Retirement preppers sleep better

April is Financial Literacy month and spring break, and that means it’s a great time to look at your budget and set some financial goals now so you’re prepared for the future. If you’ve been thinking it’s too soon or too difficult – or too late – here’s a best kept secret: those who start planning now, no matter what life stage they’re in, have fewer worries, less anxiety and they sleep better at night.

Here are eight things you can do to be better prepared for retirement. Even if you apply only one of these, your future self will look back and thank your present self. If you’re a school employee, find out about the difference between retiring in July vs September. And be sure to see the list of webinars in April.

Automate everything

The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. Start by setting a goal for how much you would like to save each month. Then, set up a monthly transfer from your checking to your savings account. Most utility bills can be automated. You can also set up automatic payments for your credit card to avoid late fees.

Increase your DCP contribution

If you have a DCP account with the state of Washington, consider increasing your monthly contribution amount by 1 or 2 percent. For example: if you’re currently contributing 3% of your salary, bump it up to 4%. Your future self will thank you. You can use the DCP calculator to see how much your contributions could grow. A small change can make a big difference over time. Not sure how much to save? Get started with the Retirement Planner.

Estimate your retirement benefit

Even if you just started your career in public service, you can use the DRS Benefit Estimator tool to get an idea of your retirement income. This calculator will allow you to see a private preview of what your monthly income might look like. Log into your account and select ‘Benefit Estimator’ to see your estimate. Knowing how much you can expect for retirement can help you make more informed retirement plans early on in your career.

Read a finance book or listen to a money podcast

The best way to reach your money goals is to hear what other people are doing. Find an interesting book, article or podcast about money.

Did you know DRS has a podcast? Fund Your Future with DRS is a new podcast created for public employees in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Episodes are released on a regular basis and focus on easy things you can do to understand your money and improve your finances. Listen now.

Talk about your finances

Society often tells us that it’s impolite to talk about money. But in reality, asking advice or sharing money tips can open up new possibilities. Try having a conversation with your spouse, siblings, your kids, or your grandkids. Talk about what’s helped you in your financial journey and know that it’s ok not to have all the answers. The important part is that you explore the topic together.

Know where you stand

If you have any outstanding debt, take some time to know how much you owe — especially when it comes to credit cards. Write down what the APR (annual percentage rate) is for each credit card or loan. Generally, it’s a good idea to focus on paying down the debt with the highest APR first.

Track your spending

Seeing where your money is going can help you understand the big picture. Do you already have a budget? That’s great! Take a moment to review your expenses from last month and see if you want to make any changes to your purchases this month. Get started with the Voya budget calculator.

Set some financial goals

Would you like to buy a house? Go on a cruise? Pay off your debts? Set short-term and long-term goals. Then, make a plan for how you’re going to meet those goals.

Spring break webinars – getting ready to retire

If you’re thinking about retiring in the next few years, now is the perfect time to dig in and find out more. Sign up for a free webinar this April. Find specific information for your plan, including how to withdraw from your DCP savings and how to pick a benefit option.

Should I attend a webinar or a seminar?


Webinars are 30 to 60 minutes and focus on one topic. They are online so you can attend from the comfort of your own home. Some webinars focus on retirement, while others are for those who are starting their career. These live sessions generally have a smaller group and allow time for your questions.

Webinars in April

Webinar TopicDateTime
Benefit options at retirement04/09/2410:00 AM
DCP04/09/2412:00 PM
Plan 3: PERS, TRS, SERS04/09/241:30 PM
Early retirement: PERS, TRS, SERS04/09/243:00 PM
Q&A Topic: DCP04/10/2412:00 PM
Investment basics04/10/241:30 PM
If I knew then what I know now04/10/243:00 PM
Purchasing an annuity or service credit04/10/245:00 PM
Online resources04/11/249:00 AM
DCP withdrawals04/11/2410:30 AM
Q&A Topic: Roth04/11/2412:00 PM
Late career: TRS/SERS04/11/243:00 PM

DRS webinar schedule – See the full schedule.


Designed for customers who are approaching retirement, the retirement seminar is a half-day program running from 9:00 am – 1:30 pm with several breaks. Currently available online. The sessions cover everything you need to know about getting ready to retire including how to apply, what to know about social security and health care.

DRS seminar schedule – See the full schedule

Online resources

Watch this video about resources available to you on the DRS website:

<video embed Online Resources on Vimeo >

Video highlights:

3:50 How to access your online account

7:45 – Using the benefit estimator

10:15, 15:55 and 20:45 – DRS calculators

18:20 – Annuities

More resources:

Financial wellness video library from VOYA

America Saves – A nonprofit that encourages and supports low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Check out America Saves week April 8-12 at the Department of Financial Institutions.

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