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5 Ways “Late Starters” Can Prepare For Retirement NOW!

A key laying on a piece of paper with the word "retirement" on it.

Jeff Cuellar

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Are you ready for retirement? No, I’m not trying out some corny life insurance pitch on you. I’m asking a serious question. If you’re in the 25-45 age range, are you confident that you’ll be able to spend your “golden years” playing golf all day and sipping mai tais by the beach?

If you think that your Central Provident Fund (CPF) Retirement Account (RA) will be enough or you believe in any of the retirement myths Singaporeans fall for, you’re on the right track – to working past the age of 65.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Jeremy Foxon, author of the popular book A Late-Starter’s Guide to Retirement, shares some insights on what you need to do NOW to prepare for retirement.

 

1. Understand Your Financial Situation and Make a Plan

You must understand your current financial situation. If you’re living from paycheck to paycheck or you’re not keeping track of your spending, even if you earn a high income, something has to change. But before you can plan a budget, you’ll need to evaluate your monthly cash flow.

“The reality is that you only have a certain number of years to earn a ‘certain’ income working a 9-5 job. But when you get closer to retirement age, your income is determined not by a monthly salary, but by whatever you have in your CPF and savings accounts,” relates Jeremy.

Once you know exactly what you’re spending on each month, you can create a budget plan that will help you make the most of your savings. If you’re not a very good saver, reading this might help fix that.

Of course, to get the most out of your savings, investing is the best way to maximize your money.

 

2. Maximize Any Government Assistance Available

“The Singapore government has numerous programs, grants, and subsidies available for everything from purchasing an HDB flat and paying for medical expenses, to starting or upgrading your own business. The idea is that you want to use as much of the government’s money as possible instead of your own,” says Jeremy.

As Jeremy mentions, the point is that you want to maximize your retirement savings – you need to take what the government’s offering.

That means checking out what grants and subsidies the government provides for the following:

 

3. Get Your Revenue and Expenses in Balance

Do you like pie? I know that sounds like a random question to ask. But to Jeremy, it’s a state of being that represents the ultimate retirement goal for “late starters,” which is to have your passive income exceed your expenses.

That means you need to generate enough passive income to either sustain your current lifestyle or adopt a slightly lower standard of living.

No, that doesn’t mean you need to adjust to eating ramen noodles and economical rice every day. It just means that if your current lifestyle costs $5,000 a month to sustain and your passive income will only generate $4,000 a month, you’ll need to either generate more or live with less.

How do you get that passive income to sustain your lifestyle? According to Jeremy, your passive income should come from the following streams:

  • Business ownership
  • Property rental income
  • Financial investments (ETFs, bonds, equities, etc.)
  • Writing/blogging about your experiences and earning income through royalties or ads

 

4. Avoid Buying a Car!

Owning a car in Singapore is more about status than utility – it is one of the “5 C’s” after all. But you need to evaluate the long-term cost of a car against what you can be using that money for.

Ask yourself whether that car you own (or want to own) is a “need,” or a “want.” Also, think about the monthly/annual costs associated with car ownership such as:

  • Road Tax
  • Fuel Costs
  • Maintenance Costs
  • Car Insurance

Of course, the costs above come into play after you’ve already paid $100,000 to $200,000+ for the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), your car loan down payment, the Additional Registration Fee (ARF), the vehicle excise duty, and the Goods and Services Tax (GST)!

Plus, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) states in its master plan that within 16 years, 80% of homes will be within 10 minutes of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station. That will make it easier for you to avoid the hassle of car ownership and put that $100,000+ into your retirement planning instead.

 

5. Exercise and Live Healthy!

“The end goal of retirement is for you to be healthy and happy enough to enjoy it. But if your chain smoking habit or lack of exercise leads to lengthy hospital visits, you could end up losing your retirement nest egg to hospital bills. Plus, you won’t be enjoying your retirement years very much,” cautions Jeremy.

The bottom line is that if you want to live long enough to enjoy your retirement years, you need to start living a healthier life now – and that takes exercise and cutting back on some vices such as drinking and smoking.

It’ll take willpower to cut down on your vices and exercise, but don’t use the “there’s no gym nearby” excuse to not exercise. Another part of URA’s 2013 master plan includes providing parks and “green spaces” within 400 meters of 90% of Singapore’s residential areas.

So at the very least, prepare for retirement by investing in a pair of good jogging shoes so you can enjoy your golden years on a beach, and not on a hospital bed.

What are you doing to prepare for retirement? We’re sure everyone else could benefit from some sharing here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.