Can I afford to retire in Singapore?
That question enticed nearly 100 people to turn up at the library@ orchard to listen to The Straits Times Invest editor and senior correspondent Lorna Tan give her take on the hot topic. The short answer: Yes, but you need to plan ahead.
The talk was the first of 12 lined up for the askST initiative - a collaboration between The Straits Times (ST) and the National Library Board - where readers can engage with ST correspondents on topics from finance to health to education. Kicking off the session on Friday, Ms Tan, 51, an award-winning journalist who helms the Invest section of The Sunday Times and is the author of two personal finance books, said the central concern was to avoid "depleting our nest eggs".
She said the prudent approach is to have a combination of guaranteed income - such as Central Provident Fund (CPF) Life payouts, life savings, and Singapore Savings Bonds - and non-guaranteed ones from higher-yielding investments.
"These sources can then be used to fund our needs and wants," she said. She urged those present to separate their wants from their needs. Needs should be funded by secure income sources, while wants can be supported by relatively riskier ones such as stock dividends. "You don't want to be buying vegetables in the market and thinking about stock prices," she joked.
After the talk, participants took the chance to ask her about government policies such as MediShield Life and CPF life.
Manager Simon Chia, 60, was initially sceptical of how "a journalist would fare in public speaking".
However, he said later: " I am impressed. She talked about it in a very accessible way, was systematic and very well prepared."
Many who signed up said they were avid readers of Ms Tan's Sunday Times columns, and trusted her expertise. Friday's topic was an especially relevant one, given the uncertain economic climate even as Singaporeans worry about living longer amid higher costs of living.
Said executive Francis Lim, 58: "It's definitely a topic close to my heart for someone my age who's preparing for the next stage of life."
NLB chief executive officer Elaine Ng hoped the series will "encourage everyone to Read More, Read Widely and Read Together".
She said: "We are very excited to be working with The Straits Times and their experienced journalists for this series of askST@NLB talks."
The next free talk will be at 7pm on June 24 at library@orchard. Deputy business editor Aaron Low will address personal finance from a different angle: How do I save enough for my children's future?
Readers can e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them online at www.straitstimes.com/ askst ahead of the talks.