State treasurer says North Carolina retirement programs are some of best in the country

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The North Carolina treasurer held a Q&A with reporters about what retirement looks like for state and local government and private employees.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell said Tuesday that becoming retirement-ready means being two words that usually don’t agree in the same sentence: conservative and liberal.

He said it means to be mindful by spending within your means but be generous with opportunities as they come in your financial future.

Margaret Butler stopped working three years ago. She’s currently on disability, but left work with no full pension or retirement fund. She says telling people to save is easier said than done because you can’t predict the cost of living years down the road.

“Cost of living has gone up, rent has gone up, food is crazy off the market. I can’t believe how much we are paying for food and gas. It’s going down a little bit but not all the way down,” Butler said. “So, you know, it’s easy to say ‘prepare.’ But just be mindful when you can do something – do it.”

Folwell explained the many successes and benefits of the pension system for local and state government employees and 401 and 457 eligible employees.

However, to enroll in one of these specific programs is not an option for everyone like commissioned-based medical salesman Dan Bacon, who was once a teacher but has changed careers more than once.

Bacon says there are private programs similar to a 401(k), but his outlook on the word “retirement” is different.

“It’s not really a word that I think of. Instead, I think of, how do I get my money to work for me,” Bacon said. “But, I think that is it important that we save more and spend less.”

According to Folwell, our pension system for state and local government employees and 401(k) and 457 programs are some of the best in the country.

MyNCRetirement reports that over 645,000 people in the state are currently contributing to pension and 401(k) funds, but only a little over 350,000 are getting payments.