Retirement Case Studies: The Blue-Collar Worker

After nearly twenty years of retirement planning experience, helping thousands of people retire, we have noticed patterns regarding the way retirement affects someone based on the characteristics of their job, vocation or background. This case study is on blue-collar workers. Blue-collar workers’ viewpoint on work, leisure and money makes them prime candidates to struggle with retirement if done incorrectly.  However, there are specific things a blue-collar worker can do to make sure the transition into retirement is smooth and fulfilling.

Meet Jim, a blue-collar worker

In Repurposed: The Untold Story of Retirement in America, Ben Taatjes talks about a blue-collar worker named Jim. At the time, Jim was 62 years old. He came to Ben wanting to know if he was going to be able to retire when he turned 65 years old. After meeting Jim and crunching the numbers, it was clear to Ben that Jim didn’t have to wait three more years to retire. Instead, he could retire right now. Jim took Ben’s advice and put in his two-week notice shortly thereafter.

During Jim’s next meeting, Ben knew something was awry. Three months into Jim’s retirement, Ben noticed he had aged significantly, moved slower and didn’t have the zest for life he had prior to retirement. Instead of granting Jim and his wife the gift of an early retirement, Ben quickly realized his advice actually stole something away – causing more problems than good.

Jim taught us that preparing well for retirement consists of far more than just financial stability, thus, helping pave the way to develop this concept of being Repurposed.

What is a blue-collar worker?

Wikipedia defines a blue-collar worker as “a working-class person who performs manual labor. Blue-collar work may involve skilled or unskilled labor. The type of work may involve manufacturing, warehousing, mining, excavation, electricity generation and power plant operations, electrical construction and maintenance, custodial work, farming, commercial fishing, logging, landscaping, pest control, food processing, oil field work, waste collection and disposal, recycling, construction, maintenance, shipping, driving, trucking and many other types of physical work. Blue-collar work often involves something being physically built or maintained.” (

What are common characteristics of blue-collar workers?

*Task-Oriented: Blue-collar workers thrive on getting the job done. They feed off of production and enjoy crossing tasks “off of the list”.

*Moving and active: Blue-collar workers rarely sit in one place. The pure nature of their work makes them active and mobile.

*Used to routine: Not always, but many blue-collar workers have a set schedule and guardrails they are used to following day-to-day.

*Around other people: Even though blue-collar workers may be doing certain tasks alone, rarely will they go entire workdays without interacting with co-workers or customers.

How does a blue-collar worker view retirement?

Unfortunately, blue-collar workers can fall victim to the retirement lie: you have to retire. Oftentimes, blue-collar workers don’t retire because they want or need to, rather, because of societal pressure. Blue-collar workers believe they can still do the job, but others are always asking them, “When are you going to hang it up?” Blue-collar workers may not always long for retirement like other people. They are usually content individuals – and their work is a major source of that contentment.

How does a blue-collar worker view leisure?

Blue-collar workers don’t have a problem resting or enjoying vacation time. However, they view rest as a result of hard work. Rest is earned. A vacation is deserved. And while vacations are fun, there’s a sense of comfort when it’s time to get back to work.

How does a blue-collar worker view money?

Money to a blue-collar worker is a tool. They know they need to make money to buy things, support their family and have a functional life. However, money isn’t the focus of life and they are not typically money-driven.

What can a blue-collar worker do to prepare for retirement?

First and foremost, blue-collar workers need to understand the levity of retirement. It is a major life-change. Don’t rush the decision. Blue-collar workers need to make the call when they are going to retire. Don’t let social pressure persuade the decision. Blue-collar works should find ways can recreate the contentment they find in work prior to retirement. Understand retirement can be done slowly, in steps – not cold turkey. Also, consider the relationship with a spouse and ways this drastic change in schedule and daily routine will affect their marriage.

Retirement can be a great thing for blue-collar workers.

Plan accordingly!

Want more?

Listen to the full episode of Retire Repurposed here:

Retired Repurposed Available on Apple Podcasts

Jerrid Sebesta

Co-Founder of Retire Repurposed

Co-Founder of Retire Repurposed Jerrid Sebesta