I Should Start Doing Voluntary Top-Up to Medisave
Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a compulsory comprehensive savings and pension plan for working Singaporeans and Permanent Residents primarily to fund their retirement, healthcare and housing needs in Singapore. In an earlier post at the beginning of this year, I gave reasons why as a self-employed, despite having a choice, I still religiously contribute 37% of my income into my CPF accounts. In 2022 (yes, I am probably 15 years too late), to boost the growth of my CPF balances, I started transferring accumulated amount in my Ordinary Account (OA) to my Special Account (SA) to earn the higher interest in SA compared to in OA so as to build up my retirement savings.
At the beginning of the year, I started to ponder if I should also do cash top-ups to CPF to further increase my savings in CPF for retirement. There are 2 ways to go about doing that. One, I can top up cash to CPF SA, and hope that with compounding, I can hit Full Retirement Sum (FRS) by the time I reach 65. Two, I can top up cash to CPF MA, and hope that with compounding, I can first hit Basic Healthcare Sum (BHS), and from then on, all CPF contributions to MA will flow to SA instead to compound in SA. In my mind, mathematically, I believe both ways result in the same numbers in the end, as both accounts are paying 4% interest (correct me if I am wrong). The difference lies with which account does the monies reside in. Personally, I lean towards topping up MA instead of SA.
Earlier this month, YouTuber Kelvin posted a video to discuss this issue. I do not know if this happens to others out there but sometimes for me, even though I have all the valid points, I am unable to make a decision till someone out there "convinced" me with the same reasonings. So here I am, decided and ready to start slow with an additional cash top-up of SGD 100 per month, or SGD 1.2K a year to my Medisave. This is definitely a very small amount, but it is better than not doing anything!
So what are my reasons for topping up MA instead of SA?
1) Psychological Barrier
In 2023, the BHS in MA is set at SGD 68.5K, while the FRS is set at SGD 198.8K. Personally, the BHS is more achievable than FRS, and this positive psychological effect is more motivating for me to push myself to hit BHS as soon as I can (both FRS and BHS increases every year). On the flip side, FRS is just way too far from my current CPF balance. It is rather demoralizing and depressing to see how much more I need to hit the FRS, thus it will be better for myself to try to aim for the achievable first. Once BHS is hit, all contributions towards MA will be channeled to SA and that will help to propel the SA balances further till retirement, but the reverse does not occur, because generally BHS is attained before FRS.
2) Ability to Tap into MA
Since SA balance is strictly meant for retirement, it will not be possible for me to tap into the balances until 65. However, for MA, in case of any form of medical emergencies, I will be able to tap into MA balance for treatment both in Singapore and selected hospitals in Johor, Malaysia. This can serve as an alternative form of savings which can become a useful helpline instead of having to tap into cash reserves in such times. More importantly, it can also be tapped not just for myself, and also for my immediate family members, so that is another plus point to consider.
3) Building Up My "Bond" Portfolio
As mentioned in my previous CPF post, I treat my monies in CPF as the "bond" component in my portfolio. So I believe upon hitting BHS, the flow of my monthly contributions towards SA can speed up. This will help to boost my CPF balances, so that I can enjoy the fruits via CPF Life when I am 65.
One small step will eventually compound and result in big moves in future. I believe the additional small contribution towards Medisave will help to build up my BHS safety net in the near term, and flowing towards SA to target FRS in the longer term. In addition, it can also help me to enjoy more tax relief! As a proponent of CPF, I believe this will be beneficial to me in my journey. Barista FIRE, here I come...!