How I Grow My CPF Today For My Future Retirement

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The start of the year always gets Heartland Boy in a pensive mood. It gets even more poignant now that he has a kid in tow. This has fuelled his belief that securing his own retirement could be one of the best gifts for his daughter in the future. That has inevitably become one of his new year resolutions. In order to do that, he employs a multi-pronged approach. The core pillars that support his retirement cashflow will be: (1) dividend income from his investment portfolio, (2) withdrawals from Supplementary Retirement Scheme and, (3) CPF LIFE payouts.

There is no denying that securing one’s retirement will definitely be a long-drawn process. Heartland Boy is acutely aware of that. There were times when Heartland Boy felt that he was further away from his goal than before. This often left him dejected and deflated. However, a recent encounter with a relative inspired and convinced him that securing his future retirement with CPF is entirely plausible.

Annual Interest Income of $30K From CPF Board

Heartland Boy has an extremely frugal relative who earns close to $30,000 in annual interest from his CPF funds. To have that kind of interest income, the relative would probably have approximately $800,000 to a cool million dollars sitting in his CPF accounts! Heartland Boy learnt that this amount was accumulated through a combination of savings and a staunch refusal to utilise his Ordinary Account (‘OA’) funds to buy a second property. Given that he is (i) past the age of 55 and (ii) has set aside the Full Retirement Sum (‘FRS’) in his Retirement Account (‘RA’), this relative can withdraw the remaining savings in his OA and Special Account (‘SA’) at any time. After almost 4 decades of hard work, he is now finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

For instance, on rare occasions when he takes his family on vacations, he would dip into his CPF funds. Yet, he is so prudent such that he never withdraws more than the total interest he earns in his SA and OA. This means that his CPF balances only grow stronger with each passing year.

Having seen how he is able to lead a stress-free life in Singapore and rely on his CPF savings in retirement, Heartland Boy is inspired to be like him one day. More importantly, this episode reaffirms a few things to Heartland Boy:

• Compounding interest is indeed the 8th wonder of the world as coined by Warren Buffet
• Delayed gratification, i.e., starting early in your retirement planning, will allow you to enjoy the sweet fruits of labour later in life

3 Things Heartland Boy Has Done With His CPF

Heartland Boy is only 30 this year and knows that time is on his side. He has many years left for compound interest to work its magic. To make that happen, he has performed 3 simple steps with his CPF.

1. Cash Top Up Into His MediSave Account

Whenever Heartland Boy receives his annual variable bonus, he makes it a point to set aside a sum to deposit into his MediSave Account (‘MA’). This is because funds in his MA earn up to 5%* interest and qualifies him for tax relief (provided certain conditions are met). His eventual target is to grow the MA quickly to reach the Basic Healthcare Sum. Once the Basic Healthcare Sum has been reached, Heartland Boy will no longer be able to top up his MA, but subsequent MA contributions from his salary and employer will be funnelled into his SA. Once the SA has reached FRS, future MA contributions and interest will overflow into OA. These will help to turbo-charge the growth engines of SA and OA so that he will have more funds for retirement eventually.

Question and Answer

* Including an extra 1% interest paid on the first $60,000 of a member’s combined CPF balances, with up to $20,000 from the OA. Members aged 55 and above will receive an additional 1% extra interest on the first $30,000 of their combined balances, with up to $20,000 from the OA.

2. Transfer Funds From Ordinary Account To Special Account

2014 marked a major milestone in Heartland Boy’s life. He proposed to his girlfriend that year and they successfully balloted for a HDB flat.

Once Heartland Boy paid the initial 5% deposit for his BTO, he transferred some funds from his OA to SA**. In fact, he has been doing this every year for the last 4 years. This is because funds in SA earn up to 5*% interest rate while funds in OA only earn up to 3.5*% interest rate. Collecting more interest today will no doubt help to grow the CPF funds quicker. Today, he has already crossed the halfway line as his SA finally breached the six-digit mark after 4 years of hard work.

3. Cash Top Up To His Special Account

If Heartland Boy still has excess cash lying around (which is sadly not often the case), he would choose to perform a Retirement Sum Top-Up. He is allowed to do this as long as his SA balance** is less than the current FRS. In addition, by making a cash contribution to his SA, he gains tax relief*** once again. You can tell that he likes to perform activities that allows him to kill two birds with one stone.

** Including the amount withdrawn from SA for investment.
*** Cash top-ups can be made to any recipient who is Singaporean or a permanent resident. You can enjoy tax relief of up to $7,000 per calendar year if you are topping up for yourself and additional tax relief of up to $7,000 per calendar year if you are topping up for your parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandparents-in-law, spouse and siblings. For other terms and conditions on tax relief, please refer to the section on the benefits of topping up here.

Question and Answer

Secure Your Retirement With CPF Today

4 years have passed since Heartland Boy started to optimise his CPF funds. There are certainly small signs of encouragement. For instance, his SA has already crossed the six-digit mark. He is also receiving approximately 1/5 of what his relative receives in annual interest from CPF. On hindsight, his only regret was not knowing this powerful information much earlier in his life. It is often stated that the future is closer than you think. Heartland Boy encourages everyone to start to think about their future retirement today. No matter how small the steps are, they all count at the end of the day. Do not procrastinate as what we do today will impact how we live our future.

Disclaimer: This article is written in collaboration with CPF but the views expressed here are entirely his own.