How can I be prepared for retirement?

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Preparing for a secure retirement - a real life story

Without the assurance and stability of a regular stream of income after retirement, are you confident of retiring on just your savings and investments?

If that prospect is terrifying to you, you might want to first consider your needs for the future and plan accordingly. Better yet, hear from someone who’s already embarked on her journey towards a secure retirement.

We spoke with Mdm Salamah Abdol to find out how she plans for her retirement with the CPF Life Scheme, and to find out how others who have retirement on the horizon can achieve a comfortable retirement too.

"Investing or saving is sometimes easier said than done, especially for those who do not have large incomes. My family members aren’t rich people either, but they make it a point to save, especially for emergencies.
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Q: Tell us more about yourself, and what your journey towards retirement has been like so far.

A: I’m now 55, and I am the manager of the Al-Ansar Mosque. My job involves planning activities and initiatives to connect and help the community. Previously, I was a supervisor at a kindergarten. I’ve also been doing volunteer work for the past 30 years. I learned most of my skills for my current job from my volunteer work; I learned how to be a mediator, problem solver, and counselor, among other roles.

Q: How do you plan for retirement?

A: In the beginning, I never planned to work for such a long time. I didn’t worry much in the past about my financial situation or retirement funds, even CPF, because I have a responsible husband who takes care of that for me. He’s forward thinking and careful with money, so he keeps the future in mind and plans for it, making sure that we have insurance, and investments to boost our funds for the future. Because of that, his financial savvy has rubbed off on me as well. Aside from saving and investing for my children’s education, which is very important to me, I also invest for my own retirement needs now.

Q: What are some good habits to adopt when building a retirement fund?

A: I think the most important thing is to spend within your means. With that mindset, and with proper financial planning, you can still maintain an enjoyable and comfortable lifestyle, and even travel perhaps once each year.

When it comes to investing, I don’t have a large risk appetite. If I have enough money for today, tomorrow, and the distant future, I’m happy. I don’t plan to make a lot of money or get rich fast. I just need an adequate amount to retire comfortably on, and to enable me to keep doing what I love – helping my community.

Another thing is to not get yourself in too much debt. For many years, I chose not to have credit cards because despite their convenience. I don’t like the concept of spending first and then paying for it later. The financial commitment can really tie you down.

Q: What were some helpful tools or resources you used in planning for retirement?

A: I made it a point to educate myself and keep an eye out for useful financial tools or information. Such information is actually available everywhere. I looked in the papers, asked around my community, and of course it helps that my family is also keen on financial matters like saving and investing. I convinced my siblings to start saving; my children are grown up now and they also invest.

Q: How difficult is it to build a retirement fund or plan for one?

A: I believe that the government has a lot of good schemes in place to help us. Through CPF, the proportions to save have already been thought out for us. With this, we have guidance on how much to save, as well as to spend wisely. It’s a good plan, and makes preparing for retirement less scary.

Investing or saving is sometimes easier said than done, especially for those who do not have large incomes. My family members aren’t rich people either, but they make it a point to save, especially for emergencies. 

Q: What does security in retirement mean to you?

A: Simple. I want to age gracefully and happily. I want to have enough money to spend time with my children and grandchildren, bring them out to eat, these kinds of simple things. I want to be able to do these things without having to ask others for financial help. In short, I want to be financially independent.

If Mdm Salamah has inspired you to start or enhance your own retirement plans, the CPF website is a good starting point to find out more about the schemes and programmes available.

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