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Insights & Education

Meet Soojin, a 47-year-old pharmacist

Soojin is a 47-year-old pharmacist from Chicago. She dreams of opening her own business and, hopefully, making a big move abroad in retirement. For now, though, she and her husband are paying for their two children to get through college. Despite having saved diligently ahead of time, this makes it harder for them to save as much as they’d like for other things right now. Here Soojin shares more about how she’d like to shift her financial goals in the present, the surprising place she and her husband are getting financial advice from, and where she sees herself in the future.

Read Soojin's interview below or listen here.

Let’s start with a forward-looking question: What does your dream retirement look like?

I would love to spend some time in New Zealand. I even looked into being a pharmacist there. They have some strict immigration laws, though, but I did look into it. But, after moving to Chicago from South Korea, my husband has never left. So, he’s not as open to moving as I am.

For now, though, we’re currently supporting our two kids in college. So that’s our priority until they graduate in two and three years. Even though we opened 529s for them and saved in those consistently every month, we’re paying for a lot of things out of pocket. Once our money is freed up, I’d like to start a business.

Would you say you’re on track to make that dream come true?

I don’t necessarily have a concrete idea of how much I need, but I think we’re in a pretty good spot for our ages. My husband and I did discuss possibly retiring one person at a time. In general, men tend to die earlier than women, so I’ll probably be the one to retire later than my husband. I would like to retire earlier, but I’ve been working on that work/life balance, and I’m trying to transition more into the work that I’m passionate about. So that helps with thinking I’d work longer. You don’t know how the future’s going to unfold, but that’s where I am right now.

When you think about the steps you’ve taken so far, how much, if at all, did advice from other people factor into your decisions?

My husband is the big planner, so I’m kind of relying on him in a way. The other day, he was showing me what we currently have, when he thinks we could retire, that kind of thing. We both have 401(k)s and some stock, and I have a Roth IRA. We contribute to all of that regularly. The way I think is very different from my husband. Since I’m thinking of business ideas, I need someone who can help me strategize savings ideas for the business and retirement at the same time. Outside of that, my husband relies on YouTube a lot for financial advice, but I’m interested in getting more one-on-one help. I feel like I don’t know much about different ways to make money and ways to plan.

We also manage my in-laws’ finances in their retirement, and that’s taught us a lot. My husband’s parents, their generation, might not be well-versed in financial options. My father-in-law chose to retire early without really understanding the full picture, and because he was the decision maker, my mother-in-law retired at the same time. There was no planning. That — and my work as a patient safety advocate, advocating for the safety of caregivers and patients — has helped me become very passionate about giving equal opportunity and equity to the minority population. For example, there’s the healthcare aspect of retirement, too. Those costs can eat into retirement savings. If we don’t reduce healthcare costs, that is sure to have an impact on retirement savings for people.

What smart money moves do you think you’ve made? What would you change if you could?

I’m glad we started saving in the 529s as early as we did.

Research shows that people are living longer. Have you factored that into your plans at all?

I think that’s scary. We’ve planned to probably live to 80 or 90, but 10 years longer? Personally, I don’t want to live that long! But I know that’s the trend, so I do think about that. And being in healthcare, I get to learn more about that aspect than the outside population, and I see what can go wrong in healthcare. There are so many digital products out there these days, though, tons of resources. So, for our generation, the problem becomes knowing which resources to listen to. There’s just so much information.


These interviews are published for educational use only, and are not intended to provide financial, legal, fiduciary, accounting, or tax advice, nor are they intended to make any investment or insurance recommendations. Experiences presented may not be representative of the experiences of other individuals and there is no guarantee of similar results or success. Please consult with the appropriate legal, financial, or tax professional regarding your own financial situation and investment needs and objectives.


At the time of these interviews, the individuals interviewed were not clients, shareholders, or employees of Corebridge Financial, and no direct or indirect compensation was provided in return for such interviews. The interviews have been modified for content.

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