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18 Nov 2021
SOURCE: CPF Board
Imagine this: you're an adventurer who has discovered a new island and you want to settle down on it. The island has all the natural resources that one can reasonably want, and the only challenge that stands in your way is this: how can you make the best use of the resources on this island so that you will be able to enjoy your time on it?
If you've watched survival films before, your first thought will be to secure the bare necessities to keep yourself alive. But unlike those films, your plan is to settle down on the island, not leave it. So simply having enough to survive will not be the end goal; you want to make yourself comfortable too - a notion we pursue in life as well.
In many ways, life is like this imaginary island: it provides you with abundant resources, and you can choose to make the most of it over the course of your stay here. But can you really approach living life in the same way you do living on an island? As it turns out, whether you approach your life’s island like Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away by just surviving, or opt for a more lavish lifestyle, our handy little triple-S guide can help you with that!
Step 1: Survive
Well, not so dramatic, but you get the idea. The first things that you have to source for on any island are food and water - in other words, what will satisfy your most basic needs. And the same goes with your money.
Before you spend your hard-earned money on creature comforts, you should first put aside a portion of it to cover your basic necessities. These include simple things like food, shelter, electricity, water, clothes to keep you warm, and medications. Ideally, you will want to have a little extra in case some expenses exceed your estimations. When it comes to savings, having 'sufficient' is not enough. Always give yourself some breathing room!
Luckily, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. From the moment you get your first paycheque, CPF is there to help you save for your future needs. But these funds aren’t only for your retirement; they can also be used for housing and medical bills!
Step 2: Secure a safety net
Once your basic needs are taken care of, you'd want to plan for the longer term. After all, if you find a source of food and water on your island, you should find a way to store them so when unforeseen circumstances like bad weather assails the island, you don't have to worry about losing your food sources.
Life works in the same way. While we do have the freedom to spend all our money the moment we receive it, life can be unpredictable. Accidents can happen without warning, and sometimes they can put a huge dent in your savings as medical expenses for surgery and hospitalisation add up. These not only cost a lot but they can hamper our ability to work and can cause a loss of income. And that's where the safety net comes in.
After setting aside a portion of your income for your bare necessities, you can start to build a 'safety net' that will cover you on a rainy day. If you have yet to start, a practical solution will be to build these emergency funds bit by bit over a period of time, so that you can be covered in an emergency situation. The important thing is to pace yourself, so you don't over commit to just building your safety net and end up having no money to spend on yourself!
Besides setting aside your income, you can consider strengthening your safety net with insurance. You already have a basic safety net in the form of MediShield Life, which is a health insurance plan that helps pay for large medical bills and selected costly outpatient treatments, such as dialysis and chemotherapy for cancer. Set aside some time to think about the other areas you wish for your safety net to cover, and find a suitable insurance plan out there to strengthen that net!
Step 3: Spend within your means
Now that we've secured our essentials and prepared ourselves for the unexpected, what can we do with the resources we have left? Well, why not spend it? Going back to our island analogy, after you have made it possible to live on the island, why not make it more comfortable?
With all the important things covered, it's fine to treat yourself and use your income on the things you want, rather than need. But that's not to say you should just go on a shopping spree and buy everything
that catches your fancy; it's still important to have a budget in mind so that your spending does not eat into the savings you have set aside! This also applies to purchases where the payments are in instalments, such as subscription services and cars. If you cannot comfortably pay those instalments, take a step back and consider delaying your purchase until you have more leeway to do so.
When you are working and receiving a steady income, spending and saving doesn’t seem so hard. But what happens then when you retire? Well, you don't have to worry about that, thanks to CPF LIFE. CPF LIFE is a national longevity insurance annuity scheme that insures you against running out of your retirement savings, by providing you with a monthly payout no matter how long you live. And the best part: CPF LIFE has three different plans for you to choose from depending on the retirement lifestyle you want! But do note that the monthly payout will differ among persons as it is dependent on the CPF savings that you have set aside.
On the island we call 'life', some factors may not be within our control. However, the decisions we make and our actions to plan ahead can help us tackle some of these uncertainties, by keeping us prepared for when the unexpected occur. The three 'S'es can be your first steps towards being prepared for anything life may throw at you, so long as you take the lessons to heart!
Make the right moves early and you may find life to be a luxurious resort that provides you with the greatest enjoyment for a long time.