Real Talk: Retirees' Thoughts On Retirement In Singapore

By Balvinder Sandhu, 31 January 2020 40309

Retirement is something that many of us look forward to, when we can finally put our feet up after years of working hard. However, whether or not your retirement is comfortable depends heavily on the planning and resources you put towards your retirement. 
    
In a 2015 study , six out of 10 people said they started saving only at age 45.

In fact, starting to save late is the primary reason for the inability to retire comfortably. We spoke to some retirees to find out what retirement has been like for them. 
 

Retirement planning takes consistency and discipline 

Chan Siow Boon, 62, started saving for his retirement in his early 20s. His plan was to retire at 62 but he eventually managed to save enough to retire early, at the age of 57. 

“I didn't really have a plan as to the amount I needed for our retirement but I calculated then that the amount that we had was sufficient for us,” he said. “I was 56 at the time and the life expectancy in Singapore was 85 so that worked out to about 30 years of expenses that I needed, with three per cent inflation. As long as we had a surplus of this amount, I felt that we were safe. My wife has been a homemaker since our second child was born and now we're both enjoying our retirement together.” 



Having held a senior position in a Japanese corporation for many years, Siow Boon took a while to adjust to his retirement. “Suddenly having no income after receiving a regular salary for so many years, I felt very uncomfortable even though I had sufficient funds,” he shares. 

Siow Boon’s retirement fund comes primarily from savings he set aside through the years. He had an annual income of about $240k and he credits being able to save well to the fact that they “always lived within our means.”

These days, Siow Boon keeps himself busy with simple hobbies, such as running and bread-making. The one 'sacrifice' he had to make was selling his car, but even that was something he had planned to do as part of his retirement. 

“I had planned to let go of my car after retiring as I found that I wouldn't need it,” he said. “So I sold my car and used the money I would have spent on it for holidays instead. I travel more now, in fact, I've been on more holidays since retiring than before!”
 

Advice for the younger generation

Frankie Wong, 72, has also been enjoying more travel since he retired six years ago. A fan of driving and road trips, he once spent two months driving from coast to coast, across America. 

 He ran a trading business before he retired and his retirement fund comes from his savings as well as the profits he made from selling one of his properties. 

“I'm most thankful that I have enough money every month to cover my expenses and that I can take my wife on holidays,” says Frankie, and he’s quick to dole out more sage advice for those still working.

“Before you stop working, calculate how much money is enough to keep you comfortable. If you think that you can't support yourself, it's best to keep working. The important thing is to have enough money to support you in your old age, we shouldn't depend on our children to do so.” Well said, we say!

But he warns, money is not everything – it’s just as important to look after your mental and physical health.

“Once you're retired, you should keep yourself occupied and do what you enjoy,” he adds, “If you have no time to relax in your life, then it's not meaningful.” 
 

Making sure you have enough

The study also revealed that 65 per cent of retirees aged 60 to 69 feel that their savings will not last throughout retirement. Therefore, 35 per cent of retirees are still working to fund their retirement years. 

Fong Meng, 62, only started planning for her retirement in her 40s but thankfully managed to reach her savings goal and retire a few months ago. The former business owner made sure that all loans were paid off and that they had the protection they needed in case of hospitalisation or medical emergencies, and that she had sufficient savings for day-to-day expenses. When she got to this stage, she felt she was ready to retire.

Her retirement fund comes from savings, insurance and investments and seems to have worked out well for her – she says she hasn't had to give up anything and is quite happy with her retirement so far. 

To those who are still working, she advises: “When you're young, you have to work hard but you also have to save and invest too, as this could double or triple your income as compared to leaving your money in a bank. Do your research and pick an investment that works best for you.”

Frankie echoed her sentiments. “When you're younger, it's the best time to make as much money as possible and if you have the money, invest,” he said. “But you should look at your own circumstances and judge for yourself. No two people or lives are the same so see what works best for you.”

Preparing for retirement is one of the most important things everyone should do. Get over the potential bumps of retirement by planning early. If you're not sure where to start or what you should do to maximise your retirement income, connect with an advisor today for personalised analysis and help. Speak to an advisor online or consult our digital advisor, Sage


^The research was commissioned by NTUC Income and conducted by Nielsen in 2015.


    

Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

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