Retirement planning in Singapore can require a bit of number crunching. With the current rate of inflation, it’s crucial to calculate whether you’ll have enough to retire when the time comes.
In OCBS’s 2023 Financial Wellness report, they conducted a survey with working adults aged 21 to 65 years old on their preferred retirement lifestyle. Surveyees were presented with three different retirement lifestyles to choose from with three different price tags. These retirement lifestyles ranged from basic and essential to luxurious. Participants were then asked what their preferred retirement lifestyle was.
Retirement Lifestyle B is more of a middle ground. With such a lifestyle, one would own and live in a HDB flat, commute by private transport, be able to consume a combination of private and public health care, employ a part time domestic helper and take regional holidays up to three times a year.
The more luxurious Retirement Lifestyle C entails owning and living in a private property, driving a high-end car, consuming private healthcare, employing a full-time domestic helper, enjoying lifestyle and wellness experiences and being able to take long-haul international holidays up to two times a year.
The Results Are In — Singaporeans Prefer A More Comfortable Retirement Lifestyle
The survey found that of the participants, 24% preferred Lifestyle C (S$6,020 per month in expenses), 41% preferred Lifestyle B (S$3,355), and 25% preferred Lifestyle A (S$2,665).
Also notable is how this trend has changed over time. While the percentage of those who preferred Retirement Lifestyle C has largely remained unchanged from 2021 to 2023, the percentage of those who preferred the middle ground Retirement Lifestyle B increased by 3%, from 38% in 2020 to 41% in 2023.
Is S$6,000 Enough?
One question this survey results raises is, are the calculations done by OCBC truly representative of the cost of living at the point of retirement? For simplicity, OCBC calculated the costs of the three retirement lifestyles using today’s prices. However, with the levels of inflation experienced today, it is likely that people’s purchasing power will be eroded by the time they actually retire.
Singapore, like the rest of the world, is currently experiencing high levels of inflation. In a report released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for Jan 2024, MAS core inflation — a measure of inflation that excludes the cost of accommodation and private transport — was 4.2% for 2023 as a whole.
The CPI-All Items Inflation, a measure of inflation that includes accommodation and private transport, eased in Q4 2023 from the preceding quarter. The easing in accommodation inflation as the supply of completed housing units increased has helped to offset rising private transport inflation amid higher petrol prices. Overall, CPI-All Items inflation averaged 4.8% in 2023, down from 6.1% in the preceding year.
Singapore historically has seen inflation rates of -1.8% to 22.4%, with an average of 2.5% per year between the years 1961 and 2021.
Assuming a year-on-year inflation rate of 4.2%, S$6,000 in 2024 will be S$18,986 in 2052. This means that for a 37-year-old today to enjoy their desired retirement lifestyle by the age of 65, after adjusting for inflation, they would incur more than S$18k in monthly expenditure.
The good news is, inflation has gone down since 2022 and is projected to fall further in the long term. If we look back 30 years, according to the MAS’s inflation calculator, Singapore has experienced a historical compounded inflation rate of 1.5%. This represents a 53.89% increase in wages required to maintain the same level of consumption. This is a much more representative estimate of how much one should budget for retirement when accounting for inflation.
Read Also: Guide to the CPF LIFE Scheme
The demographic that most prefers the luxurious retirement lifestyle are younger people in their 20s and 30s. They have the longest time horizon leading to their retirement and hence are the most impacted by inflation.
It is not enough to just save for your retirement; it is imperative that you make your idle savings work for you so that your purchasing power does not get eroded by inflation.
One way to go about doing this is by investing, either into stocks or ETFs. You can either go for undervalued stocks that will appreciate over time, or build a robust dividend stock portfolio to give yourself an additional source of passive income.
Regardless of the approach you choose, you should always be mindful of the risk involved and ensure that you are not investing more money than you feel comfortable losing into high-risk assets.
Check out our best brokerages round-up to get started on your investing journey and work towards the retirement lifestyle you desire.
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