What paying it forward means to our CPF volunteers

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28 April 2023


CPF volunteers Xuan Yu, Vivien and Yin Wah

What drives someone to volunteer, to devote one’s time to others without expecting anything in return? Sometimes, the answer lies in the community. When one receives help from those around them, he may feel a sense of obligation to give back to the community and help others too.


Of course, it’s not just solely about giving back to the community. As demonstrated by the experiences of our CPF volunteers, volunteering also allows them to grow as individuals. With so many volunteering opportunities out there though, you may ask: why volunteer with CPF Board ? What exactly does the CPF Volunteering (CPFV) Programme mean to them? We asked three CPF volunteers about their experiences and what they had to say about it.

For Xuan Yu, volunteering is a shared life journey.

CPF volunteer Xuan Yu attending workshops

While it’s certainly possible to manage your finances on your own , it’s never a bad idea to rely on others, especially when help is being readily offered. Offering that helping hand is precisely why Xuan Yu volunteers with the Board, as he finds his purpose in helping others secure their own financial futures.


When it comes to volunteering with CPF, it is to help others be better equipped and empowered to manage their own retirement planning, starting with their CPF savings. This means learning to better utilise the resources and planning services readily provided by the Board, such as the CPF Mobile app and the various CPF tools and calculators.


Xuan Yu also sees his volunteering as a way to connect with people. He hopes that the people he helps will also pay it forward, creating a ripple effect where the community can help each other and improve together.


His positive thoughts about CPF may come off as surprising, as his first experience learning about CPF was not a positive one. In 2018, Xuan Yu unfortunately lost his father to cancer. In that same year, his father had sought to get his affairs in order before he passed, and one of the things he decided to do was make a CPF nomination to help his family. It was through this that Xuan Yu first came to know about CPF nominations, which prompted him to do research on CPF for himself.


Through his research, Xuan Yu understood that CPF is a system that helped Singaporeans plan for the various milestones in life, both current and in the future. These include housing, healthcare or even one’s own legacy. With this knowledge, Xuan Yu also sought to learn how to grow his CPF savings, but when he asked his friends, they were also unsure, having seen CPF as merely somewhere their money gets stashed every month Xuan Yu thus took it upon himself to learn more and, as a volunteer, spread that knowledge to others and help them improve their own financial planning.


Believing CPF to be a great system, Xuan Yu sets out to fix misconceptions and help others better understand CPF and its benefits, as a walking info hub with a wealth of knowledge and tips! When asked why it mattered to him, Xuan Yu notes it’s because doing so will ultimately improve the lives of those he has helped, be it in pre-retirement or post-retirement. Having understood the impact of knowing what one can do with their CPF savings, Xuan Yu’s actions serve to pay it forward to those around him.


For Xuan Yu, improving his knowledge and financial planning is simply a part of his journey. Through Xuan Yu’s own learning journey, he hopes to inspire others to reach out to those around them as well. If everyone paid it forward the same way he did, they can create a community where its members lift each other up and help each other achieve the best that they can!

For Yin Wah, volunteering is a form of lifelong learning.

CPF volunteer Yin Wah giving a talk

Once a German language teacher as well as a trainer for aspiring teachers, Yin Wah is now enjoying her retirement. As someone who enjoys helping and teaching others, Yin Wah volunteers not only with CPF, but with RSVP Singapore as well.


While Yin Wah continues to impart knowledge to others on how to better manage their finances and plan for their retirement, she also receives useful tips to help improve her own retirement lifestyle.


When she first stumbled upon the CPFV programme, Yin Wah saw it as an avenue to clarify her doubts about CPF, whilst sharing her own knowledge. Through connecting with other like-minded volunteers, she has given and received help in equal measure, and it is this very notion of helping each other out that makes her feel welcome even with people from different backgrounds and all walks of life! But helping each other isn’t something exclusive to when she is volunteering.


Even in her free time, Yin Wah still chats with her friends about retirement planning and exchanges tips on how to make the most of one’s CPF! A scheme she finds particularly useful to talk about is the Retirement Sum Topping Up (RSTU) scheme, which allows members to top up the CPF of their loved ones. Many of her friends were surprised when she told them about its benefits. It never fails to bring a smile to her face when her friends start to make top-ups of their own after heeding her advice!


Similar to Xuan Yu, Yin Wah approaches volunteering alongside the rest of her community. As they learn and teach one another, they are able to pass on helpful information that they may otherwise have never discovered on their own. Even in retirement, learning does not stop for Yin Wah, as she continues as a volunteer, a student and a teacher—all rolled into one!

For Vivien, volunteering is a legacy.

CPF volunteer Vivien interacting with others

From a young age, Vivien would see his parents volunteering at various places, including church and school. The act of volunteering was a common occurrence around him, and Vivien imbibed that practice like it was natural. After he came to Singapore, Vivien carried on his family legacy , by volunteering at local grassroots organisations. . This didn’t stop even during the pandemic, where he helped drive elderly seniors to get their vaccinations when there was insufficient help to go around.


Vivien would sometimes bring along his daughters for certain volunteering activity such as delivering food to elderly from soup kitchens, turning a simple act of kindness into a family bonding moment!


Vivien’s volunteering also extends to being a CPF volunteer. At his company, there are many senior staff who are unfamiliar with CPF and what happens when they reach 55 years of age, and Vivien often helps them clarify their doubts by answering their questions. In addition, he also points them towards the proper resources, so that they may be able to better make use of these resources and improve their retirement planning.


For Vivien, the reason why he believes in proper utilisation of one’s CPF is important is due to his own life experiences. While he is able to comfortably provide for his family now, life had not always been smooth sailing for Vivien. Growing up, his family was certainly not well-to-do, and as a result it was a common occurrence to not have enough savings for one’s retirement. This coupled with his own struggles in life to get to where he is today have made Vivien understand the importance of planning ahead for retirement. . Because of this, Vivien makes the effort to do proper research on the topic and on how to make the most of one’s CPF and seeks to pass on that knowledge to others as well.


Like Xuan Yu and Yin Wah, Vivien is someone who has received much from those around him. In Vivien’s case, being inspired by his parents has started him down a path where he too gives what he can to those around him. Just like how his parents volunteered with their heart and spirit, so too does Vivien.

Where volunteering is concerned, one cannot simply do it alone. By helping others, we can not only enrich our own lives, but improve others’ lives as well. Volunteering may be done by the individual, but the spirit of volunteering is a communal one—bringing people together in a shared effort to pursue a life purpose. In Xuan Yu, Yin Wah and Vivien, we see volunteers who have taken action to achieve just this, committed to help make financial planning that much easier with CPF. Even if it’s just a small act of sharing useful tips, the outcome can also go a long way in improving another’s life. So why not take a step forward today and join the community, to extend a helping hand like those who came before you?


Because sometimes, all it takes to make someone’s future, is by Paying it Forward, one community at a time.

You can hear more from these volunteers here:

If their words have resonated with you, why not join them at being a CPF volunteer? You can find out more about the programme at the CPF Volunteering page.

Information is accurate as of date of publication.