The $1 SRS Strategy Retirement Age

The $1 SRS Strategy

It is 45 days before the end of the year. Have you accomplished your 2020 goals? Whether it is a financial goal or a fitness goal, the good news is that we have another 52 days left.

In the 6 Levels Wealth Karate, we talked about many strategies while you embark on your wealth management journey. Today, I want to congratulate each and every one of you for being invested in your financial journey. If my blog has helped you, I would appreciate if you could comment how you have benefited in the comments below.

If you have not started, it’s okay. This article will be the easiest way to start to start.

 

Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS)

Previously, I have already talked about SRS. In this semi viral article, I described the 5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older. Personally, I believe that SRS may be suitable for someone who is 40 years old and above.

This is because it is likely that your income is more than $80,000. There will be great substantial tax savings. Plus, we might need liquidity for housing/renovation/marriage/children purposes before that. This will post an liquidity issue. Someone 40 and above might fit into such a category.

In the “best case scenario”, you will be withdrawing $40,000 per year and that income will be tax-free (assuming you are not working).

Please read the above post to learn more about the details.

 

The $1 SRS Strategy

This strategy is the most important strategy of all. This is because we need to first start!

Yes. Most goals failed because they have not even started. Think about it, did you “renew” your 2019 new year’s resolution in 2020 because you didn’t accomplished it in 2019? It need not be a financial goal. What about your fitness goal? What about your learning goal? If this seems like the case, you have the opportunity to change now. By doing so today, you will shave off up to 3 years of your retirement age. If that is not enough, all it takes is $1.

How is that possible? Let’s gather a few facts.

You can make penalty free withdrawals from your SRS on or after the statutory retirement age (currently at 62) that was prevailing at the time of your first SRS contribution. In 2019 National Rally Speech, PM had announced the retirement age to be raised to 63 in 2022 and 65 in 2030.

This will mean that if you still refuse to open your SRS account by 2022, your penalty free withdrawal will increase by 1 year. If you still refuse to open your SRS account by 2030, your penalty free withdrawal increase by 3 years.

The minimum that you can contribute is a grand total of $1. If you are above 18, all you need is to contribute $1 to “lock in” your retirement age to be 62.

The $1 SRS Strategy Retirement Age

The $1 SRS Strategy Retirement Age

 

Your 1 Minute Opening Guide

You no longer need to go to the physical bank branch to open up your SRS account anymore. All it takes is 1 minute.

This is the way I do it. My personal SRS account is with DBS (for convenience sake). You can also open your SRS account with OCBC or UOB. It is only 2 steps, click click and you will have an SRS account. If you are unsure how much to contribute, you can always contribute $1 to your SRS account first to “lock in” your retirement age.

The $1 SRS Strategy DBS

The $1 SRS Strategy DBS

This guide serves to let you under how $1 can lock in your statutory retirement age. In fact, do it now! Log into your DBS/OCBC/UOB internet account and do it now!

 

What can you do with your SRS account?

By popular demand on my Telegram group, I’m currently writing on how to invest using your SRS account now. If you have any questions that you want to be addressed in that article, do drop me a comment and I will include that in the article.

Otherwise, this is one question that is commonly asked: 3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore. This is for people who wants to live in another country during retirement.

 

Final thoughts by Wealthdojo

We wish you the very best in your 2020 goals. Otherwise, we hope that this will be your first financial milestone.

 

Join my Telegram Channel for a tip a day! In Wealthdojo, we dedicate a small amount of time daily for learning new things. Continuous learning is one of the greatest secrets of success.

For those of you who want to turbocharge your journey, contact me at chengkokoh@gmail.com. I would like to hear from you what your experiences are currently and from there, we develop a plan specially catered just for your journey.

We wish you all the best! Stay Safe and Take Care!

Chengkok, Sensei of Wealthdojo.

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Fees

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew

Investment Linked Policies or ILPs have been an ideal target to be bashed by many personal finance groups and investment gurus. In your wealth management journey, perhaps an agent might have ethically (common assumption used by those groups/gurus) told you or sold you an ILP before. Hence, you might start to think whether the ILP does make sense for you.

These Groups/Gurus’ bottom line: Cancel Your ILPs. The fees are expensive. Buy term, invest the rest. You can get better investment returns.

Wealthdojo’s bottom line: ILP is suitable if you are looking for a booster in coverage for a short period of time and plan to accumulate shares/units in a systematic way. You have a more passive approach to investment. An ILP works ideally when you are younger.

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Confused

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Confused

So what now? Disclaimer aside, I hope to share with you 3 brutal truths on ILP and the current narration on ILP in the market.

 

Short Recap

Investment Linked Plans are policies that have life insurance coverage and investment components. Your premiums are used to pay for units in one or more sub-funds of your choice. Some of the units purchased are then sold to pay for insurance and other charges, while the rest remain invested. (Moneysense Definition)

In a layman structure, it looks like this.

Pay Premium > Buy units of the funds at today’s price > Some units are sold to pay for insurance > Wait for next month premium

The units accumulates every month via dollar cost averaging and will build up substantially in a long run. Let’s go on to the brutal truths for ILP.

 

Truth #1: You will pay fees.

This reminds me of a story of a man buying cake for his son’s birthday. After looking at various cakes, his eyes soon fell on a 7-inch strawberry fresh cream cake that stood at the center of the display. This shop is famous for their fresh cream and his son loves fresh cream.

Man: “This cake looks beautiful. How much is this cake?”

Baker: “It costs $97 sir”

Man started to be agitated: “That’s ridiculous. It is just a bunch of strawberries, flour, eggs and sugar. This is a rip-off!”

Baker said calmly: “Sir. You are right. Therefore, we have something just for you”

The baker brought him to the corner and showed him a bunch of strawberries, flour, eggs and sugar and said: “Those will be $13”

Man: “I don’t understand. What do I do with a bunch of strawberries, flour, eggs and sugar?”

Baker: “Well, that’s what we are paid to do.”

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Fees

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Fees: Source

The simple truth is that there will be fees. When you enroll into an ILP, you are paying for insurance, you are paying for wealth management and miscellaneous administrative fees which includes commission for the consultant. You are paying to enroll to a service which consist of insurance protection and investment accumulation.

The narration in the market is that an ILP’s charges are expensive and expensive is a subjective word. Perhaps, it is better to put things side by side with insurance and investment.

Let’s take a look at insurance. I will be comparing our National Insurance Dependent Protection Scheme (DPS), as compared to XXX company’s ILP charges per age band (I personally believe the charges are very similar across companies). We will compare using a basis of $46,000 sum assured for Death and Total Permanent Disability (TPD).

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Insurance Charges

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Insurance Charges

As you can see, the charges for XXX’s company is lower than DPS for all ages except for 55 to 59. This shows that rates are quite competitive. As you become older, you pay more for insurance as the chances of you suffering from Death and TPD increases.

You can also see an element of the popular advice buy term invest the rest here. On an ILP, we contribute a premium monthly. Part of it is used to pay insurance. In the table, we pay for the required insurance charges at that age and the rest goes into investment. If you add on other unit deducting riders like critical illness and early critical illness, you should pay more premium so that you won’t have too little going into investment.

Note: DPS is due for a change and there could be a chance the insurance companies might follow as well.

 

Let’s talk about investment now. As the strategy for an ILP is mostly passive, it might not be a fair comparison to other investment methods that might be more active. I will give an attempt to compare the fees across various personalities.

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Investment Charges

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Investment Charges

The current narrative from investment gurus are that the ILP has high upfront charges of up to 50% of the premium. It is the same for investment courses as well. They do charge a high upfront course fee of around $3000 to $5000. Furthermore, I assume there are no other upsell programs after that.

Another common narrative is that the 1.25% p.a. fund management fee will reduce the investment returns in the long run. This is a true statement as any expenses will reduce your investment returns. Recently, investment courses are also changing to provide continuous support at a fee of $49 to $197 per month. This is akin to having a “fund management fee”.

For those that are self taught investors, he/she might have save on the cost. However, I can only imagine how huge the time commitment he/she dedicated into learning how to invest. One can say to invest in a passive S&P500 index fund with low expense ratio. Then again, how long will you take to reach this decision? How many mistakes might this person make before doing that?

Fees will have to be paid. It is just a matter of to who and how.

Side note: It may not be fair to compare anyway. An investment course does not have insurance coverage. Similarly, an ILP is not an active strategy as compared to some investment courses. The lessons you learn from investment courses are also priceless.

 

Truth #2: If you pay peanuts, you will get peanuts.

Whether it is an ILP, endowment or ETF, if you pay peanuts, you will get peanuts.

This is rather straightforward. I know some people who may have unrealistic expectations on the money they are saving or investing. A $100/month policy or a $100/month ETF is not going to buy you your financial freedom. If you invest $100/month for 30 years with an 10%, you will get $197,392 which is decent but definitely not enough for retirement.

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Invest Small

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Invest Small

This year, I presented a few maturity cheques varying from $15,000 to $60,000 to some of my clients. I excitedly told one of my clients that his maturity cheque is coming in August 2020 and told him to look out for it. He took me out for coffee and asked me how much he was getting. After checking my portal, I told him the amount was $22,000.

He took a sip and exclaimed “Why only $22,000? I has been paying for 25 years.”

“Uncle, you were saving $50/month. In total, you saved $15,000. Personally, I think this is a decent return.”

A short while later. He confessed that he should have saved much more when he was younger.

Imagine there is an investment that can give you 100% returns. If you invest $100 in it, the maximum you will get back is $100. $100 in absolute is not a lot. Therefore, it is very important for us to save up our first pot of gold or simply increase the amount of regular contributions every month.

 

Truth #3: Not everyone you meet will be interested in investing

Sometimes, we forget that we look at others with our tinted lens. We tend to judge a decision and call foul when it is a decision that is not consistent to our own belief. In a recent viral article, a young couple in their 30s paid off their $470K HDB loans in 2 years.

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Opinions

3 Brutal Truths about Investment Linked Policy You Wish You Knew ILP Opinions

This is a feat that is not easy to many. However, this sparked off a huge debate on many personal finance groups saying how financial “Illiterate” they are. They could have made use of the low interest environment to pay off their loans and use the money to invest in other things.

First, I would like to congratulate them. They are debt-free and it is something money *ahem* can buy. If their objective in life is to live a life that is debt free, they are already successful.

Not everyone you meet will be interested in investing or willing to spend loads of time to look into investment. Therefore, the ILP gives a simple disciplined dollar-cost-averaging strategy to accumulate the units of the recommended portfolio funds.

If you are a disciplined investor, feel free to buy term and invest the rest. Please do not expect everyone else to think like you.

 

Final thoughts by Wealthdojo

I’m not advocating ILPs. At the end of the day, the ILP is a wealth accumulation and insurance tool that can fit into a certain profile of individuals. It may be suitable for certain groups of individuals. Personally, I feel that the narration of the ILP has been viewed with tinted lens. Those people are right in their own aspects and life stages.

If you are unsure if the ILP is still suitable for you, please feel free to write in to me. I would love to help you understand it together.

 

Join my Telegram Channel for a tip a day! In Wealthdojo, we dedicate a small amount of time daily for learning new things. Continuous learning is one of the greatest secrets of success.

For those of you who want to turbocharge your journey, contact me at chengkokoh@gmail.com. I would like to hear from you what your experiences are currently and from there, we develop a plan specially catered just for your journey.

We wish you all the best! Stay Safe and Take Care!

Chengkok, Sensei of Wealthdojo.

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore

It is the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) contribution season. If you are 40 and above, do check out my previous post on the 5 things you need to know about SRS. Interestingly, someone emailed me on my 6 Level Wealth Karate System Page to ask about what will happen to their SRS account if they leave Singapore.

In this article, we will talk about 3 potential scenarios (i) if you are a foreigner and continue to stay in Singapore (you should!) (ii) if you are a foreigner but decide to leave Singapore (iii) if you are local and intend to retire in overseas (Thailand, Phuket, you name it).

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore: Don’t leave =(

I’m a Singaporean and proud to be one. Singapore is a wonderful country. You should not leave =). Unfortunately, I do meet people who love Singapore but have no choice but to leave because they were asked to relocate to another country. Anyway, let’s set the context for the SRS. Most people will probably be concerned if it is worth it to contribute to their SRS when long term stay in Singapore is not confirm. We will touching on that.

I would also need to point out the withdrawal tax concession and the 5% early withdrawal penalty.

 

SRS Early Withdrawal Penalty (Local and Foreigner)

Withdrawal after retirement age (current age 62): You can start making penalty-free withdrawal from your SRS account. You will only be taxed 50% of the amount you withdraw for the calendar year.

Withdrawal before retirement age (current age 62): Although you can make withdrawal from your SRS account at any time that you want, you will be subjected to a penalty of 5% of the amount withdrawn. In addition, the full amount withdrawn will also be subject to income tax.

There are other special circumstances which we will not be going into detail (Death/Medical Grounds/Bankrupt)

 

SRS Additional Withdrawal Criteria (Foreigner)

As a foreigner, you can withdraw your SRS monies without the 5% penalty if you meet the following criteria:

(i) a foreigner for a continuous period of at least 10 years preceding the date of withdrawal.
(ii) one lump sum after maintaining your SRS account for at least 10 years from the date of your first contribution.

For such withdrawal, you will be taxed 50% of the withdrawal amount.

After understanding the above criteria, let’s consider a the few scenario that might happen to you.

 

Case #1: Foreigner and continue to stay in Singapore

James is a foreigner who is staying in Singapore for many years. When I first met James, he told me that he really love Singapore. He likes the sunny weather, he likes the hawker food (his favourite is chicken rice) and also a father of 2 beautiful young children.

He has an intention to stay in Singapore to raise his family.

James contributes to his SRS account every year. This is because as a foreigner, he does not have CPF contribution. By contributing to the SRS, he is able to reduce his taxable income, save on taxes and also save for retirement.

James is 45 this year and he is plan to contribute the full $35,700 into his SRS every year. He makes around $160,000 a year. Assuming no other personal tax deduction.

Without SRS: James pays $13,950 of taxes that year.

With SRS: James pays $8,595 of taxes that year. (His chargeable income is $160,000 – $35,700)

In total, he saves $5,355 worth of taxes that year. He also saves $35,7000 in his SRS which he can use to invest for his retirement.

In 10 years time, he save a total of $53,550 worth of taxes. At the same time, he would have accumulated nearly $481,462 if he decides to invest his monies in his SRS assuming it grows at 4%. He can decide if he wants to withdraw the lump sum.

If he does so, he have to pay 50% taxes on withdrawal amount. Let’s assume he does not have any income that year. He will be taxed on $241,000 (50% of $481,462). He pays a tax of $28,945. He saves about $24,605 ($53,550-$28,945) if he contributes to SRS. In this case, he benefits from this.

However, James may not want to do this at all. At age 55, he is still young and most likely have a good income, saving or investment to depend on if he does proper wealth management. James is a happy man.

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore happy family

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore happy family

 

Case #2: Foreigner and decides to leave Singapore

In an unfortunate case where you have to leave Singapore, there are some strategies that you might want to consider for the SRS. I met Lucy a few years back. Lucy has been in Singapore for 3 years now but have not contributed to her SRS. She’s working in an MNC in Singapore and earns around $160,000. She fears that the economic downturn will affect her job opportunities in Singapore and asked to be returned to her country. This has been escalated due to COVID-19. Similarly, if she contributes $35,700 to her SRS, these are her numbers.

Without SRS: Lucy pays $13,950 of taxes that year.

With SRS: Lucy pays $8,595 of taxes that year. (Her chargeable income is $160,000 – $35,700)

In total, she saves $5,355 worth of taxes that year. She also saves $35,7000 in her SRS which she can use to invest for her retirement.

What if Lucy were to leave Singapore? Her fears are valid. It would mean that $35,700 would be stuck in her SRS. What if she leaves Singapore AND really needs the money? In this unfortunate situation, she will have to pay a 5% penalty and also be taxed on 100% of the withdrawal amount. This can be avoided if Lucy plans using the 6 Level Wealth Karate System.

Ideally, she can wait for 10 years from her first contribution to avoid the penalty and be taxed on 50% of the lump sum.

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore Sad Woman

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore: I don’t want to go

 

Case #3: Local but wants to retire overseas

This has been a dream of many Singaporeans. Andrew has been working in Singapore all his life and contributes to his SRS account regularly. He has been telling his colleagues about his retirement which is happening in a few years time. He dreams that he will be able to retire in Thailand. He enjoys Thai food a lot and can’t wake to wake up on the beach of Phuket every day for the rest of his life.

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore Phuket

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore Phuket

We are in the midst of checking if SRS will be taxed differently due to the change of tax residency. We will update this article accordingly.

Update: SRS will be taxed according to tax residency and it depends on the following factors.

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore Tax Resident

3 things you need to know about SRS if you plan to leave Singapore Tax Resident

Final Thoughts

Please check in with your tax advisors for the above strategies. We also note that the rulings change from time to time so we want to be mindful about that.

Whether you are a local or a foreigner, it make sense to contribute to SRS (as discussed in the previous article). I will be talking about what to invest in using your SRS in the next article. Stay tune.

 

Join my Telegram Channel for a tip a day! In Wealthdojo, we dedicate a small amount of time daily for learning new things. Continuous learning is one of the greatest secrets of success.

For those of you who want to turbocharge your journey, contact me at chengkokoh@gmail.com. I would like to hear from you what your experiences are currently and from there, we develop a plan specially catered just for your journey.

We wish you all the best! Stay Safe and Take Care!

Chengkok, Sensei of Wealthdojo.

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older

During the end of the year, the topic of Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) and Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions will become frequently searched topics for wealth management. This is because for every additional dollar contributed, we might pay lesser in taxes. If you are 40 and older, this article is for you. We are going to talk about taxes, retirement and worse case situations.

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older

 

#1 Quick Summary of SRS

SRS is a voluntary program started in 2001 to help individual (local and foreigners) to save more money for retirement. You are eligible for tax reliefs by contribution to SRS subjected to the cap of the personal income tax relief (currently $80,000). There is also a maximum that you can contribute to SRS (currently $15,300 for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents; and $35,700 for foreigners).

For example, I earn $100,000. I contribute $15,000 into my SRS. My taxable income will now be $85,000 (assuming I have not hit the cap of the personal income tax relief).

Your returns in the SRS account will be tax-free and 50% of the withdrawals from SRS are taxable at retirement.

Your contributions must be made before the 31 Dec of the year to quality (hence, the interest at the end of the year).

You can make withdrawals on or after the statutory retirement age (currently at 62) for you to enjoy penalty free withdrawals. Withdrawals are made in a 10 years window.

For investments in life annuities, the 10-year withdrawal period does not apply. So long as you continue to receive your annuity streams in perpetuity, 50% of the annual stream will be subject to tax.

A 5% penalty will be imposed for early withdrawals.

For more information about withdrawals, head over to IRAS withdrawals to understand more.

 

#2 The Best Case Scenario

The best case scenario is to have $400,000 in your SRS account at the age of 62 and you are not working by then. We assume that we will be drawing out $40,000 evenly over the next 10 years. Since 50% of the amount withdrawn will be taxable, the taxable income is $20,000 (assuming no other income). At $20,000, there is no income tax payable.

This rigid best case scenario creates a conundrum because it creates a happy problem that you have ALOT MORE than $400,000 due to excellent investment returns AND you still have a well paying job by then.

 

#3 The “Worse Case” Scenario

Suppose you are 30 year old today and contribute the maximum of $15,300 into the SRS account every year until age of 62. If your ROI is 20%, you would have $31 million in your SRS account. You would have to withdraw around $3 million yearly and be subjected to the highest income bracket.

If we manage our expectations and have a reasonable ROI of 5%, you would have $1.2 million in your SRS account. In this case, you would have to withdraw roughly $120,000 yearly. If you are still working and at the peak of your career getting a good income, you will be possibly subjected to a highest income bracket.

The “worse case” is to have really good investment skills and still be working by then. However, I feel this as a “happy” problem to have.

 

#4 What if I’m just a normal human being?

$1.2 million sounds big and you might not even be sure you will still have a job then at 62. Most of my client ask me what if they are a normal human being, how does SRS still make sense to a layman?

Firstly, we have to start with the question of contribution. How much should you make a year before SRS contributions make sense?

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older income tax contribution

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older: income tax contribution

SRS is a tax planning tool. Hence, it is important to know at which chargeable income bracket (after CPF contribution, tax relief) will it make sense for us to contribute to SRS.

Personally, SRS contribution will start to make sense after the $80,000 chargeable income bracket. Any other income after the $80,000 is subjected to a tax rate of 11.5%. Hence, I find it reasonable to contribute to SRS unless I can find an investment instrument that can give me 11.5% easily. Of course, there are other reasons as well.

#4.1 Tax Savings

To give an example, Amy earns $120,000 annually (after all personal tax relief).

Without SRS, she pays $7950 on taxes.

With SRS, her chargeable income becomes $104,700. She now pays $6190 on taxes.

She saves $1760. (which is a probably an extra month of family expenses)

However, in a situation where by you need liquidity for big purchases such as down-payment for a property, you might want to skip this year’s contribution. The balance of liquidity and tax saving should be taken into consideration.

#4.2 Emergency Funds

If you already have money in your SRS and have a URGENT need for cash, you can still withdrawal from SRS with a 5% penalty instead of having it locked up like the CPF. Of course, we ideally do not want to withdraw from our SRS. However, in an event of a unforeseen circumstances, the funds are still available.

 

#5 Then why after age 40?

I’m assuming that after age 40, it is likely that our income is more than $80,000. Plus, we might need liquidity for housing/renovation/marriage/children purposes before that. There is also an (irrational) fear is that if we contribute too early, we might compound it too much by then.

Hence, 40 years is ideal because there will be possible substantial tax saving, not having a liquidity issue and also closer to retirement age (lesser compounding period).

A potential solution to the “worse case” scenario is to get an annuity (but you will still be effectively taxed on half the annuity’s payouts every year).

 

#6onus How should you open a SRS account?

To open a SRS account, simply go to the 3 SRS operators (DBS/POSB, UOB & OCBC) website and you can do it online. You can register an account with any of them. There is little difference which bank you choose because you can invest in SRS approved assets from any institutions.

OCBC SRS Account

UOB SRS Account

DBS SRS Account

I suggest that you wait until the end of the year before applying. Typically, there are promotions to open a SRS account at the end of the year. On a side note, I’m don’t think there will be a promotion this year (2020) due to the COVID-19 situation. The banks have also been reducing their benefits this year.

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older OCBC Promotion

5 things you need to know about SRS when you are 40 and older OCBC Promotion 2017

 

Final Thoughts

I believe that SRS is a great tax saving tool for you if you are 40 and above. Your contribution might save your family one month worth of household expenses. When we are younger, it is important to balance tax-saving and liquidity. Upon retirement, SRS can  provide a source of income for us in addition to possibly rental, dividends etc.

 

 

Join my Telegram Channel for a tip a day! In Wealthdojo, we dedicate a small amount of time daily for learning new things. Continuous learning is one of the greatest secrets of success.

For those of you who want to turbocharge your journey, contact me at chengkokoh@gmail.com. I would like to hear from you what your experiences are currently and from there, we develop a plan specially catered just for your journey.

We wish you all the best! Stay Safe and Take Care!

Chengkok, Sensei of Wealthdojo.

The hidden cost of retirement

The Hidden Cost Of Retirement: Healthcare

Many of us look forward to retirement. It is the time when we can finally enjoy our lives and the fruits of our labor. We envision that we can use the hard-earned money that we have save and invest in our wealth management journey to spend on the finer things in life.

The hidden cost of retirement

The hidden cost of retirement: I wonder why are retirement photos all at the beach.

However, as we grow older, there is this cost that keeps creeping up. If uncareful, may derail our retirement.

(This is a joint-post together with Life Finance. Do check them out. I think the quality of their article are great. They are certainly one of the better writers out there and I’m happy that there is someone like them writing on these important topics)

 

Healthcare costs in retirement

Healthcare costs will form a significant part of retirement spending. In Life Finance previous article, he documented that healthcare costs will shoot up from a bit less than 7% of household spending for a typical household before retirement to more than 12% after retirement. This is on top of health insurance spending. This 12% of overall spending is made up of the deductibles, co-payments and other outpatient expenses tat actually comes out of the retirees’ pockets (or Medisave account).

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare cost

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare cost

The higher percentage does not mean that a retired household spends less on everything else. In fact, once household size and inflation are accounted for, retired households actually spend the same amount after retirement as they do before. Hence planning for higher healthcare costs is crucial as part of retirement planning.

 

Why does healthcare costs go up in retirement?

It is no secret that while inflation has moderated for most goods and services in the past few years with slowing economic growth, healthcare inflation has continued unabated. But the rate at it is going up is not well known. Let’s look at some data.

From the data.gov website, we can see that healthcare inflation has outpaced general inflation, in the last few years.

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare inflation

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare: Inflation

But this chart gives a relatively benign view of healthcare cost inflation, showing that it is still manageable. This is however, not true at the patient level, especially for retirees. As life expectancy increases, Singaporeans are also seeing an increase in the number of years spent in ill health to more than 10 years out of a lifespan of 84 years. This means that the corresponding bills for healthcare will increase, as hospital stays becomes longer, and procedures become more complex.

To get a better sense of the increase in healthcare costs at the patient level, we can look at the Ministry of Health’s Fee Benchmarks Committee Report from 2018. While Class A public hospital bills grew by 4.9% per year between 2007 and 2017, private hospital bills grew by 9% a year in that same period!

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare bills

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare bills

Beyond that, healthcare costs have kept increasing. Mercer in 2019 indicated that in 2018, Singapore healthcare cost inflation was 10% and the same is projected for 2019 and 2020

In addition to hospital bills and healthcare costs going up, retirees are faced with the fact that the frequency of their hospital stays will also increase. The likelihood of hospitalization in any year will go up from between 20% – 27% for retirees in their late 60’s and early 70’s, to a staggering 70% – 80% when they reach their mid 80’s, or a three-fold increase at a minimum.

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare hospitalisation episodes

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare hospitalisation episodes

A three-fold increase over 20 years corresponds to a growth rate of hospitalization of 7% per year.

Hence, to get the true rate of healthcare cost increase in the retirement years, we need to consider both:
a) The higher frequency of hospitalization and healthcare needs
b) The growing rate of healthcare inflation

Putting both these figures together:

• Retiree patients in Class A wards in public hospitals will be faced with a 12% increase in healthcare costs per year (4.9% and 7%)
• Retiree patients using Private hospitals will be faced with a 18% rise in healthcare costs on a year-on-year basis

While it is true that with healthcare insurance, such as Medishield Life or an Integrated Shield plan, much of these rising costs can be transferred to the insurer, the retiree patient is still faced with the prospect of rising co-payments and other out of pocket costs. Furthermore, rising healthcare costs will ultimately be reflected in higher insurance premiums as well, which is what we discuss next.

 

Rising healthcare insurance premiums

As healthcare cost increase as explained above, premiums from medical insurance will go up due to the risk pooling nature of insurance policies. From 2015 to 2020, Singapore’s medical insurance premium began its steep incline. The Ministry of Health has stepped in on many initiatives such as co-payment, the use of preferred doctors and also pre-authorisation to help cope the medical inflation rates in Singapore.

The Medishield Life Committee gave their recommendation in 2014 with the proposal of the upgrade from Medishield to Medishield Life. In a nutshell, it means that the scope of coverage will increase and at the same time, the premiums will increase. There were a series of government subsidies over the last 5 years to help Singaporeans cope with the rising cost of medical insurance.

As the Integrated Shield (IP) plan is made up of Medishield (Now Life) and Additional Insurance Coverage from Insurance company, this directly increase the overall premiums that consumers have to pay.

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare medishield life

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare Medishield life

To the same time, insurance companies were making underwriting loses as net claims faced by the insurers outpaced premiums earned, particularly for plans covering private hospitals. Net claims are made up of the absolute cost of healthcare and the frequency of healthcare. The absolute cost of healthcare has gone up over the years as written above. At the same time, with medical advancement, it is more common for people now to seek medical treatment as compared to the past. These has made premiums unsustainable in the long run.

Between the years 2016 and 2019, the premiums of riders and the private insurance component of IP increase on average of 24% and 10% respectively each year. These trends are largely reflective of increases in private hospital insurance claims.

The raise in questionable claims also push up the claims experience of the insurance companies. (Quoted from source almost fully to retain the meaning of the article)

In one example, A 37-year-old woman stayed seven days in hospital for abdominal hernia repair. Of the $46,000 bill, the surgeon’s share was $31,900, or five times the norm. It transpired that while in hospital, she also had her breast augmented, and a tummy tuck with the fat transferred to her buttocks, but since these are not covered by insurance, none of this was stated in the bill.

A second example is for a woman was warded for 42 days for cervical sprain and strain (or pain in the neck) but received treatment only on seven days. She was given physiotherapy and painkillers for the other 35 days, something that could have been done as outpatient treatment. The bill was $84,000.

The combination of Medishield Life premiums increase, healthcare cost inflation, frequency of healthcare and the raise of questionable claims made the previous premiums charged unsustainable. This led to an inevitable increase in medical insurance inflation and also tightening of the claim procedures in the last 5 years.

 

Cost of Hidden Cost of Retirement

Medical insurance is one cost that people don’t usually take into account during retirement. We generally assume we will be well (why will we not) and plan for our living expenses with occasional holiday or two. However, we have to bring this to you to share with you the cost of medical insurance at your age of retirement.

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare great eastern shield

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare great eastern shield

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare great eastern totalcare

The hidden cost of retirement healthcare great eastern totalcare

Taking Great Eastern medical policy as an example (Disclaimer: We are not advocating any insurance policies from any company. We are using Great Eastern as an example for premium calculation. In my experience, the premiums for the other companies should be around the same).

At age of 65, we will need to annual cash premium of $2,226 ($967+$1259) for a private hospital coverage (with 5% co-payment). This comes out to be around $185/month.

In 5 years time, at the age of 70, we will need to pay an annual cash premium of $3,234 ($1695+$1539) which comes out to be around $269/month.

If this don’t scare you, at age of 75, we will need to pay an annual cash premium of $4,685 ($2650+$2035) which comes out to be around $390/month.

In Singapore, our life expantacy is around 85, I cannot imagine how one can afford those premiums when that time happens. All this is assuming that there is no future medical inflation which does not inflate the current premiums now.

PS: If you thinking that you can self-insure and not have any insurance, I hope that I have to burst your bubble.

 

Final Thoughts

The hard truth is that healthcare cost is going to continue to increase due to the factors explained above. The first thing I get my client to plan for is their paycheck. Remember that during retirement, there is a paycheck and a playcheck. The paycheck consist of items such as healthcare cost, phone bills, utilities, basic food and beverages and so on. Usually, we allocate money from “safer” asset class  to take care of those cost because it will have to be paid at whichever market conditions.

The playcheck is the one we are more familiar with. It consist of items such as exotic holidays, a roadtrip, etc.

Whichever the paycheck or playcheck, it is part of our retirement journey.

Thank you Life Finance for your contributions. If you like this article, do comment before and leave a message for me or Life Finance.

 

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