Capital Investment Advisors

#179 – Unretirement, Purpose, and a Paycheck—How Older Workers Can Create a Stronger and More Vibrant Economy with Chris Farrell

The term “Unretirement” is popping up more and more these days, and Chris Farrell literally wrote the book on it. After years of studying and reporting on the economy for PBS Next Avenue and Bloomberg Businessweek, Chris’ latest book, Purpose and Paycheck, further drives home the point that, at our core, humans have a deep need to be useful.

A leading voice of the Unretirement movement, Chris joins Wes to share his thoughts on why so many Baby Boomers have decided to embrace the Unretirement lifestyle on their terms. He describes the creative attempts people are using to leverage career experience as a way of carving new paths. If you think of yourself as someone who might want to unretire, today’s episode is for you.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Wes Moss [00:00:00]:Unretirement. It’s a term I hear more and more these days, and Chris Farrell literally wrote the book on it. A leading voice of the unretirement movement, he argues that humans have always found meaning and motivation in work and community. And that’s a big reason why so many baby boomers have decided to once again seek at least some form of employment even after they’ve retired once. After years of studying and reporting on the economy for PBS, Next Avenue and Bloomberg Business Week, chris’s latest book, Purpose and Paycheck, further drives home the point that at our core, humans have a deep need to be useful. And for some would be retire sooner folks, there’s an enduring drive to go back to the dignity of work. Even my baby boomer dad did it. After 43 years of owning a veterinary practice, he sold it and he stopped working for four years.Wes Moss [00:00:57]:Well, now he’s back doing surgery for one day a week. In today’s episode, we dive into why so many retirees are embracing the unretirement lifestyle on their terms. We discuss their creative attempts to leverage career experience to core new paths. Like a nurse who was so passionate about the outdoors that she became an EMT for the national parks. Retirement equates to about 2500 hours of newfound free time every year, and there’s no reason some of it can’t be spent in meaningful ways earning a paycheck. So if you think of yourself as someone who may ever want to unretire or explore it, today’s episode is for you. I’m Wes Moss. The prevailing thought in America is that you’ll never have enough money and it’s almost impossible to retire early.Wes Moss [00:01:51]:Actually, I think the opposite is true. For more than 20 years, I’ve been researching, studying and advising American families, including those who started late, on how to retire sooner and happier. So my mission with the Retire Sooner podcast is to help a million people retire earlier while enjoying the adventure along the way. I’d love for you to be one of them. Let’s get started. So, Chris, welcome to the retire sooner podcast. Thank you for being here, man.

    Chris Farrell [00:02:19]:

    Thank you for having know.

    Wes Moss [00:02:21]:

    Look, you were talking about this before we were ever even thought about it, which is this thought around unretirement. And you’re an economics guy, but you went to London School of Economics. So are you an economist or did you just study economics? Which one?

    Chris Farrell [00:02:37]:

    I am not an economist. I’m definitely not an economist. I’m a journalist who covers economics.

    Wes Moss [00:02:44]:

    Okay, but you have an economics degree, though?

    Chris Farrell [00:02:46]:

    No, I have an undergraduate degree in history and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in sociology. But my career in journalism, which is about now 30 some odd years, has been covering economics.

    Wes Moss [00:03:00]:

    Okay, so if we make fun of economists that are always wrong, you’re not going to be offended. Then you’re not an economist.

    Chris Farrell [00:03:06]:


    Wes Moss [00:03:09]:

    95% of economists called for recession in 2023 yet. No recession in sight, and we’re already in October, so we only got two and a half months left or so to escape recession. Knock on wood. I don’t want to jinx it. And I’m the same, by the way, Chris. I studied economics at University of North Carolina, but I’m not a full time economist. So you’ve been covering and writing about Unretirement. If you think about the last through COVID, I always look at labor force participation rates, and it was pretty clear that if you looked at the 55 plus group labor force participation, it went down by about 2 million people, which we thought, wow, maybe people really listen to the Retire Sooner podcast.

    Wes Moss [00:04:03]:

    And lots of people are retiring. The reality is, obviously it was all the economic conditions and the ripples of the pandemic and what happened to the economy and people being kind of close to retirement anyway, maybe pushing people over the edge a little bit. And then now, according to labor force participation, we’re back to 3.7. We were at something like 37 million, down to 35, back to 36 and a half. So if I read that, I read that to some extent as a million and a half people have gone back to work. They’ve unretired. So I want to get your thoughts around that. I had a longtime family I’ve worked with who retired a little early during COVID because he was ready to do it anyway, and now he’s going back to work just for fun.

    Wes Moss [00:05:00]:

    He actually is going to go back. There’s an Ace Hardware near where he lives. He’s a super handy guy. Once in a while, I’ll get a picture of, like, an Arm WAB that he’ll make or something. So he’s super handy, and he’s like, I think I just for fun, I want to go back to I want to go work for Ace Hardware. $15 an hour.

    Chris Farrell [00:05:19]:


    Wes Moss [00:05:20]:

    So tell me about that trend of what you’ve been witnessing, and then you wrote about this a long time ago, before all of this happened.

    Chris Farrell [00:05:27]:

    So all these major trends, there’s a number of forces that are coming together to drive it forward. So one of the thing is, on average, it has to be on average, we’re living longer, we’re healthier, we’re better educated, and we also have a retirement system that has a lot of holes in it. And as you know, I mean, you know this very well. It’s not that people don’t save for retirement because they can’t resist them. All life is hard. Kids get sick. You lose your job. There’s a medical emergency.

    Chris Farrell [00:06:04]:

    You’re taking care of aging parents. And so a lot of people come near those traditional retirement years, and they don’t have a whole lot of savings. They have some savings, but not a whole lot. And so if you work a few years longer, it really does help your household balance sheet. And as you know, it also makes it practical to delay filing for Social Security and then you get a better Social Security benefit, at least up to age 70. But the aspect that I think is not paid enough attention to is that if you think about your career, all the ups and downs in your career, you’ve gained all this skill, this knowledge, this experience, and at our core, we all want to be useful. And so it’s actually kind of a bizarre idea that you’ll hit some age, you can pick some arbitrary age, 60, 62, 64, whatever age you pick that at some age you’re just going to say, that’s it, I’m going to walk away from all this knowledge, all this skill, all this experience for the rest of my life. Now it makes complete sense that you don’t want to work 50 hours for 40 hours of pay.

    Chris Farrell [00:07:15]:

    It can make completely sense that you are just tired of the place that you’ve been at for a long period of time and actually you’re going to be really happy to say goodbye to some of your colleagues. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to continue to exercise your skills and your knowledge and your experience. And the other aspect of work that is underestimated and your Ace Hardware example is a good one. You provide an income through work, right? That’s how we make our money. But the work is also a social institution. There are people there and you gossip, you talk, you share coffee. There are people you really like. There are people you really don’t like.

    Chris Farrell [00:07:59]:

    It’s a community. And when you look at the surveys that people who are retired, what do you most miss about your previous life? Money is on that list, but it’s actually reasonably far down. You know what’s always on number one? Number two.

    Wes Moss [00:08:14]:

    What is number one?

    Chris Farrell [00:08:15]:

    It is you miss the colleagues, the community. Basically you miss the community. You miss the colleagues, the vendors, going to the conferences, the people that you interacted with. That’s actually what people do miss. And it’s so important in our society to have connections, to have a sense of community, to have a sense of belonging. And work just automatically provides that for many people. And therefore this unretirement movement. I call my latest book Purpose in a Paycheck, because as we get older throughout life, it matters.

    Chris Farrell [00:08:51]:

    But as you get older, purpose does become really important. You kind of want to feel good when you get up in the morning and that you’re kind of making a difference. But at the same time, it’s really nice to have some money coming in. Might be part time, might be flexible. Money, might be working at Ace Hardware a couple of hours a week. Whatever it is, may not be much money compared to what you earned before, but nonetheless, some money coming in that provides some financial relief and some relief from stress about money.

    Wes Moss [00:09:24]:

    I think about it as we miss the community and not the commute.

    Chris Farrell [00:09:29]:

    Right? To some extent, exactly.

    Wes Moss [00:09:34]:

    I think to your interesting point, and I think it’s a realistic point, is that there are plenty of people that we are happy to no longer work with. Right. So there’s plenty of people we get to not work with anymore. But then to some extent, there is that auto. I’m not going to say it’s forced socialization because I think the way you put it is it’s more automatic socialization and socialization begets socialization. You’re there people are doing they’re going to Braves games or they’re going to again, conferences and then that interaction then begets more interaction. Hey, let’s go play golf. Hey, we’ve already and if you don’t.

    Chris Farrell [00:10:15]:

    Show up, somebody’s actually going to care and they’re going to find out, why didn’t you show up?

    Wes Moss [00:10:21]:

    So we missed the community, not the commute. How about here’s the other thing. You said the word purpose. I’ve talked for a lot of years around statistically, for retirees to end up in the happy retiree camp, they’ve got to have more. They average 3.6 or we’ll call it four core pursuits. Core pursuits. In our book here is Hobbies on steroids. And I got a long email from a listener that said, hey, Wes, I feel like you give us too much pressure.

    Wes Moss [00:11:01]:

    You say you need all these core pursuits and you need to be passionate about these core pursuits. And he didn’t mention purpose, but let’s throw that. He goes, My only real passion is my wife. He goes, I play golf twice a week. I play guitar every day. I watch college football. I love to grill on the Big Green Egg, which by the way, they sell those at Ace Hardware.

    Chris Farrell [00:11:23]:

    Yes, they do.

    Wes Moss [00:11:23]:

    And it’d be fun to sell the green. I’d sell a big Green Egg every day. If I were every day, at least one would be my goal at Case Hardware. So he’s saying, Wes, you’re giving me a little too much pressure. Do I really need to write a book, build a podcast, have another great job? And I responded by saying, look, I don’t want to make any of this shouldn’t be pressure packed. It’s not a competition. And I think my question to you is around if somebody’s going to back to work, do they not have enough core pursuits? Have they not put enough energy into that? Or is working part time maybe that’s a core pursuit, too?

    Chris Farrell [00:12:07]:

    Well, I think it’s more that is a core pursuit because for the people who are going to be doing it, there’s some sort of pleasure that they get at exercising their skills in a work environment. Right. And that’s, again, why it’s important that and this is why one of the reasons why I think self employment is such a big part the largest percentage of people who are self employed are 65 years and older. And a lot of the reason has to be. You got some control over your schedule. You got some knowledge and experience. I’m not talking about self employment where you’re trying to become a master of the universe, where you’re trying to write the novel that’s going to get you on the New York Times bestseller list. But you know, some people, you know some things.

    Chris Farrell [00:12:55]:

    You’re able to provide a know, you feel good about yourself. You feel good about the product that you’re giving. But I think purpose really, it’s simply what is it that gets you up in the morning that is bigger than you are and bigger than your needs and bigger than your wants that attaches you to the broader society. And so for many people, most people, I think everybody is multidimensional. And so you may have a multipurpose life where you’re doing a little bit of work. You’re doing, as you mentioned, some hobbies. You might have some travel or family time. And part there is this pressure, okay, what is my purpose? How do I find my purpose? And I think the person that emailed you was right.

    Chris Farrell [00:13:46]:

    I mean, okay, let’s relax here for a moment. But you do want to have something of an experimental mindset and try out a bunch of stuff and see what really starts grabbing your interest and what really gets you up in the morning to say, hey, I want to go back and do this again. And part of it that I’d recommend in terms of how to find what it is you want to do. The most valuable asset of any of your listeners is their network. And it’s a word a lot of people don’t like. But this is basically your friends, your family, your extended family, your colleagues that you’ve known over the years, the people that you’ve admired over the years. Maybe meeting at church or temple and talk to your network and say, hey, what do you think I’d be good at doing? And the thing is, they know you. They also know you, and that means they also have good ideas.

    Chris Farrell [00:14:44]:

    You may think that you are this empathetic person and you should put yourself in this empathetic situation, and they’re going to go, look, hey, empathy is not a word that I’m going to use around you, but competent or some other word. So they’ll help you figure it out. Because one of the hardest things about making this transition, whether you’re working or not working, is separating yourself from your job title, separating yourself from your career. But what is your skill? And they’ll help you do that. And then the thing what your network will help you do is then they’ll make those introductions. And those introductions, they’re not going to come through an algorithm. They’re not going to come through online, but they’re going to make that introduction. And let’s say it doesn’t work out.

    Chris Farrell [00:15:27]:

    This isn’t that interesting to me. But here’s the thing. You’ve now met a few more people and you might have meet something that someone’s doing that you kind of go, OOH, I wonder about that. So I think this is an exciting period of life. It’s a period of opportunities. And a lot of what the unretirement movement is really about is just saying, look, you now have 2500 hours a year that you used to go to work, including that was your work time. It’s now free with you. This is an incredible opportunity.

    Chris Farrell [00:16:05]:

    And what are you going to do? What are you going to take advantage of those opportunities? But you do want to have that sense of purpose because I don’t know about you, but as you can see, I have white hair. And one of the things that’s really wonderful is that I’ve reached a stage where a young college graduate will reach out and say, can I just have an informational interview? And they know what a job is, but what is a career? All right? And these are wonderful conversations you talk about. And the thing is, they’re idealistic. I’m sure you’ve had these they’re idealistic. They want to do something that they feel proud about. They want to do something that makes this world a better place. And I think this is terrific. Now you have that conversation with a 60 something.

    Chris Farrell [00:16:50]:

    It’s the exact same conversation. It’s about, hey, I want to do something that makes a difference. I want to do something that makes that I think it’s going to make me feel good. The only difference between the 20 something and the 60 something is the 20 something thinks time is infinity and the 60 something okay, I know it’s a little bit shorter.

    Wes Moss [00:17:11]:

    The S and P 500 fell nearly 20% in 2022. Inflation jumped to double digits, and the Fed has continued to relentlessly raise interest rates. It feels like chaos, but at Capital Investment Advisors, we take a disciplined approach to investing to help our clients find happiness in retirement. Regardless of the scary headlines, we can’t control the chaos, but we can control.

    Chris Farrell [00:17:39]:

    What we do about it.

    Wes Moss [00:17:41]:

    If you’d like, help with your disciplined retirement strategy, reach out to our That’s Y-O-U How about this, Chris? First of all, that is kind of a fascinating statistic that we’ve never talked about here on the show, which is the highest percentage of entrepreneurs are in the 65 plus category. I guess that goes back to your point around the knowledge base, right? That’s right. That somebody who’s already mid 60s. They have a lot to offer. And to some extent, I’m thinking about this. So economically, if you got this tight labor market that we’ve been in now for a long time, way more vacancies, way more open jobs and people looking and the biggest group that retired a little early is also the group that has the biggest knowledge set.

    Wes Moss [00:18:37]:

    So some of it is I guess I wonder how much is of this gravitational pull back in like, hey, your network saying, hey, we could really use you. Or Why don’t you come back here? Why don’t you come work over here? Is that another variable you’ve seen? There’s just some real demand for knowledge?

    Chris Farrell [00:18:55]:


    Wes Moss [00:18:55]:

    Come back. Go back to the labor force.

    Chris Farrell [00:18:57]:

    So ageism is real and it is widespread. The tight labor market leans against ageism. It just really does. And this is now a state. Unless there’s some dramatic change in birth rates or dramatic change in immigration, we’re now in a stage where the workforce is going to be older and so managements are starting to adjust way too slowly. But I think there has been a shift that managers are more as they walk past an older worker, are not saying, I wonder when that person is going to retire. They’re saying to themselves, I wonder how we can retain this person a little bit longer. Because as you mentioned, the skills and the knowledge.

    Chris Farrell [00:19:44]:

    So that’s really going on. It’s still harder if you lose your job or you leave your job and then you want to find another job, right? That hiring barrier is there. But that’s why people often do something very different. So you go work at an Ace Hardware because that’s fun for you and it’s also the Ace Hardware. They’re going to love to have you. Or that’s where you figure out your skills. Years ago I interviewed a woman who had been a nurse, 60 years old. She was burned out and she wanted to be outdoors.

    Chris Farrell [00:20:15]:

    And what she eventually landed on was she ended up working as an EMT in one of the national parks. Now, one of the things that I really want to emphasize here is people underestimate how creative people can be when it comes to doing something because we all tend to be very narrow minded if you ask me. I’ll talk about journalism and I’ll talk about things that are related to journalism and other people, depending on what their job, they’ll have the same thing. But the thing is, people come up with really retire ideas. They need to separate themselves from their job. They need to separate themselves from their career. But that’s part of this having purpose, being engaged, finding meaning, and having a little bit of fun. Some of it might bring in an income, some of it is volunteer, some of it is with your grandchildren, some of it with your passions.

    Chris Farrell [00:21:07]:

    So you create this mosaic, this portfolio of different activities. And I think that’s an exciting thing to contemplate.

    Wes Moss [00:21:18]:

    How about ageism? I do want to cover that. You’ve talked a lot about this and I guess I have seen some of that, right? Somebody who’s in their early sixty s and they maybe lose their job, they get laid off and it is a little harder to get back into the labor force. What are the realities of that right now?

    Chris Farrell [00:21:37]:

    So the reality ageism is there so how many people have been in a meeting where someone goes, oh, what’s that person’s name? I’m having a senior moment right now that’s just sort of or the assumption of we got a problem, we got to figure out how we’re going to adapt our technology. Let’s get a bunch of 30 year olds in the room because they’re the ones that are going to be adept at it. But if you think about it, with technology, with just looking at my career so initially I was a merchant seamen, but my first office job, I had an IBM Selectric. And if you didn’t hit the enter button, you could erase a line without using whiteout. But then you go from IBM Selectric to dedicated word processor, to the know, to the tablet, to the smart. I mean, people have adopted so often. And one of the things that came very clear during the pandemic, there’s almost nothing good to say about the pandemic. Right? Nothing.

    Chris Farrell [00:22:37]:

    But what happened is you would assisted living centers, everybody was using Zoom, no problem. People were ordering their groceries online. There Wes, a fascinating report out by the trade group for the grocery industry. They didn’t market to the 60 and over because they figured they were technologically illiterate for their online sales. And during part of that pandemic, a big chunk of their sales, I think a majority of their sales, if I remember right, were the 60 plus market. So there’s still a lot of prejudice out there, but nothing leans against prejudice as much as the tight labor market. And then you have to sort of look at get past that. So I think we are moving in that right direction.

    Chris Farrell [00:23:23]:

    We’re not there yet. People have these rules of thumb. Think about trying to get a job as a janitor. You’d be looking at jobs and they’d be asking for a master’s degree. Two decades ago, hey, you know, you want to be a janitor, you have to have not just a BA, but hey, here, have a master’s degree. Why were they doing it? Because there’s a line of people out the door and you could get away with it. Today there’s not a line of people out your door.

    Wes Moss [00:23:51]:

    Right. There’s like a half a person looking for the job that you’re trying to fill. Right. That’s a very different labor market. I love the idea of you got 2500 hours to fill. Are you going to really do it all with these hobbies on steroids? I think you can, but one or two of them can be hobby income, part time work. And it’s exciting to think about that. The other financial part of this, of course, is delaying using the money you’ve saved, right?

    Chris Farrell [00:24:20]:

    That’s right.

    Wes Moss [00:24:20]:

    Maybe delaying Social Security. So it’s a higher level. I guess my question would be there is still a great fear. I just had a meeting this week with some young 60 year olds. Young 61, 62, and they just sold a business. They’re officially, in their mind, stopped work and in their sense retired. And they are very much of the thought that, hey, we really want to take Social Security right away or now. And I said, look, let’s go through some of the math here.

    Wes Moss [00:24:55]:

    It’s probably better for you guys to wait, or at least one of you to wait for a while. And we went through the Spousal benefit if something happens to one of them and how that can get impacted. But their thought is, hey, Social Security is running out. I want to take it where I can get it. One and two, hey, what if we pass away early? I want to take it as soon as I can. That is a very pervasive thought still in America, whether it’s true or not. And you’ve done a lot of work around this. Tell us about your thought around the Social Security system because you just mentioned the statistic that we’re going to have more 65 plus than younger folks pretty soon.

    Chris Farrell [00:25:37]:

    So a couple of things and just interrupt if I start going on too long. But part of it is a framing of the Social Security question because right now the standard conversation is you can file for Social Security as early as age 62, and then you can go all the way up to age 70. And what I would like people to do is say you file for Social Security at age 70. That’s when you get your maximum benefit. But you may have health issues, you may have to leave your job to take care of aging parents, you may be finding it hard to get a job, and you’re entering the ranks of the long term unemployed. There just can be a variety of reasons why you might want to file at 64. At 62. There’s nothing wrong with doing that.

    Chris Farrell [00:26:27]:

    But you want to make a rational decision and understand your trade offs. And for people like the people you were talking to, they have a fair amount of money because they just sold their business. There’s a financial support there for the typical worker, owns their own home, maybe has a little bit of money in a 401. When you take Social Security is an incredibly important decision because it really does impact your finances. And the thing about Social Security is you can’t outlive the benefit. And I know people really love the fact that you can tap into early, but you also at the same time have this odd conversation of so many people being afraid of running out of money because that’s one of the risks with a 401K plan or a 403 B plan. It’s inherent in that product. You can’t outlive Social Security and it is the only big annuity that’s out there that adjusts for the changes in the cost of living, for increases in the cost of living.

    Chris Farrell [00:27:31]:

    So if people take it at 62, who have resources. It’s not a disaster. But I do think in terms of great point. But if you are married, are you making the best decision for your spouse over the rest of your lifetime, which at some .1 of you probably is going to live without the other?

    Wes Moss [00:27:54]:

    Right. Well and then what about the running out of Social Security? I mean, again, I have pretty strong opinions that it’s not running out and that you’ll get most of it and particularly if you’re already 55 plus. I think that’s important to frame that.

    Chris Farrell [00:28:11]:

    It is important when you look at all the proposals that are ever being made. If you make a change, it’s for 55 and older are protected. It’d be 55 and under who are going to have the change. But here’s the thing. As you know, forecasting is hazardous to your wealth. Forecasting is a hazardous business. But I think this is the safest forecast that I can ever make. Social Security is going to be there for the younger generation.

    Chris Farrell [00:28:37]:

    And the reason is half of all households get half of their income who are retirees half their income from Social Security, depending on whose numbers you’re looking at. But it’s almost like a smaller percentage. But for some people it’s like 90% of their income. And the polling Pew Research Center did a poll a while back, 90% of people lean Democratic. They want no changes to Social Security or it increased. 85% of Republicans, no change to Social Security or increased. So you have these think tanks and you have some people who are joshing around and saying we can’t afford this anymore. Wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

    Chris Farrell [00:29:21]:

    Social Security. Is that social insurance that has made such a difference in so many people’s lives. So we may not come up with a compromise that funds Social Security until 2034 or 2033. That is a risk and that’s terrible should not happen. People shouldn’t have to be you shouldn’t have to ask the question that you’re asking. I shouldn’t have to be answering the question that you asked. But that is the reality we have. But at the end of the day, Social Security will be there unless we come up with something much, much better.

    Chris Farrell [00:29:55]:

    But for right now, nobody ever talks.

    Wes Moss [00:29:58]:

    About it that way. Chris, that’s a really good so I think that the other great, what I’m learning from you too is just how important framing is. I’ve never really thought about saying, hey, you take Social Security at 70, but you could, if you need to take it at 64, 63, 62. Our industry doesn’t do that. Our industry at the most will say, well, you’re really making a huge mistake if you don’t take it at 70. Right, but I just like your framing. It’s like, yeah, you can take it at 70. And I think you’re also right that the more your resources are, the less bad it would be to.

    Wes Moss [00:30:39]:

    Take it early. Yeah.

    Chris Farrell [00:30:42]:

    You think about most of the customers in the financial services industry, the ones who have registered investment advisors, certified financial planners, they’re pretty well off.

    Wes Moss [00:30:55]:

    Yeah, they usually have a million plus.

    Chris Farrell [00:30:58]:

    Right. So it’s not as critical. The reason why I think it’s still a critical decision is because it is longevity insurance. And you really can’t get longevity insurance out there except for Social Security.

    Wes Moss [00:31:11]:

    And it’s also a bigger number than people give it credit for. Looking at the same conversation we were looking at two Social Security statements, and it’s so common. I’d say it’s much more common than not for someone to say, oh, well, Social I’m not, I’m not counting on Social Security dismissing it. One, they may not think it’s going to be there. Two, it’s not that much. And you look at it and you go, okay, it’s 2200. That’s not nothing. And if you wait and you wait and you wait and wait a minute, it’s 70.

    Wes Moss [00:31:40]:

    It’s 4000 a month. And that’s for one person.

    Chris Farrell [00:31:45]:

    One person.

    Wes Moss [00:31:47]:

    Don’t tell me that’s not something. I don’t care. You could have a million or $2 million.

    Chris Farrell [00:31:51]:

    It’s still something.

    Wes Moss [00:31:52]:

    A lot of money.

    Chris Farrell [00:31:52]:

    Yes, exactly.

    Wes Moss [00:31:53]:

    Still something, yeah. So let’s not discount Social Security. You had mentioned this earlier. This thought of creative decline is kind of a misnomer. We don’t get less creative or we shouldn’t. And two, what are just practically the kind of jobs you’re seeing people get, and just some ideas for folks, because people will literally say, hey, what do I do if I’m not going to do my XYZ career? I was an analyst or a software implementation of airline industry, and I don’t want to do that anymore, but I don’t know what else to do. So what kind of things are you seeing people go do?

    Chris Farrell [00:32:35]:

    So they’re doing all kinds of things. A lot of it is in the service sector. Right. Which makes a lot of sense. And if it’s outdoors, it’s going to be things like working in the national parks, volunteering in the national parks, or actually working in the national parks. I know a gentleman who worked for a long time in Boston in public media, and then he moved out Wes, and he became an employee of the National Park Service in one of the national parks. So that’s the kind of thing that people will do. Someone who has a facility with math might become a tutor and helping young people learn their math.

    Chris Farrell [00:33:30]:

    I’d like to see more of this, and I have a suspicion there’s more of it going on that I’m aware of. But I know people who have started a business, and these are businesses where they want to scale up. And these are younger people, they’re ambitious, but their accountant is a retired accountant, and he or she will work a couple of hours a week, but they’re great. The office manager is a retired office manager. Works a couple, they hire a number of retirees. No one’s working full time, but they don’t need any monitoring. They don’t need any beyond what you would say in a normal business about communicating. But everyone’s kind of like there together.

    Chris Farrell [00:34:12]:

    They’re kind of all having fun. They will hope that this business is going to grow. One word. If there’s a mantra that I would use when you’re thinking about what else do you want to be doing, put the word intergenerational in there. And you want to see that opportunity, explain intergenerational. So intergenerational is young people. These are younger adults. You want to put yourself in a situation where you’re working with younger adults and where they want to be working with you.

    Chris Farrell [00:34:39]:

    Because the United States, among the major industrialized nations, is the most age segregated society, and we really have set up a lot of communities where you have to be 55 plus to live there. Right. And you don’t want the kids to be living there. They can visit. The grandkids can visit, but they can’t live there. And it’s a terrible mistake because wes have so much knowledge and experience to share with the young people, but we learn from the young people at the same time, and that’s really fun. And as a total aside, when you’re looking at studies that look into productivity in companies, all companies now of a certain size, everyone’s working in teams, right? I mean, it’s sort of a team based organization. What they have found is the most productive units are multigenerational teams.

    Chris Farrell [00:35:34]:

    And it makes absolutely sense whether you’re on a manufacturing floor or you’re in a giant insurance company. It’s the same results. So I think you had mentioned earlier about what am I doing purpose? What does that mean? I think you get so much from helping out the younger generation, but if you’re depressed, if you’re upset about society, where we’re going, which is not that hard to have those moments, right?

    Wes Moss [00:36:03]:

    Yeah. Spend a day everyone has those moments.

    Chris Farrell [00:36:05]:

    Spend a day on the college campus, wander around the college campus, step in a couple of classrooms. You cannot be depressed after you’ve been around a college campus for a day because there’s so much energy, there’s so much desire to make the world a better place. There’s so much curiosity that’s going on. And so putting yourself in an intergenerational environment I think is good for society, and I think it’s also good for your mental and physical health.

    Wes Moss [00:36:36]:

    One of the businesses I’ve started seven years ago or so is the hires have been pretty darn young, and they’re super smart and super ambitious and they’re super hardworking, right? But this was kind of just luck. This was kind of a lucky strike. One of the clients of this firm happens to be had run something within financial services, different investment, let’s call it vein. But after he was a client for about two years, he liked the company so much, he ended up working there. And you’ve got the average age, it’s like 35, and then he’s 65. And now he’s a huge part of that company and absolutely doesn’t need to work. But they love his direction and their mentorship, and it’s a great intergenerational example that just that we kind of lucked out with that. But that’s a really nice mix.

    Chris Farrell [00:37:36]:

    And so to give you some other ideas, you’d mentioned the Ace Hardware, which I really like, and I’ve written about this. Think about what it is you like to do. You mentioned Hobbies or your passion, and then think about the stores or the companies that you do business with and walk over and say, hey, they’ll know who you are, by the way. And you walk in, you say, hey, are you looking for part time work? I’m interested in doing that. And then I’ve known people who just sort of have done. There was a woman that I interviewed 30 years in the construction industry, and she was on the circuit for her company giving talks about sustainability to construction companies. And after about 30 years, she was like, I can’t take another airport and I can’t take another hotel basement. She had nothing to do and a lot of times has nothing to do with a bad company or bad employee.

    Chris Farrell [00:38:35]:

    She just was like, good company, good pay, and I love sustainability, but I just you know, she went to school at the University of Minnesota sort of mid career transition program. And what she ended up deciding to do is she went to work in the airline industry and she works at an airport and she’s the problem solver. So when there’s a problem at a gate and people are getting irate, she’s the person that comes up and she helps solve the problem. And she said she’s working with the most diverse workforce that she’s ever worked with. She absolutely loves it and she’s very comfortable, but it draws on a lot of her skills. But as she told me, if you had told her that she was going to make a career change into the airline industry, what are you talking about? But it sort of came about as she was doing some introspection and taking these classes and talking to other people, and she went to her advisor and said, this is what I’m thinking about. And the advisor said, Go for it.

    Wes Moss [00:39:38]:

    So I’m sitting here thinking about some creative, fun jobs. What would I do? And trying to think across the board here for a second. And here’s what I just came up with as we’re talking. One, let’s say I’m totally retired. I’m not doing retiree. Well, I would probably still do the retire sooner podcast.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:01]:

    I was just going to say, let’s.

    Wes Moss [00:40:03]:

    Say I’m totally, quote, retired and I’m just managing just my money, not anybody else’s, right? I could, one, go the golf route. I’m not good enough to teach golf, but I could be a golf caddy, and I’d probably be a caddy in one of those European golf courses. Like, I’d go to the United Kingdom and be a caddy on the Irish Sea on one of those courses. Two, I’d be a piano teacher. Three, I’d be a snowboard instructor.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:35]:

    There you go.

    Wes Moss [00:40:36]:

    Four, I would be a Michigan travel guide. Oh, have you ever been to you’re in Minnesota?

    Chris Farrell [00:40:43]:

    Yeah. You mean like the Upper Peninsula?

    Wes Moss [00:40:45]:

    No, Michigan.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:46]:

    Yeah. Well, no.

    Wes Moss [00:40:47]:

    Regular Michigan.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:48]:

    Yeah, I think it’d be great.

    Wes Moss [00:40:50]:

    It’s the most underrated state in the United States.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:52]:

    It is Michigan. It really is very underrated. So off your list you’d mentioned and.

    Wes Moss [00:40:58]:

    I got three more, but I’m going.

    Chris Farrell [00:40:59]:

    To leave it at just the snowboarding. So I interviewed a gentleman and he had had a career traveling the country and also started your big machinery involving big machinery, but he had a skill, which is that he knows how to wax skis. So retired to Utah and for the competitive skis ski racers, he is the one that when I interviewed him, I think it’s probably past now, but he waxed the skis because he was really good at and he loved it and it was a part time job, but he was passionate about it. And of course he loved to ski. And so he also got in a lot of skiing. So again, your list is very illustrative. And then the thing is okay, so you core up with a list like that. Now you start talking to your network.

    Chris Farrell [00:41:48]:

    What do you think? What other ideas do you have? And you’ll get some feedback and they’ll say snowboarding. Are you serious? Really? I’ve seen you on a snowboard. I’m just making that up completely. I have no idea. But you know what I mean. But then you can have these conversations and the fun thing about talking to your network about it is they’re going to be asking you, I think I might want to do this. What do you think? And do you have any insight into this? Which is so cool because then you’re in a community and you’re connecting and you’re helping each other out.

    Wes Moss [00:42:25]:

    It is funny. I think about I remember last year I was in Colorado snowboarding, and there was one of these mid mountain gathering areas with like you could get some food and you could also get there was a bar and there was families and kids running all over the place. And in the middle of all that was a little tent outside where there wes someone waxing skis and snowboards right in the middle of everybody. And I thought, what a cool. It wasn’t a separate shop, it was just a tent set up just for mid mountain waxing. I was like, oh, that sounds like a cool looks kind of like a cool job.

    Chris Farrell [00:43:07]:


    Wes Moss [00:43:07]:

    So let me ask you, Chris, about time and do we underestimate overestimate? I’ve just read an article this week that the biggest mistake of retirement planning is not planning a long time longevity. You write about that, I’ve heard you talk about that. Tell us about the importance of time and how people do maybe underestimate it.

    Chris Farrell [00:43:32]:

    So there’s two ways of looking at time. So one is 2500 hours that I mentioned that comes from Joe Casey. He’s an executive coach. What do you want to do with your time? Time is your most important asset. How do you want to invest your time? How do you want to spend your time? And I think it’s really important to think about time that way, because time is the scarce resource. And that’s why it’s so important, and I’m sure you’ve heard this so important to actually in this stage of life, it’s not just important to know what you want to do, but what you don’t want to do, what you want to say. No. Know, every entrepreneur I’ve ever talked to has said that the most important skill that they ever learned was how to say no.

    Chris Farrell [00:44:22]:

    Which is hard for entrepreneurs because they always want to solve a problem. But then in terms of time, I.

    Wes Moss [00:44:28]:

    Just winked at my producer Mallory, and just said, do you hear that? No. Answer is no, we’re not doing that.

    Chris Farrell [00:44:36]:

    You’re talking about a different time, which is, am I going to outlive my assets? Do I have to worry about it? How do I think about how long am I going to live? And do we underestimate that? Well, in one sense we do. Because if you look at when people file for Social Security, I think a number of people are sort of anticipating that they’re not going to be around very long, so they might as well take it now and they could easily outlive that. But I’ve also struggled with this. I was just listening to something the other day where everyone’s saying, how do you live off your accumulated savings over 30 years? And I’m like, who can live off their accumulated savings over 30 years? I mean, you worked for 30 years and then you’re going to live off your savings for 30 years. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either. Is that really realistic there? So with time, what I think you have to do, you can look at the Social Security Actuarial tables, and I think for a 65 year old, you lived on average to what, 84? You might know the actual number, but you can look it up. It’s around that range. And then you think about your family history.

    Chris Farrell [00:45:49]:

    And your family history is really important. And actually one of the better things. The younger generation, they’re actually going to have better family histories to be able to look back at. When I had cancer and the doctor said, Whoa, is there a family history of cancer? We just said, well, they died in bar room fights or they died of heart failure and no one actually knew why they died. I mean, it was kind of like so everyone just put heart failure on there. It’s going to be a different world going forward. But I think this is one of the hardest things to deal with because it’s uncertain. It is by definition uncertain, yet we have a retirement savings system that really leaves that calculation up to you.

    Chris Farrell [00:46:36]:

    I mean, it was one of the benefits of the pension system, right? You still got a paycheck until you died. Now you may have to make your own paycheck. So I say look at the Xero tables, look at your family history.

    Wes Moss [00:46:50]:


    Chris Farrell [00:46:51]:

    Then basically really do financial planning, do your retirement planning. But the odds are you’re going to if you have retirement savings, okay, so that’s the key there. If you do have retirement savings, the odds are you’re going to underspend, not overspend.

    Wes Moss [00:47:11]:

    That’s a really good point. The reality is we think we’re going to run out because we’re going to spend too much. And I do see people that spend less than they thought. The other thing, Chris, is that we do have this just same human emotion that feels the pain of moss for X than the joy of gain is the same when it comes to looking around us. And we say for every one person that retired at 65 and died at 67, which are the terribly sad stories, but we do hear them. For every one of those, there are, I don’t know, three to five to seven people living a lot longer than they maybe thought. But they don’t hit you. That doesn’t hit home.

    Wes Moss [00:47:55]:

    Like the shock of I just retired and somebody that didn’t get to live the life they wanted. This is something I hadn’t thought to ask you, but this is really just more advice to me. In our industry, what profession and is there one helps if you’ve got five, 8 million people in America that are 60 plus trying to figure out some sort of hobbies on steroids core pursuits beyond, let’s say, part time work, what is the profession that helps people with that? Is that a life coach or a business coach, or do you know who actually helps with that?

    Chris Farrell [00:48:38]:

    There’s the growing business of retirement coaches. And that’s one of the things that why that business is growing, why it’s becoming more professional. So there are the retirement coaches and the retirement coach. It’s not a financial planner. They’re doing more of a holistic. A lot of them are former financial planners, but they’re not doing financial planning. So they’re trying to do a more holistic approach, how to get the most out of this next stage of your life. So retirement coaches are doing that.

    Chris Farrell [00:49:13]:

    I also think that if you live in a major metropolitan area, there’ll be your community colleges, your local colleges, your music schools. We have a wonderful art store, independent loan, art store where I live in St. Paul. All kinds of classes going on. And then you kind of do your I think probably one of the biggest pieces I always give is just ask people questions. So if you’re in one of these classes or you go to the community college, just start asking people, where are they getting their information? What are they doing? I’ve been stunned by how many people and I think it’s good we’ll go on YouTube and learn how to do things right. But I do think, as a profession, the retirement coaches, that’s what’s really moved, trying to answer your question, the financial planning industry was a new profession in the post World War II period, right? And now I think what the retirement coaches are kind of trying to model themselves on that create a new profession, as with the aging of the population. And more and more people have these questions about what’s next? What’s my next chapter? How do I think that through?

    Wes Moss [00:50:29]:

    Three things our listeners can do today to figure out this next stage. Maybe it’s a corporate suit. Maybe it’s a purpose. Maybe it’s a job. As we wrap up here today with Chris Farrell, author of Purpose and Paycheck finding Meaning, Money, and Happiness in the Second Half of Life.

    Chris Farrell [00:50:49]:

    Three things. One, okay, these are going to be targeted toward people who are near retirement, okay, where the whole conversation is more realistic. So you’re a 20 or 30 year old. A lot of this is safe. You don’t know what retirement is going to be, but you know, you have to save. But let’s say you’re sort of nearing that retirement. One. Take five minutes a day.

    Chris Farrell [00:51:13]:

    Five minutes a day to write something down about what you think you’d like to do next, because introspection boy, it’s hard to find time for introspection, right? I mean, we’re all busy. You’ve got friends, family. You got to keep on technology. You got to vote. You have to exercise. You have to eat. Right? I mean, there’s all kinds of things we got to do. So introspection is hard, but take five minutes a day.

    Chris Farrell [00:51:36]:

    And Steve Jobs, in this wonderful commencement address that he did at Stanford back in 2005, he said you can only connect the dots looking back. So take five minutes a day to start connecting those dots. By the way, this is not literature. No one’s going to read it. No one cares about the grammar. It’s just about five minutes a day to think about what it is you want to do next. And second, I’m repeating myself here, but really start reaching out to your network, to people. Start that conversation, and particularly if you’re married, start that conversation with your partner to make sure that you’re on the same page.

    Chris Farrell [00:52:20]:

    And then I think the other thing is, yes, start thinking about what gives you meaning, what really matters to you, not what you think should matter. Not what I think should matter, but what is it that really does matter to you? And think about that very seriously. Take your time, because retirement planning rightfully I mean, retirement planning deals a lot with finances, right? That’s what we’re always saying, retirement planning. I’m saying this is retirement planning, but it’s a very different it’s about what I want to do next. So write some things down, talk to your network and think about meaning, think about what it is that’s really important to you and then build a life around those three know?

    Wes Moss [00:53:09]:

    And I’d love to hear from our audience, as in, in response to Chris’s book and this thought around, we’ve interviewed Nancy Colmer.

    Chris Farrell [00:53:21]:

    Oh, she’s great.

    Wes Moss [00:53:23]:

    Nancy’s great. Second act careers. We’ve had a lot of guests around. We’ve had a few guests around the space. And I really do love to hear from our audience. And I don’t think I ask about that often enough. But as I’ve gotten more and more mail email, whether it’s hey, Wes, you’re putting too much pressure on me with my core pursuits calm down. Or how you, as a listener of the Retire Sooner podcast, have utilized Chris’s Advice his book, nancy’s advice, her book and really thought through this next phase with some introspection.

    Wes Moss [00:54:05]:

    As Chris talks about thinking of this through over the core of three months, six months, a year, maybe it’s been a couple years before you decide to go back to work, for one of many reasons, perhaps, and I’d love to hear about that journey. What did you figure out? What was your next move? Is it totally different. And those are fun to think lawyer that ended up as a barista at Starbucks because I always love coffee. Or someone that went from sales in one area to part time sales in another. All of those stories, they really interest me. And I’d love to hear those here from our audience here on the Retire Sooner podcast. But with that, Chris, you are one of the very best in your field, and thank you for being here and sharing your knowledge with our listeners. So thanks for being here, man.

    Chris Farrell [00:54:54]:

    Thanks a lot. It’s really been fun. I really enjoyed it.

    Mallory Boggs [00:54:58]:

    Hey, y’all, this is Mallory with the Retire Sooner team. Please be sure to rate and subscribe to this podcast and share it with a friend. If you have any questions, you can find That’s You can also follow us on Instagram and YouTube. You’ll find us under the handle Retire Sooner podcast. And now for our show’s. Disclosure this information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations.

    Mallory Boggs [00:55:26]:

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    Mallory Boggs [00:56:10]:

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