S71: Modest Retirees

Mature singles with limited income typically concentrated in inner-city apartments

Type of Thrifty Habits consisting of 0.68% of households and 0.41% of population

Who We Are

  • Aged 51-65
  • Household income less than $15,000
  • 1 person household
  • Renter
  • Very high level of household technology

Key Features

  • City renters
  • Frozen dinners
  • Multi-family properties
  • Modest education
  • Limited budgets
  • Shop to relax


Modest Retirees are the most economic-challenged consumers in the US, living in households found in aging city neighborhoods. Most of the adults are between 50 and 75 years old, and they’re living on their own as single, divorced or widowed individuals. They have below-average educational achievement—a high school diploma is the highest degree achieved by many and they earn minimum wages as service-sector workers. Fifteen percent of households contain a retiree, increasing the number of residents getting by on fixed incomes. In Modest Retirees, a majority of householders report incomes of less than $15,000 a year, below the poverty line.

The neighborhoods of Modest Retirees are typically filled with high- and low-rise apartment complexes. Found mostly in cities east of the Mississippi, many of these complexes were built in the urban renewal of the 1960s to 1980s, when tenement row houses in downtown ghettos were bulldozed to create new housing for the poor and disadvantaged. Today, however, these buildings are often aging and the communities are no place to sink roots and raise a family. Indeed, a majority of segment residents have lived at the same address for fewer than five years.

While Modest Retirees may be financially-challenged, these unattached singles still take advantage of city amenities, and at home, these multi-ethnic households like to listen to jazz. They are unlikely to engage in outdoor sports like fishing and hunting. These are city folks who prefer billiards to backpacking.

In the marketplace, these households cannot escape their low budgets. They often juggle credit cards to stay afloat, rarely paying off their balances each month. Modest Retirees tend to shop at local stores within walking distance of their home. They do enjoy shopping and keeping up with the latest styles, however, they are more likely to pick up necessities at a Family Dollar store. With money tight, they rarely eat out, not even at fast food restaurants and typically settle for what they can afford at the local grocery store.

Limited means in Modest Retirees result in a selective media market. They’re not big radio fans and few afford to have a newspaper delivered to their apartments. However, they enjoy TV, especially game shows, dramas and sitcoms. They go online mainly to find information and read reviews.

Modest Retirees members refuse to be defined by their economic circumstances. They’re constantly looking for better jobs and they’re trying to pursue meaningful lives that don’t require a lot of money. Politically, they tend to be moderates who support the Democratic Party.