Scanning the Invest section of the Sunday Times for useful articles has become a habit. Two weeks ago, I ran a series of blogs based on three articles that caught my eyes (1) FIRE seems farther away from me now (2) Giving MoneyOwl a Try and (3) High Gearing; I Don’t Dare.
Last Sunday (7/5), it ran a full page article on Singapore Saving Bond (SSB). It was a good and comprehensive article. If you are new to SSB, you will find it very useful. But there are already enough blogs on SSB and hence, I don’t feel the need to add another.
In today’s Sunday Times, 2 articles attracted me. One is “What are S’poreans insecure about?” by Mr Han Fook Kwang.
He pointed out that retirement insecurity is the biggest concern for Singaporeans. I agree with him wholeheartedly. Especially vulnerable are our older Singaporeans who had toiled so hard for this country in the past but in the end they face the constant challenge of living from hand to mouth as they were unable to plan for their retirement earlier and can only rely on their CPF savings now which is often not much to start with.
It is common sight across Singapore to see our seniors (some even in their 70s) working long hours clearing plates at the food centre, cleaning our estate etc.
I always got this comment/questions from overseas friends (Europeans, Americans, Chinese, Japanese alike) who were here on a visit or business, “Why do Singapore make them work at this age? Isn’t there some support for them. They should be enjoying their golden years.”
Inside me, I felt bad that they had to work tirelessly while I ate my Chay Kway Teow and sipped my sugar cane juice or bubble tea.
But our country doesn’t practice “welfare state”, even for our seniors are old and “supposedly should have retired”. They still have to work to put food on their tables. There is no financial support to them unless they are very very poor and even then, the support is minimal and just enough to get. Enjoy life … forget it.
So, you may ask, where did all their hard earned money go to? It all went to their property and maybe it was because they are not financial literate and did not plan for their retirement.
They get a roof over their head but they need to work hard to get food. Can they sell the property? Yes, but what’s the alternative, buy another equally expensive house. Downgrade to a smaller unit … possible but it is not cheap too. On a psf level, I think the smaller units are even more expensive than the bigger one. They would have to leave the familiar neighbourhood that they have been living in for decades.
Sell and then Rent? maybe. But imagine you worked so hard for a big part of your life and in the end, you have to sell your property and rent a room from someone to live out the rest of your life.
Rent out a bedroom? But at their age, I am sure they will feel uneasy with a stranger(s) in their house and they will feel vulnerable as people now have the keys to their house. Tough choices … so many kept their existing expensive houses and continue to work ….
Where are their kids who may be able to support them ? You may ask. Do you really expect that as a default in today’s society? I don’t anymore.
Some of them are probably struggling with daily expenses on their own – house mortgages to pay, children’s before school, after school care, school bus, enrichment course, school led overseas activities and tuition and family daily expenses – a car maybe, an overseas holiday which the children will compare with friends, laptop so that the children can do elearning assignment from school at home, utilities, mobile phone, broadband bills – you name it. It is easily a thousand or two per kid if the parents want their children to get a headstart and maintain self esteem when kids start to compare what they have and don’t have.
For some others, I know they go overseas to work to seek high flying jobs and jet set everywhere to be in the C-Suites executive. Often they stay out for a long time, you will be lucky if they still remember their older folks at home when they are already occupied with the ambitions to climb higher and higher.
So who’s taking care of our seniors then? Themselves loh …
I don’t foresee things will change in the coming years or at least at the time when I retire. My spouse and I agree that we would have to build our own retirement nest and fund our own living expenses and not rely on others and the kids.
And we have to start saving and deliberately investing now. Delayed Gratification? Not really, just trying to have a decent basic life after retirement and not to worry to have to live from hand to mouth.
This is too pessimistic or too bleak a future you may say, but I don’t think it is totally out of the world. I can foresee it happening … it is already happening now if I look around some of my friends, relatives as neighbours.
How many of us really believe our kids will take care of us when we can no longer earn an active income?
Well, all these above are driving me to build as big a passive income portfolio as I can.
Today, rapid technology disruption, cut throat competition in the market and also in the office and the relentless drive for continuous bottomline and to “win”, also means security of jobs is not a given. I can be asked to leave the next day and not because I am incompetent or have a lousy attitude to work.
Therefore, the earlier we can progress ourselves to gain financial independence and freedom, the greater peace of mind we will have to live out our life and live it to the fullest.
This doesn’t come free … it means we have to sacrifice some quality of our life now to produce this.
I wish everyone good luck and all the best on this journey.
It would not be a smooth one unless of course you struck ToTo first prize and emerge as the only winner. Even then, we must know how to invest the winning prudently to give us a sustainable and secured passive income. So winning the grand lottery also cannot enjoy big time … what’s an irony, right? 😂