The Singaporean Paradox – Have You Saved For Your Retirement ?

Must read for the ordinary Singaporean, written for posterity. What is enough ?

Singaporeans now live the most number of years after leaving the workforce, according to the Global Sunset Index of 68 countries compiled by Bloomberg. In the world’s sixth-most expensive city, 41 percent of more than 1,000 residents surveyed by HSBC Holdings Plc (5) said they haven’t saved for retirement, with nearly half of them blaming living costs for hampering efforts.

Contradictions, contradictions.

Just a few months back, we read that Singaporeans are one of the richest nations per capita in the world, the healthiest and one of the most unhappiest.

In the Bloomberg article, we have many retirees struggling to make ends meet after investing the bulk of their savings in homes. Yet we have Singapore as “the highest-ranked Asian country among 18 nations in the 2012 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index compiled by Mercer International Inc. (MERC) and the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, which measures the adequacy, sustainability and integrity of retirement systems.” This is even as Singapore is the 3rd most expensive Asian city to live in and 6th globally.

This means that our fellow Asian countries will not be coping too well except that they have higher birth rates as Singapore tries hard to hit the 6.9 million mark.

“It’s becoming a country where only the very rich will age in a very dignified way,” said Devasahayam, who has published papers on the nation’s policies for the elderly. “The inflation is just impossible to catch up. When you think you’ve saved enough, things keep going up and then you just find you still do not have enough.”

It makes me very confused.

Wealthy Old Friend (who was mentioned in Coffee Talk : Mortgage Secrets Of Rich People) was just telling me that there were long queues into Chanel and LV at Ngee Ann City yesterday and it appears there are no signs of any slow down in consumption which rings the right bell with our latest retail sales number for February, beating market expectations.

Lee warned in his August National Day Rally address that Singapore will need to raise taxes in the next two decades as the government boosts social spending to support an aging population. He pledged to ensure sufficient affordable housing for citizens and add nursing homes for the elderly, while proposing measures to boost the country’s birth rate.

Should we be thinking twice about that new Chanel ? Or should we be thinking twice about saying NO to 6.9 million ? Bring in the taxes to ease our own burdens so we can still buy those Chanels ?

I am Singaporean. I want my cake and want to eat it. I want to earn more so I can buy more cake than my neighbour. I want a cheap luxury car and uncongested roads. I want the designer clothes and the latest I Pad. And I want to have at least 2 properties and latest bonds in my portfolio so I can boast about it over dinner. I want my kid to have the best celebrity tutor and golf coach. Trouble is that the rest wants the same.


I cannot live it up forever and I will not be stupid to buy insurance policies for my retirement because they do not work and you will be lucky to just get your money back on a small return. And most of all, I am not here to tell you how to save for your own retirement or tell you how to live. If work is the only way you can sustain your lifestyle, then work you must. Work will stop one day, unexpected bills will hit one day, but you may also win the lottery.

A Happy And Stress Free Life

Try for it.

Americans “snapping” by the millions – an interesting article I read recently with a pinch of salt. The facts are probably true although I do not agree with some of the analyses, particularly the anti Obama diatribe. The fact is that Obama is just an ordinary man elected by the people for the people and he can quit anytime (Ministers in Europe are resigning as we speak).

Suicide rates are climbing along with the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Psychotic drug abuse and addiction for mental illnesses on the rise.

I hate to be Obama right now, or any world leader for that matter. It sucks.

What I Can Do

Write. Write about the experiences of people, share expertise on financial products without infringing the financial advisory embargo, expose certain flaws, risks and mis-pricings in the products that are out there (marketed by financial advisors) and, hopefully, just hopefully, we can make the world a better place.

Have a good week ahead.

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