Your Central Provident Fund is a suitable and safe product for secure retirement: Whatever you put into it will come out as your life payouts.
This was repeatedly emphasised by Straits Times invest editor and senior correspondent Lorna Tan to a packed audience of about 340 people yesterday, many of whom were taking down notes fervently as she spoke.
Ms Tan was speaking at the ninth edition of a series of askST@NLB talks, entitled Retire Smart via CPF, at the Central Public Library.
The talks, held monthly since last July, are organised by The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB). Each session comprises a talk, often by a Straits Times editor or correspondent, followed by a question-and-answer segment.
Ms Tan discussed the different CPF Life plans, breaking down the pros and cons of each and the factors one must consider in deciding which to choose.
"For those who are worried about inflation and higher cost of living, the Escalating Plan is something you can consider that might counter that," said Ms Tan.
She highlighted that, instead of level payouts, retirees who choose this plan, introduced at the start of this year, can expect monthly payouts that increase over time. This, however, might come at the expense of lower initial payouts.
Those who are looking to save more for their loved ones can opt for the Basic Plan. This plan offers lower payouts in order to save a larger bequest for nominees, while those needing higher level monthly payouts for themselves can settle for the Standard Plan.
Ms Tan then went on to explore ways of growing one's CPF, a key topic of interest for the night not only for seniors, but also for younger adults. For instance, she suggested periodically transferring some money into one's Special Account (SA), allowing that sum to capitalise on the SA's relatively higher interest rate.
"Even when you're young, you have to think of how you can save long term. Making that a habit really saved me," shared Ms Tan.
One of the audience members, Mr Josh Quek, 64, said after the event: "The talk was useful to me because some of the things, like the Escalating Plan, are very new to me."
He added: "It's also great to have a talk that I can come and listen to. It's more practical and informative than simply reading from a website or book."
Ms Tan held a signing session for her book, Retire Smart: Financial Planning Made Easy, after the talk.
The next askST@NLB talk will be on April 27, when ST Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun will speak about how social media has changed the way chefs create dishes.
Those interested may sign up for it at http://str.sg/askHsueh