Whenever I read a sci-fi story that involves extended longevity, either through cloning, genetics or some fantastical solution, I smile and say to myself, "These folks must have also solved boredom and the problem of money!" Nowadays, the question isn't whether we will 'live long' but rather, will we 'live long
and prosper'? Because living to 100 means having to feed, clothe and care for ourselves for
15 years more than the
average Singaporean's life expectancy of about 85 years.
Just think about it: Will I have enough money in my 90s? Can I even count on my children who could be in their 60s to 70s by then? How much will healthcare cost in the future? These are some of the imponderables we need to face now so as to deal with the all-too-plausible eventuality of becoming a centenarian.
Income for life
Stop griping and start thinking about how to maximise your savings and retirement plans, so that you are able to reap an income for life. After all, if you're going to live to 100, you'd want to ensure that you'd be able to enjoy your later years, without having to worry about your finances.
One way to get started is by looking into maximising your CPF returns. Think of your CPF as the foundation upon which your retirement plan is built.
CPF LIFE, you will be getting monthly payouts for as long as you live. How much you receive each month depends on how much is in your CPF accounts when you turn 55, as that is when your Ordinary and Special Accounts are transferred to your Retirement Account, which in turn becomes your CPF LIFE nest egg. In short, the more you put in earlier, the more you will receive in monthly returns from age 65 onwards. So if you can, do top-up your CPF account before you reach 55.
And do you know that if you choose to defer your payouts up to age 70, each additional year translates to an increase of up to 7% in your payouts?
If you are looking at going beyond what you will get from CPF LIFE, you should consider active financial planning to ensure that you have a suitable monthly income for the lifestyle you want to have.
Almost nobody works 20–30 years for one company anymore. If we are to stay productive and continue to earn money into our 60s, we have to keep our skills relevant and in demand while in our 40s and 50s. That means keeping an open mind towards change and continuous learning. You may know of an older colleague who learned SMS on button phones but refuses to deal with smartphone chat apps. Can you and I afford such an attitude today?
The good news is, with the evolving nature of technology, there is an increasing number of ways to go about learning new things. Several subsidies are also available to encourage continuous learning – so take advantage of these early and cultivate a habit for learning. Start now and find out more about the different courses and subsidies offered to your age group on
Stay Healthy and Worry Free
First of all, don't skip your annual health checks. Ignorance is not bliss—it is very expensive! It is always better to catch any signs of trouble at an early stage; waiting until it has become apparent may require more costly forms of treatment with a lesser chance of a good outcome.
It is also of key importance that you have adequate healthcare coverage in place. This should be drawn up after understanding your needs, as everyone's healthcare requirements and preferences vary. Do also take some time to study the various plans available before making a decision.
You should also familiarise yourself with
MediShield Life. It is a basic health insurance plan that protects all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents against large medical bills for life, regardless of age or health condition. If you wish to have additional coverage, you can consider
seeking out an Integrated Plan (IP) from an approved insurer, especially while you are in good health. But do remember that your premiums for an IP will increase with age, so do think about the affordability of the plan in the long run.
See below for a quick illustration of how an IP works with Medishield Life.
Make your golden years worthwhile
Having too much time and not knowing what to do with it is not a trivial matter. You might be dreaming of all of the things you can do with the freedom that retirement brings, but have you thought about what exactly you're going to do with all that free time on your hands?
Good planning is a good way to ensure a purposeful, worthwhile retirement. From that big holiday you've been dreaming of for years, to the mundane everyday activities, the key is to plan to make it all a reality! You can start with the 'big picture' of deciding what you'd like to do, whether it's to take up a hobby, attend courses, or volunteer with a charitable group. The next step would be to take care of the little details that go into actualising these plans, such as ensuring that you have sufficient funding and resources. This ensures that you're truly ready to step into your golden years when the time comes.
Living to 100, or any time longer than expected, may not be the storybook ending we had imagined in our youth. But it need not be all doom and gloom either, if we take charge of our lives. With longer life expectancy, more of our friends may be around to keep us company. We will also be able to spend more time with the younglings, if we are blessed with grandkids.
Most of all, with the right attitude, we can also ensure that those extra years of life will be filled with dignity, purpose and optimism. A little bit of foresight and prudent planning are all it takes to make your retirement both purposeful and enjoyable.
Nick Tay is a former video producer turned freelance writer in his mid-40s. He is currently pursuing a part-time degree in marketing and is helping his wife to run her blogshop in his spare time. He hasn't caught the Pokemon bug yet but is keen to give it go.