Aug 7, 2023 - Business

Virginians are sweating retirement

Illustration of a middle-aged person holding their head in their hands with arrows and zigzag lines in the background.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Here's what Axios Richmond readers said when we recently asked about retirement plans.

The big picture: The responses from across the state ran the gamut from total confidence to deep uncertainty that retirement would ever be in reach.

Zoom in: Some, like Jeffery L., say they consider themselves lucky to have been able to make substantial 401(k) contributions during their working years.

  • With no debt or mortgage, the 69-year-old says his expenses have dropped considerably since he retired in 2019.
  • "Social security and the 401(k) will provide sufficient funds," he said.

Yes, but: Many are considering working or are still worrying about having enough — even those who have savings and have worked with financial planners.

What they're saying: Ajax G., a 66-year-old Richmond resident, says he has no idea when retirement will be an option, saying he never recovered from cashing out his 401(k) during the great recession.

  • "No retirement planned for at least 5-10 years and only then if I get lucky," he wrote.

Of note: Several readers told us they got on board early with the FIRE strategy, which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early and calls for extreme frugality during the working years to facilitate massive retirement savings.

  • Renee T. in Richmond told us she retired at 56 after years of living modestly and diverting as much as 40% of her income to her retirement accounts.
  • "Now I am a full-time mom to twin teenagers who still have three years of high school. I couldn't stay home with them when they were younger, but I'm with them now!"

Between the lines: Richmond was the 22nd most popular retirement destination in the country in 2021, per census data reviewed earlier this year by SmartAsset.

  • About 530 retirees moved here that year, more than any other locality in Virginia.

Go deeper: Retirement is out of reach for many Americans.

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