Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Retirement Survey Results - Understanding Our Needs and How To Achieve It?

One week ago, I launched a retirement survey on my blog and said I will release the results and also write it into a blog post. Thanks to all who have done the survey. There were quite a good handful of responses which made this blog post possible. The purpose of this post is to show what other readers, like yourself, think about retirement needs and then I will provide some examples to show how we can actually achieve our targets for retirement. Let's begin.

Survey Responses

Q1: At what age do you hope to retire?

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For the first question, most people are looking to retire at the age of 50-55 years old or 55 to 60 years old. This seems to coincide with the time we would be getting our CPF at the age of 55. I guess its also a achievable age to retire after working for about 30 years or so. There are also quite a number of people who are looking to retire at the age of 40-50 years old. Let's see how is this possible in the later part of this post.

Q2: How much do you think you need per month when you retire?

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For question 2, people generally think they need about $2000-$3000 per month for retirement. There are mixed responses where some think they need $1000-$2000 per month while others think they need $3000-$4000 per month. I guess this depends on individual lifestyle and preferences. We will look at how to achieve our desired monthly income for retirement too.

Q3: How much savings do you think you need by the time you retire?

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For question 3, it seems like most people believe they need at least 1 Million dollars to retire. Some felt they just need about $500,000 to $1 Million.

Q4: Choose which instrument you would use in order to reach your retirement goals (Select all that is relevant):

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For question 4, most people feel they can use a variety of instruments to reach their retirement goals. Stocks and CPF savings are 2 of the best instruments which people feel they could use.

Q5: Do you worry you would not have enough money for retirement?

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For question 5, most people are worried about having not enough for retirement. I guess its very hard to know what will happen in the future so people are generally worried. However, I think if we plan well ahead and have more information on how to achieve our retirement goals, it will be much better for us.

Achieving our retirement goals

In summary, the survey results show that most of us want to retire around age 55 with a monthly income of $2000-$3000 and we think we will need $1 Million in order to achieve that. Let's say if we start saving and investing at the age of 25, how much must we save to achieve that? How about if we start later, can we still achieve our retirement goals?

The Millionaire Dollar Grid

I came across this million dollar age grid from fourpillarfreedom.com. I love the grid because it shows very clearly how we can achieve our goals in just one grid.

This grid assumes you start with $0 and your savings are invested at a 7% annual interest rate. Let's take for example you start at age 25 saving $16,000 a year and investing it at a 7% annual interest rate, you can achieve $1 Million dollars at the age of 50.

Even at 50 years old, if you manage to save and invest $40,000 a year, you can become a millionaire at age 65. But, do we really need a Million dollars to achieve $2000-$3000 per month income during our retirement years?

Getting the monthly income for our retirement

There are a few methods for drawing income for retirement. The first is drawing out from our lump sum savings for our monthly needs until it runs out. This is what a lot of people have done. $1 Million dollars will only last 27 years if we draw out $3000 every month.

The second method is to get a monthly income through an annuity. We pay a fixed amount of money to buy into an annuity then get monthly payments when we retire. In Singapore, all of us are enrolled into a national annuity called CPF life. Through the survey, CPF savings was one of the top choices which many of us will be using for retirement. Through the CPF life scheme, a sum of $249,000 at age 55 will get us a monthly payout of about $1860 to $2000 when we reach 65 years old. This will be paid to us all the way until death. It seems like we don't need $1 Million to get a comfortable income of about $2000.

The only problem I guess people have with CPF is the payout age is too late. It would be better if there is some kind of payment before age 65 but I guess we would need a lot more savings in the account to get the same payout if that ever happens. Nevertheless, I still think CPF life is a good income stream for our retirement. For us who want to have some income stream before age 65, we would have to plan something additional which leads me to the third method.

The third method to get monthly income is through investing in good dividends stocks. When we have accumulated some savings, we can invest and get some income through dividends. Let's just use 4% as a safe margin for dividends. If we have $1 Million in cash and invest to get 4% dividends, this would translate into $3333 per month for us. The problem is $1 Million may be somehow hard to achieve for some people.

The combination strategy for retirement

I've mentioned retirement a lot of times in this article but to me, achieving the savings or monthly income is not to retire and do nothing at all. Its all about having some freedom to choose what we want to do in life instead of being stressed at work because we have to work for money.

As mentioned, CPF life is one of the monthly income streams we can look forward to. However, it only pays out at age 65. We can probably have some plans to achieve a certain monthly income through stocks investing or other methods before age 65. Targeting to save $500,000 and invest at 4% interest would get us $1666 per month. This could probably be achieved before age 50. Once we reach age 65, CPF life would payout probably $2000-$3000/month depending on the sum we have in our accounts. The maximum amount in CPF now is $249,000 which pays out about $2000. By the time most young people, in their 30s currently, reach retirement age, the amounts should have adjusted upwards so they could be looking at payouts of $3000 or more. If you're reaching 55 soon, you could plan to get more than $2000 in monthly payouts. The CPF retirement sums will increase accordingly to adjust for inflation.

Achieving monthly income of $2000-$3000 shouldn't be that difficult if we use the right tools. Saving up and investing in stocks is a good way to build some passive income while CPF life also provides some stable income in our later years. If we can achieve $1 Million, it would be good but it seems like even if we did not have $1 Million dollars, we could still retire quite comfortably.

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  1. May be I personally being impacted by this shifting goal of CPF Life payout age from 55, 60, 62 to 65 before reaching 55. I smile whenever I read younger folks in their 20s or 30s mentioning CPF life payout @ 65

    1. Hi Uncle CW,

      Glad to see you back again on my blog. Haha.

      Yes indeed cpf is a useful tool especially cpf life. Young people if plan ahead will not have to worry for retirement.