How to Survive The Shock of Retirement in Singapore

You must be wondering, isn’t retirement in Singapore or elsewhere after a lifetime of work the holy grail of working?

The enlightenment stage in the end of our career where we have earned and invested enough to attain financial independence, and can finally relax and travel the world?

Taiwan holiday
Photo: Jules of Singapore

Retirement in Singapore isn’t so simple.

As one of the most expensive countries in the world, just imagine how much you need to survive 20 years of retirement, and medical expenses.

Know How Much Retirement in Singapore Will Cost You

Assuming:

1. Without inflation, if we work for 40 years and retire for 20 years, every $1 saved while working today will give us $2 to spend later in retirement.

2. But if you have to pay off student loans, car loans, renovation loans, house loans, perhaps you’ll only be loan free when you’re 40. Then every $1 saved working gives you $1 in retirement.

3. By the way, taking into account inflation, maybe your $1 today could be worth less than 50c in retirement.

4. Are you planning to pay for your kids’ degrees, wedding or home? If not, skip this section.

Life after retirement isn’t just about being financially independent.

It’s also about what the what’s-next.

Know What You Want To Do Next After Retirement

What’s next for you after retirement?

Imagine, you’ve worked so hard your whole life, to gain respect and reputation.

Suddenly on the first day of retirement, you’re a forgotten relic, only spoken to by your family (if you’re left with any after being a workaholic) and the condo security officer.

Grocery shopping NTUC FairPrice
Photo: Jules Of Singapore

You will spend more time grocery shopping and looking for the meaning of life in mundane tasks of choosing fruits and vegetables.

Will you spend your time sitting in front of the TV feeling grumpy because no one seems to care about you, even abandoned by your juniors who previously fawned over you but must have been secretly coveting your position?

Are you being a pain-in-the-ass, nagging your family incessantly because you just want someone to notice you exist?

The emotional journey of a retiree is full of downs, and downs… Maybe there will be an up if you can find something to motivate you and give your life meaning.

Unlike stay-at-home mums who are too busy worrying about their children, retirees have too much time to do nothing.

You can only do nothing for so long.

Know What You Can Do With Your Experience, Skills and Contacts

I once had the privilege of sitting next to two mature men during an event lunch one day. One had retired for 5 years already, and the other was his junior who was still working.

The retired man had decided that he would put the skills he cultivated in his long tenure in a corp comms role to lobby his media contacts to support various charitable causes.

He found a calling that kept his passion alive, and yet doing good deeds to benefit the younger generations.

He was definitely financially independent, which gave him a chance to do volunteer work without worrying about his bills.

But what if you aren’t ready for retirement yet because you need or want to work?

Know Where You Can Continue Working

What if you decide you want to work beyond retirement in Singapore?

Your role before retirement may be the best in terms of position and salary you will ever get.

Raffles place chevron house
Photo: Jules Of Singapore

Don’t expect to be hired at a higher pay as a consultant, even younglings can be consultants nowadays.

There’s a thing called re-employment, which is some legislation in Singapore reminding employers to offer you a job after retirement at 62 years old.

It used to only be valid till you turn 65.

Now it’s valid till you turn 67.

Re-employment Singapore

Source: MOM

Big deal ah? 2 years more only.

But it’s 2 more years of financial stability for you, even if your pay is cut and your role slightly different.

Re-employment doesn’t give you the chance to retire with a shocking bang.

Re-employment is more like giving you the space to take a step back in the shadows, but close enough to hover around in the background making sure the younglings don’t destroy the business or establishment with their crazy whims.

Know Your Rights As A Re-employed Worker in Singapore

Don’t be pushed into a corner by your employer when he insists you take a pay cut on unfavourable terms, such as giving you more work.

If he doesn’t offer you a suitable job within his company or in another company, make sure you find out how to receive your Employment Assistance Payment.

I found an old (2010) guidebook to Re-employment that can still be applied in some ways today. (There’s an updated version here.)

Re-employment guide

Source

Companies cannot pretend not to know what re-employment is.

According to the same guidebook, the foreword by Heng Chee How, chairman of the NTUC Re-employment Group, states that an advisory was issued as early as 2008 (so kiasu) even though the law only took effect in 2012.

Heng chee how re-employment

You can check out the examples in the guidebook and show your employer how others successfully implemented re-employment practices.

The Re-employment Act doesn’t force you to work till you die (as some people would have you believe).

Conversely, it spells out a standard that allows you to keep your dignity of getting fair wages for fair job responsibilities, and earn a living beyond the retirement age.

Know How To Transition Gracefully

Is there a way to step off the rat race to your next phase of life before you leave earth?

If you hadn’t planned how to do so before retiring, re-employment gives you a transition stage to figure how to value add to mankind meaningfully, and time to prepare for your next adventure.


Also published on Medium.