Monday, April 12, 2021

What REAL retirees want


For someone who teaches an Early Retirement class, I'm quite clueless about the lives of REAL retirees - the folks who do not succeed in their mission for Early Retirement. So after reading about all the scientific advances on immortality, I went into all the books I bought on Kindle but KIVed for some reason to look for some information on old age and retirement. 

It was not fun reading about old people. 

The book spent lengths talking about ageism in the media and talked about how Americans coped with loneliness. The financial statistics are not really counter-intuitive, most Americans do not have enough to stop work, but the book may be useful for businessmen because what Boomers have is plenty of money. It's amazing that brands are so obsessed with Millenials and Gen Z when it is a grandpa and grandma who really has all the money in the US (and SG). 

[ Case in point, I think whoever solves the problem of loneliness amongst elderly LBGT would be guaranteed laugh all the way to the bank. ]

One way to look at the elderly and the patterns of TRUE RETIREMENT is that retirees generally fall into four patterns in fairly even proportions. ( Note that I tried to 2x2 matrix with the OCEAN personality model which is not in the original book so I totally made that shit up ) :

a) Ageless Explorers ( Conscientious, Open to new experiences )

A majority of FIRE aspirants hope to see retirement as a time for opportunity and new adventures. Ageless explorers tend to be fairly successful careerwise and will attempt to reinvent themselves by starting a business or teach ( I did both ! ). They just see retirement as a better way to balance work and leisure but loath to give up their corporate identities.

You can cater to Ageless Explorers by creating schools for the Elderly so that they remain engaged with the industry. Platforms to hire them as consultants is also a good play.

b) Comfortably Contents ( Conscientious, Closed to new experiences )

Comfortably contents see retirement in a more conventional way. Retirement is a reward for a life that was lived well. The main focus is recreation and work will only be done to supplement their income and remain engaged with friends. They also see this as a time to be close to their families and love playing with grandchildren.

You can cater to Comfortably Contents with a travel package that caters to their needs. 

c) Live for Todays ( Not Conscientious, Open to new experiences )

Your crazy artist friend who lives a life of great variety will retire as a Live for Today if they are lucky ( If they are not lucky, look at (d) ). These retirees are free-spirited and have a lot of projects to do when they are retired. Retirement means new relationships, new jobs and new locations. 

The only problem is that these guys tend to more 'save as you go' and have to supplement their expenses with some work to survive. Live for Todays all experience a fair share of frustration for not planning financially in earlier stages of their lives and may feel that retired living is actually more constraining than they think. When ISP premiums start to rachet up, the Live for Todays will begin to exude cold sweat.  

My guess is that Singaporean Live for Todays may struggle here but may thrive in places like Thailand or Malaysia, so if you design a business for them, it may be to help them relocate that is more amenable to their YOLO lifestyles. 

d) Worried Strugglers ( Not Conscientious, Closed to new experiences )

As I have breakfast at different kopitiams in the Bukit Panjang heartlands, the majority of 'retirees' I meet are Worried Strugglers. It would also be wrong to call them retirees because they are struggling with day jobs to survive. 

Worried strugglers are more worried, less secure, less healthy and less happy. These are not the Golden Years at all. 

I can't even think of a business that caters to them. If you really do care, I suspect shutting the 4D outlets down will do them a lot of good even though they will probably curse and swear at you for doing it. 

Can I integrate these insights into my program? I think the goal of Early Retirement planning is to shut off scenarios (c) and (d) totally so that you can qualify to be (a) and (b). 


  1. Lol, I tot wat ALL retirees want is a stream of income that is sufficient, consistent, & resilient.

    The variation of abundance or lack in this sole want plays a big determinant to the resulting 4 groups.

  2. Thanks for another great recommendation will read it ! I just early retired this year so 3 months into this journey - current focus areas are - build social capital; build intellectual capital in new areas of learning (longevity and silver age topics) and build physical health. So definitely agree on the focus on building (a) being the ageless explorer.

  3. Most people aspire to be a) or b), but due to poor discipline or certain personality traits, many ended up c and d....

  4. Correct, an income stream will avoid (c) and (d) entirely. But personality weaknesses will cause many folks to wind up in (c) and (d). Lucky we have CPF Life.

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