The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908 to set aside a day to honour all mothers.

Fun fact: Anna Jarvis, the founder, was insistent that the apostrophe in “Mother’s Day” is in singular possessive form, not plural possessive (Mothers’ Day), so that we love and honour our own mother in the household.

Many Singaporean mothers took an extended break from work or even took on the task of caring for the family full-time, resulting in a lower CPF balance for herself. Here are 4 suggestions that you can consider to bolster your mother’s retirement plans, through some simple CPF transfers made online. Do bear you and your mother’s personal circumstances in mind, as this is meant to be a personal gift after all.

1. Top up her CPF SA/RA with cash

Consider giving your mother a CPF Mother’s Day present by topping up her CPF account with cash. Your mother can enjoy the higher interest rates of the CPF Special Account (SA)/Retirement Account (RA), which goes up to 6% p.a. if she is above 55, helping her build up her retirement nest.

This gesture will be made even more attractive next year in 2021 with the recent budget announcement where the Government will match every dollar of cash top-ups made to the CPF Retirement Account for Singaporeans who have not reached the Basic Retirement Sum (currently $90,500).

Under this Matched Retirement Savings Scheme, not only will your mother get to enjoy a cash match from the government of up to $600, you will also benefit from additional tax relief.

2. Make a CPF transfer from your Ordinary Account (OA) to her Special Account (SA)

If the current economic climate has made you more inclined to keep your cash for rainy days, you can also do a transfer from your CPF OA to your mother’s CPF SA/RA account. In this CPF transfer, she can also benefit from the higher interest rate from CPF.

The catch is that you need to have enough in your CPF OA before you can make the transfer - long story short, you need to meet the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) and the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) before you can transfer your CPF monies to your loved ones. Check out the detailed working example by CPF here.

Should you use cash or CPF to top up her SA?

This is a personal decision. To even be able to use CPF, you must have an amount equivalent to FRS in the first place, as stated above. For most young working adults in or before their mid 30s, this is unlikely to be an available option.

Topping up her SA by cash will give younger adults tax relief as well. As such, this should be the preferred choice for most younger people.

3. Boost her CPF MediSave Account(MA) with a cash top-up

As we prepare for old age, it is prudent to apportion a part of our wealth to healthcare costs to alleviate any medical expenses that may cause unexpected financial stress to the household.

Doing a cash top-up to your mother’s CPF MA not only forces us to dedicate a part of our money for her needs, the monies inside can also grow at a rate of up to 5% p.a.. The most practical way to use this is to:

  1. Top up her Medisave account using cash and
  2. Pay for her Integrated Shield Plan using the cash top-up, so that
  3. She enjoys tax-relief (if applicable) from the top up in her next tax-filing.

More importantly, CPF MA covers healthcare costs such as Integrated Shield Plan Premiums, hospitalisation bills (including day surgeries, psychiatric hospitals, and day rehabilitation centres), and other outpatient claims (including dialysis treatment, or outpatient chemotherapy).

4. Make a CPF transfer from your CPF to her MA

Finally, you can transfer from your own CPF monies to her MA account. The limit you can transfer is based on:

  1. Your available balance in SA and/or OA,
  2. Your mother’s Basic Healthcare Sum (BHS) (currently BHS limit is at $60,000), and
  3. The amount that you want to contribute.

You can see a quick video on how to do the transfer on CPF here.

Do note that for this transfer, CPF prioritises transferring your SA balance over your OA, so your family will not be able to earn additional interest from a CPF OA to MA transfers if you have an existing SA balance.

Should you use cash or CPF to top up her MA?

Again, this is a personal decision. The benefit of CPF MA transfer is that it has fewer restrictions - you do not need to meet the FRS requirements before you can make the transfer. In that case, it is probably more beneficial for you to prioritise using your CPF to top up your mother’s MA instead of your cash.

Beyond helping our mothers with their finances, we should definitely show our appreciation in ways they treasure most, be it helping out with household chores, writing a card thanking her for her contributions, or even planning a holiday with her (eventually). Anna Jarvis tried to stop the commercialisation of Mother’s Day when she realised that florists and charities were using it as a marketing gimmick. Likewise, while helping our mothers financially is nice, it is much more important to be appreciative and helpful especially today, and also every day.