Journal of Financial Planning

September, 2002

Four faces of retirement

Are your retired clients Ageless Explorers, Cornfortably Contents, Live for Todays or Sick and Tireds? These are the four faces of retirement identified by aging expert Ken Dychtwald based on an extensive survey of retirees' attitudes, lifestyles and financial preparedness.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by AIG SunAmerica, reaffirmed what many planners already know: retirees and preretirees increasingly no longer regard retirement as an extended vacation or time of rest and relaxation, but rather as a new, active stage of life.

Among the trends found by the survey...

* Only 22 percent of retirees see their retirement as an extended vacation

* 38 percent view it as a whole new life

* 40 percent view it as a continuation of life

* 95 percent of pre-retirees expect to work during retirement, half of them willing to work even if they are paid little or nothing

* 61 percent of retirees who had saved for 25 years or more for retirement were extremely satisfied, versus 46 percent of those who had saved fewer than 15 years

Dychtwald's research categorized retirees into four types, each with different ideals and goals for retirement.

Ageless Explorers, who make up 27 percent of retirees, exemplify the new retirement model with their desire to be active, productive and independent in retirement, and to reinvent themselves. Generally, they have planned well financially for their retirement.

The 19 percent Comfortably Contents put less emphasis on personal growth and work and more on relaxation and enjoyment through travel and recreation. They have planned well for retirement.

The 22 percent Live For Todays aspire to many of the same ideals as the Ageless Explorers, but are financially unprepared, making them anxious in retirement.

The Sick & Tireds make up the largest percentage, 32 percent. They're characterized by being inactive, unfulfilled and resigned to a less-than-satisfying future. A significant portion of this segment are widowed and in poor health, with significantly fewer financial resources.

For a complete overview of the research, go to