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Why it is hard for most Singaporeans to retire early?

22 Sep 2014 
SOURCE: SG Young Investment

I was about to publish some of the post on early retirement which I wrote over the weekends until I saw an article by business times today which shows how much Singaporeans are saving? These statistics was from the recent household expenditure survey which was published last week. Most of us would already have read that average monthly household income increased to $10,500. This number was met with many sarcastic remarks on social media. We would think how can this be true when most of us do not have that kind of household income? Is their average really average?

The purpose of my post today is not to debate on whether the income figures were correct or not. Rather, it is all about the report by business times which showed another angle of that report. How much are Singaporeans saving?

Here are the saving figures:

  • The 41st-60th percentile, who are essentially the middle class, are saving about 44%.



This 44% seems to be a good savings rate but if we look closer, this savings include employer and employee CPF contributions. This is essentially not cash savings which we have in our bank. If we deduct away those CPF savings, we're left with about 9% to 15% cash savings since most of our CPF contributions is around 30%-36%. 9% savings is quite a low amount. If you calculate, saving just 10% of your income will probably take you 51 years to retire.

 

Furthermore, the figures do not include non consumption expenditure such as income taxes and house purchases. We know that house purchases make up a big chunk of our expenditure. This makes the figures rather distorted.

It is no wonder Singaporeans find it hard to retire in Singapore. Most still rely on their CPF savings but the problem is most of us also use the CPF for housing purposes. If we continue to do that, we'll always realise that we can't meet the minimum sum and can't retire comfortably.

If we want to retire early at age 55 or even earlier, then we need to have more cash savings. It is no use depending on the CPF for savings and then realise you can't take most of your money out at retirement age. CPF was structured as a social security or safety net. It is not for us to take the money out in lump sum for enjoyment in old age. If we want some enjoyment and not having to worry about not enough money, then we need to plan and save up in cash.

In the next few posts that I'll be publishing, I'll show you how most of us can retire early. Early retirement means in 10 years and possibly within 7 years. I've done up some calculations which will show you how exactly it is done. Watch out for the next posts soon.

Once you reach that stage, you can continue working but you don't have to work for money any more. You can start to work on the stuffs you love, spend more time with your family and kids and even contribute more to society. People who have enough money to retire don't usually sit there idling around. In fact, they become more motivated to produce things which are beneficial to the society as compared to when they are just working for money.

 

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