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How today’s thirty- and forty-somethings are seeing
retirement as an opportunity to live a great second life.
Some people are wired to live an active life. For them, retiring from work one day doesn’t mean retiring from life. They see it as an opportunity to live out their passions. Over the new year, we talked to some working individuals already thinking forward. We asked these thirty-to-forty-somethings the typical life-goal question, but with a twist: ‘Where do you see yourself in the next fifty years?’
They shared with us their retirement dreams…
Making orphanages better homes
Tee Huei, 42, Interior Designer
Tee Huei, owner of an interior design firm and a vision
for displaced children. YEOWMAN/Yeow Tee Huei
We often help out with charity events for orphanages on our biking roadtrips. But I have always felt I could do more if I had the time. I’m rethinking retirement. Aside from living a good and healthy life with my family, I want to make orphanages better homes for children.
I admire the work of Shigeru Ban, the master architect of temporary homes, and the thoughtful solutions he built for people in life-altering disasters. I see a lot of my vision in his work. Translating traditional ideas and inexpensive materials into new uses. Recycling and upcycling for low cost housing. Most of all, it’s his understanding of the basic needs and dignity of displaced people. With my experience in interior design and materials, I believe I can make orphanages better homes, no matter how long or temporary their stay may be. There’s also a fengshui element I can add to it—the balance of environmental energy is key to favourable living.
Although an entirely new venture for me, I don’t see it as continuing my career into retirement age but more like a transformation of my skills into something more meaningful. The result could be most rewarding.
Write a book about my community
Song, 39, Restaurateur
I hope to spend my retirement years writing a book about my people. As a Hainanese preserving a third-generation Hainanese recipe, I became deeply interested in the history of our community’s early settlers around the old port of Melaka. They were traders and cooks and home helpers in the fringes, peddling their traditional foods, inventing new recipes to suit the palate of locals. I want to tell the story of how this little-known settlers from an island south of China gradually became an integral part of my country’s community and culture… as well as my life.
Building the wealth towards this goal is another story. As a restaurant owner, I understand how any plan has to start seven to ten years ahead. Apart from savings, I’m looking into investments that can provide the foundation of a relatively comfortable post-retirement life, so as not to distract the writing.
Owning a café in Italy
Choo, 38, Entrepreneur
What will I do in retirement? Not going on cruises that’s for sure. I picture myself at the vintage storefront of a caffé in Turin or Milan with my name across its large glass windows, plaster walls and ceilings with a cosy setting inside, and a roasting machine in the basement. How these centuries-old establishments are so rich in history and style amazes me. They have been the place where famous artists, writers and intellectuals, even political icons, once congregated… they were where conversations created revolutions.
Choo delivering a product demo at a client’s office. EYOKI/Yuki Eyok
Most of my life has been about business, having dabbled in office equipment to property to specialty coffee. Coffee has been the most interesting part of the journey so far. The closer I get to the product, the more I see the art in the beans. I want to go back to the special in specialty coffee and nowhere else is that more true and alive than in Italy.
It’s not something that can be achieved with just huge savings. Inflation is every big dream’s enemy. Starting early with a guaranteed rate of returns would lead to a more realistic outcome. Although I was fortunate with stocks early in my career, I’m shifting towards those that provide a steady growing income as opposed to high payouts.
Owning a café in Italy
Choo, 38, Entrepreneur
We see ourselves in our sixties and seventies travelling, discovering new art and amassing our own private collection. It’s about not growing old, but growing into something we love.
I think this idea started with our holiday travels. Perhaps it’s being in a foreign place that makes one more acute to unique pieces or simply more adventurous. Of course there are the extravagant art spaces and galleries of Dubai and NYC, but it’s in the unexpected places that we find the real gems. At one nondescript stall in Bangkok’s sprawling Chatuchak market for instance was where we found this amazingly intricate piece sculpted by a local architect. We picked it up for a small fortune. It’s kind of the same way the legendary art collector Uli Sigg began picking up pieces of early Chinese contemporary art in the 1990s for just thousands; now they are worth millions.
Who knows, we could work towards art investing too. There’s no disputing the global art market boom in recent years. It has become an entirely new and exciting asset class, we think. And an income-oriented retirement would be nice. Andy Warhol once said: ‘Making money is an art’. Let’s see how well art will make money for us!
Elephant and rabbit artwork by Supachet Bhumakarn.
The gem from Chatuchak.
Retired and wired
Indeed, the nature of work will depend greatly on our health and well-being. But a growing body of research shows that continued work is linked to better physical health and cognitive functioning in older age, greater longevity even.1 This means that work or active pursuits after retirement prove to be more beneficial than we’ve been traditionally made to believe. And with increasing advances in healthcare, the possibilities of post-retirement life are definitely something to be excited about.
According to Stanford behavioral economists, the first step to a successful retirement is being able to identify with that older person that you’ll one day be.2 Strange but true, most of us fail to save for retirement because we do not identify with that older person in the future as ourselves. As a result, and naturally enough, we tend to choose immediate rewards at the expense of long-term ones. Therefore, a fulfilling retirement could be as simple as asking ourselves: ‘How would my future-self want to live?’ Look at ourselves instead of at the retirees and people we know around us, find a passion, and start planning for it.
Getting there
However ambitious your retirement dream may be, it’s never too early to invest in a plan that takes you there. Remember that financial plans for tomorrow start with today. Look at a debt consolidation loan for example, to help you reduce interest payments and redirect that money to your retirement chest instead. Investing is also less expensive if you’re starting decades ahead. Your Relationship Manager can help advise and find your best match portfolio generally consisting of mutual funds. You may also want to explore asset classes or put in additional savings to safeguard from health issues. Ultimately the idea is to embark on a wealth journey that puts you first today as much as it will tomorrow
Sources: 1 Oxford Academic, Work, Aging and Retirement Volume 4 Issue 1, January 2018. 2 American Marketing Association, Journal of Marketing Research: Increasing Saving Behavior Through Age-Progressed Renderings of the Future Self, November 2011.