Initially, my employment decision was based on the need for employment. At the time I began my employment, the state government had a reputation for job security and good benefits. I have been in the deferred compensation program for over 20 years now.
I went to a deferred compensation seminar, and the instructor's enthusiasm about saving and retirement was great. She had a way of explaining how the plan could work for anyone.
Fear and misunderstanding of how the tax shelter works and how it increases their take home now and later for retirement, is what I believe prevents other state employees from participating in deferred comp.
Pay yourself first. Whether you have it automatically deducted from your pay check or if you empty your pockets every night into a jar, just start saving something. Then, don’t touch it until you retire. As a young person I was under the illusion that you had to save millions to retire. I learned over the years that you don’t have to be rich to retire, but you do need to plan if you want to retire.