One of the major threats to a retirement fund is inflation. With rare exceptions, the cost of living will always increase — you could buy a satay stick for one cent in the 1960s and those of us who grew up in the 1980s will remember how a big a sum $500 used to be. As such, a lot of people who make sweeping statements — such as “I’ll only need $1,000 a month to survive” — may be far off the mark.
Here’s a look at how much your lifestyle might cost in 2047.
In the following example, we will work out the cost of items today and how they would change by 2047. This follows an assumption that the overall rate of inflation is 3%. This is more or less in line with Singapore’s core inflation* over the past decade and most developed countries have a comparable rate of inflation. (*Core inflation excludes the rising cost of private transport and private housing.)
Here’s the formula: Principal x (1 + inflation rate)^number of years
So let’s assume you’re 35 years old today. By 2047, you will be 65 years old, retired, and getting around $1,300 a month from CPF payouts — which is what many Singaporeans will get from CPF LIFE if they have the full retirement sum of $166,000.
Is that enough come 2047?
Let’s look at your basic essentials first:
One month of groceries
Current cost: $150 and we’ll assume that’s enough to give a single person three meals a day for the entire month.
Projected cost in 2047: $364
Current cost: $80 per month for a single person in a three-room flat
Projected cost in 2047: $194
Public transport costs
Current cost: Most people spend around $14 a week on public transport. But we will factor in senior citizen concessions and the fact that you may not travel as much. Let’s halve it to $7 a week which makes it $28 a month
Projected cost in 2047: $68 per month
Mobile phone plan
Current cost: $60 per month
Yes, we will assume that having a mobile plan with data is an essential since this generation can’t live without their phones anyway.
Projected cost in 2047: $146
Total for essential expenditures in 2047: $772
Seems like a lot? Let’s look at some more expenses.
Typical leisure expenses
We’re going to assume you don’t go on big adventures abroad and mostly stay within the neighbourhood.
Let’s say you…
Catch a movie once a month
Current cost: $12 for a ticket. We assume cinemas still exist in 2047 even with Netflix on the rise.
Projected cost in 2047: $29
Lim kopi session with friends once a week
Current cost: $5 for two cups of coffee and maybe one plate of food. So about $20 a month
Projected cost in 2047: $49
Dining out once a month
Current cost: $50 for a three-course meal at a decent restaurant.
Projected cost in 2047: $121
Current cost: Let’s assume you buy a book or a new t-shirt on occasion. About $40 a month as a conservative estimate.
Projected cost in 2047: $97
Total for leisure expenses in 2047: $296
Assuming that you only receive $1,300 from your CPF LIFE, that leaves you with around $232 after accounting for essentials and everyday leisure expenses. With that amount left, let’s see what you can afford to enjoy and have fun with during your golden years.
Travel and entertainment
Return ticket to Thailand with hotel accommodation for one week
Current cost: A budget ticket might set you back about $250 and a decent hotel would be around $100 a night. Add around $50 a day for spending, so a simple week-long vacation in Thailand would be $700.
Projected cost in 2047: $1,700
Wow! That’s more than your entire month’s payout. Okay scrap that idea. We’ll need to save up for months before we can have some authentic pad thai. Let’s look at something else…
A three-day staycation at a boutique hotel in Singapore
Current cost: A single night at a chic boutique hotel costs around $250 a night. So a three-day, two-night staycation would set you back $500. Slight cheaper than a week in Thailand — and you get still to lim kopi with your friends in the morning.
Projected cost in 2047: $1,214
Crap. That’s still way over budget. Need to save up some more before we can even do a staycation. How about…
A day with the family at Universal Studios Sentosa
Current cost: $38 for a senior citizen (and assuming rest of the family pay for themselves)
Let’s assume you also buy a nice meal while you’re there which runs to about $20. You’ll probably also buy a souvenir or something for your grandchild, so let’s say that costs $40. Altogether you’ll spend about $98 for a day in Sentosa.
Projected cost in 2047: $234.
Yes! We just have enough to pay for ourselves to spend a day at Universal Studios with the family. (We actually only have $232 left over after all our monthly expenses but we can probably find two dollars from the drawer somewhere!)
As you can see, $1,300 from CPF alone buys you a fairly spartan lifestyle in 2047. A meal at restaurant once a month, a movie, and coffee shop sessions with your friends – and you have barely enough left over for a day at Sentosa.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a simple lifestyle, the question is: Is this enough to retire on? We haven’t even factored in medical expenses and emergencies.
So even a small increase in your post-retirement income of a few hundred dollars can be life-changing. If you build a balanced portfolio of value-growth and dividend-paying stocks today, you could easily have another $300-500 a month (or more) to complement your CPF payouts.
You could afford more holidays and continue to enjoy the hobbies you have right now. You could treat your grandchild or help your children in a bad patch without needing to count pennies.
Do consider if that’s worth investing a little more today.
(Editor’s note: This example assumes the CPF Full Retirement Sum and monthly payouts remain at $1,380 and are not revised upwards. If the retirement sum is revised upwards, the payouts will likewise increase.)