Recently, I took a break from work to attend a two-day workshop designed to equip older working professionals with the know-how to cope financially.

One exercise generated some surprising responses from course participants.

We were asked to work out how a 55-year old breadwinner could continue to support a homemaker wife, a son doing national service and a bedridden mother being looked after by a maid, if he loses his $7,000-a-month job.

To a hard-headed financial writer like myself, the first thing the breadwinner should do is to check if the investment strategy he uses to deploy his $700,000 CPF savings and cash can generate sufficient passive income to carry on with the lifestyle his family is used to.

But other responses were sometimes bizarre, such as the suggestion to bump off the ailing mother in order to send the maid home.

Others were hilarious, like the advice from one person who said the son should live permanently in the army barracks so his room could be rented out for extra income.

But the consensus was that the breadwinner and his wife should both try to get part-time jobs, as their $700,000 nest egg would be insufficient to last them through their golden years even though it seemed like a large sum.

There would also have to be painful adjustments to be made, such as getting rid of the family car and the maid - in short, giving up the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.

Since this exercise relates to a typical Singaporean family, it is a chilling reminder of the fate which may befall us if we fail to do proper financial planning while still gainfully employed.

It is also a problem which may become more prevalent, since Singaporeans aged between 45 and 64 make up about 29.5 per cent of the resident population.

A report released last year by the Institute of Policy Studies, based on interviews with 5,000 senior citizens in 2011, sheds some light on the financial issues faced after retirement.