Can your CPF savings keep up with high inflation?
Endowus Insights

Can your CPF savings keep up with high inflation?

Updated
June 13, 2022
published
May 12, 2022
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Can your CPF savings keep up with high inflation

The recent price jumps in daily necessities such as electricity, food and transportation have made Singaporeans jittery about the value of their savings and wealth. While year-on-year headline inflation rates hit as high as 5.4% in March 2022, savings account rates in banks remain low. 

As many Singaporeans have substantial CPF savings relative to cash, one burning question may be this: are my CPF savings able to keep pace with the stubborn inflation?

Singapore’s inflation rate through the years

Based on data provided by SingStat, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Singapore has increased steadily over the past 50 years.

There are many ways that your CPF monies can maintain its purchasing power, even against periods of high inflation. Here are some ways for you to use CPF more effectively against inflation.

Learn more: Rising inflation in Singapore

3 ways your CPF savings can keep up with inflation

1. Make use of CPF higher interest rates, with more interest

CPF interest rates for the Ordinary Account (OA) and Special Account (SA) are at 2.5% and 4% p.a. respectively. On top of that, CPF pays an extra 1% p.a. interest on the first $60,000 of your combined balances, which is capped at $20,000 for OA. CPF members who are 55 years old and above will also get 1% p.a. more for the first $30,000 of their CPF balances.

For younger CPF members with low CPF SA and Medisave (MA) balances, they may want to do a transfer between CPF OA to SA so that they are not only enjoying a higher CPF interest rate of 4% p.a., but are also getting an additional 1% p.a. from more interest.

2. Choose CPF LIFE Escalating Plan

You can choose between 3 different CPF LIFE Plans from the age of 65 to 70 before you receive your payouts. The plans are namely the Standard, Basic and Escalating Plans. The Escalating Plan, in particular, allows you to receive monthly payouts that increase by 2% annually. This can allow your monthly income from CPF to keep up with increasing prices. Such information can be accessed through the CPF LIFE estimator.

The trade-off from choosing the Escalating Plan over the Standard Plan is that the initial payout you receive will be lower. For CPF members who prefer to start off with the same monthly CPF payout, use the CPF LIFE estimator to determine how much more you would need in your CPF Retirement account if you choose the Escalating Plan. In the example shown below, you will need $247,000 in your CPF Retirement account for you to have the same starting monthly payout. 

Read more: Managing your CPF beyond 55

Invest your CPF in growth assets

Generally, in an inflationary environment, property investments are historically expected to be a good inflation hedge. Property values over the long term tend to continue growing steadily, and may also provide potential recurring income for investors. As of Q4 2021, more than $164 billion and $81 billion have been withdrawn from CPF OA for housing purchases and mortgages. However, with the threat of rising interest rates and expected slow economic growth, mortgage rates are on the up. The current Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) — a regulatory limit set to ensure that borrowers are not over-leveraged for property purchases — is set at a cap of 55%.

Other than property investments, consider investing your CPF OA balances in equities instead. The CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) provides a selected list of growth assets, such as SGX-listed stocks, ETFs, and equities-related unit trusts that you can invest in to grow your CPF savings ahead of the inflation rate. Given that a significant portion of our wealth sits in our CPF and property, consider investing globally through CPFIS approved funds for diversification purposes, which are also available through Endowus.

Get started on managing your CPF savings better today. All of these solutions can be accessed conveniently using the CPF app, website, or on the Endowus platform.  

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