, where I worked for three years in the fiscal office. I transferred to DRS in 1987. I’d been there ever since in various roles, until I retired in February.
Why did you decide to start saving with DCP?
When I started at DRS in 1987, the Deferred Compensation Program was a separate program, and someone came to talk to us about it. That talk influenced me to do it.
I could tell it was good, because they said you could start saving as little as $15 a pay period. So I did that. It was the smallest amount, because I couldn’t really afford to do any more. And I watched it build over the years. As I could, I increased it. Every time I got a raise, I pretended like I didn’t get it. I put it straight into DCP.
What questions did you have when you were signing up and how did you get answers?
I don’t really remember having a lot of questions. I remember that they explained that it was deferred, and you wouldn’t pay taxes on it until you take out the money. And so I thought, “Great! I’m deferring a portion of my income. It’ll build up over time, and I’ll have a little nest egg to supplement my retirement income.”
How did saving with DCP affect how you budgeted?
I looked at the bottom line of what I was going to get every month to live off of and what I could afford to put into DCP.
It changed over the years. There were times when I upped it, to where I was putting in a lot of money, and then things would change, and I would have to decrease it, but I never stopped my contributions completely. So I might go from the minimum to quite a bit more, and bounce back around based on what was happening in my life.
What did you think of your investment options with DCP?
I was very conservative in my investments, and I started in the Savings Pool. Over time, I started to get a little more aggressive, but I never really understood much about the stock market and how it worked. Once online account access was available, I would go and see what my investments were doing.
I didn’t lose a ton of money when the stock market took a fall either. I’ve mostly plodded along. I’d try a few other things here and there, but I was really conservative. I’m not a gambler.
What do you think of the online account access?
I love it, because I can get in there any time I want, look at things, and change things around. I could change the amount I was investing easily. I like to see what the different investments are doing. It’s wonderful.
How did DCP affect when you were able to retire?
It affected it a lot. I had a goal to get a specific amount in there by the time I retired, and I exceeded that amount. Not by a ton, but I exceeded it, so I looked at how long I’d been working, and I was one month shy of 35 years. I decided I was ready. I realized that with my retirement benefit and DCP, if I get in a bind, I can use some of that to help us out. If I decide to do some things around the house, it gives me a way to pay for it outside of my retirement income.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about starting with DCP?
I would tell people – and I have told people that aren’t investing in it – you need to start doing it now. I’ve said this to people I worked with who weren’t investing, including people who worked for the state for 35 years.
Every little bit is going to help. It’s a great program, and if I didn’t have it, I would only be getting my retirement benefit. Now I have a way to supplement that. I can leave it in there and watch it grow. I think it’s a great way to save for the future.