Madam Florence Khoo may be getting the keys to her new four-room HDB flat in three months, but she is not worrying so much about the cost of renovation works.

Instead, the front office executive is fretting over whether this means it'll be a long time before she or her husband, a logistics manager, can consider retirement.

"It's really no joke," insists Madam Khoo, 30, who is also expecting her first baby in August.

She tells this columnist: "Well, we are happy that things are coming along nicely, but we also worry whether there's enough money for us to live comfortably."

If you do the sums, she says, it means "we'll have to slog it out for the rest of our lives".

"It's simple. We spent about $40,000 on our wedding and that was more than half our savings," she shares.

With the new flat and the baby, there aren't going to be any savings left.

She says in a sober tone: "We'd be lucky if we could set aside money for a rainy day, much less dream of retirement."

I approached Madam Khoo and several others on their thoughts of retirement after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's annual May Day Rally speech last week.

Mr Lee said that we should take a practical approach towards re-employing older workers "so that as many as possible can continue working for as long as possible".

The PM also said that many workers want to stay in their jobs even after they turn 65, and that the Government encourages this.

Under the Retirement and Re-employment Act, employers have to offer re-employment to workers who turn 62, up to age 65.

Since the May Day address, there have been plenty of views aired in the Forum pages about what employers and employees have to do, or do differently, to make this happen.

The idea of retirement, says this heartland aunty, is tempting. Especially if one is inching closer to 50 years old, like I am. A little early, you say?

Not quite, taking into consideration what a colleague shared over lunch when we were discussing how fragile life can be.

She's single and will hit 50 in another two years. Here's her thought: "I don't know how long more I can be agile, but having worked so hard for a good part of my life, I'd want to be able to enjoy it fully (before she dies or become less mobile)."

I am happy that she has this optimistic option... At the same time, I cannot help but feel a sense of envy.

I ask my husband, who is the same age as my colleague, if he can visualise us retiring by the time we hit 65.

"Impossible" was the reply.

I think my husband and many of the heartlanders are feeling a deep anxiety over retirement - whether it is actually possible with prices constantly marching north and with our savings.

Unlike way back when there were pensions and with that, fixed monthly incomes, most of us now rely on our savings for the future.

As one lady told me rather truculently, "I can't rely on the fact that my kids will support me and give me money when I am older, can I?"

Most, like my husband and Mr Lim Teck Choon, 51, who runs his own firm providing printing services, are worried about the money we have to put aside for our kids, especially for their education.

Our children are 14 and 12.

Mr Lim's are 15 and nine.

He says: "I must be sure that I can set aside money to support my sons in their studies for as far as they can go.

"And even if they go out into the working world, there's no guarantee now that it means life is going to be easy."

Mr Lim points out discouraging factors such as the rat race, a growing competition for jobs and the increasingly high standard of living. "Honestly, the word 'retirement' does not exist at all for me," he says.

Mr Sulaiman Zaiton, 49, a factory worker,

He counts himself fortunate that he has only another 10 years to go until the loan for his three-room HDB flat is fully paid.

"I don't take my children for long vacations or far, at most we travel to Malaysia or Bangkok," he says. And those trips are only possible if he gets a 13-month bonus when the company does well.

puts it best when he expresses worry about whether he will have enough savings to consider retiring. "We have to count every cent we spend and I can tell you honestly there are times when my wife (who works as a clerk) and I cannot set aside even $100 a month," he adds.

With this anxiety in mind, I asked Ms Pasty Chen, 38, for her views. The financial planner recommends prudent investments such as insurance, especially for parents who have young kids.

She says: "There are certain investments that can help you protect the well-being of your children. Many of us tend to think that saving for our retirement can wait because we are too caught up in our current spending routine.

"But there are definitely advantages of planning early, which essentially means you have a longer window of time to watch the savings grow."

Perhaps Ms Chen is right.

But this heartland auntie cannot help feeling that most of us are prone to resolving the immediate issues, especially when that next bill is about to arrive.

Will we have enough money to set aside?

As retiree Charles Beh, 70, says: "I regretted not saving up when I was younger."

Adds the former technician: "When you are earning about $1,700 to feed a family of six, how much can you save?" "It's good."

I seriously doubt it is that easy.

While it is hard, worrying about retirement is not going to make it any easier.

Perhaps it is now about making sure that we are, at the very least, aware of our financial standing and what we hope to do in the future.

It sounds like common sense - if you don't plan for yourself, who else is going to help you?