2 Investing Biases that Hurt Your Retirement Savings

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Being aware of our behavioural biases could mean a significant increase in retirement savings. There are two common biases that can affect how we save for retirement:

1. Present bias – the tendency to put more value in current or short-term decisions than the future

2. Exponential-growth bias (EGB) – the tendency to underestimate and neglect the power of compounding investment returns.

A person with present-bias may intend to save more in the future but never do so; while a person with EGB will underestimate the returns to savings and the costs of holding debt.

All is not lost, however, as understanding your own biases is the first step to creating a proper retirement savings plan to fund the lifestyle you want when you stop working.

Self-awareness has the potential to reduce the impact of our biases. For example, a person who is aware of his/her EGB could rely on the market to acquire tools or seek advice, and a present-biased person could use committed arrangements to control the impulses of his/her future self.

It is proven that people who understand their EGB, hence accurately perceived the power of compounding, had about 20% more savings than those who neglect compounding completely.

So what does this mean? Be aware and keep check of your biases, and your retirement nest egg could be a lot bigger.

A Quick Guide To Retirement Planning

Many people work their entire lives with one goal in mind – retirement. It’s one of the most important life events that is experienced by most people.

From a personal and financial perspective, achieving an easy, well-funded retirement is a lifelong process that requires early planning and commitment to a long-term goal. Once you reach retirement age, you can then enjoy the benefits of a comfortable retirement in which you have more than enough money to cover your living costs.

Managing Your Retirement

When it comes to retirement planning, the earlier you can start in your career, the better off you will be.

The problem, however, is that most young people are not thinking about retirement. After all, when you are in your 20s or 30s, being 65 or older can seem like forever.

Even for older people, it can be daunting. While everybody would like to retire in comfort and financial security, the amount of time and complexity of creating a successful retirement plan can make the whole process somewhat intimidating.

As a matter of fact, retirement planning often can be done very easily. All it takes is a little homework, an obtainable savings and investment plan, and the long-term commitment to preparing for your retirement years.

How Much Do You Need for Retirement?

After you stop working, your expenses don’t stop. In fact, given the fact that you probably will be dealing with more health issues, they are likely to be higher.

So how much money do you actually need to fully fund a comfortable retirement? While an exact answer is impossible to give, there are some factors that should be considered:

Medical Expenses – If and when you become ill, you are going to want the top-quality medical services that are available. Most people don’t want to have to depend on charity or welfare. In Singapore, everyone is entitled to MediShield Life benefits. But this publicly funded program only covers minimal expenses. And there often is a gap between what the government will pay for and what you actually need.

Living Expenses – You are still going to have to live indoors, wear clothes, eat food, and have heat and fresh air to breathe when you are retired. All of these things cost money. Even if your mortgage is paid off by the time you retire, you are still going to have to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance costs.

Other Expenses – A comfortable retirement includes such non-essential expenses as entertainment, transportation costs, and other expenses that don’t fall into the other categories.

Add these all up, add the rate of inflation between now and your retirement date, and you have a general idea of how much money you are going to need for your retirement. Now all you have to is multiply that number by how long you expect to live!

Start Planning Now

Retirement planning is a process that takes decades of commitment in order to achieve the end result: The comfortable retirement you deserve. The concept of saving and investing money in a retirement fund may seem daunting, but with a few basic calculations and commitment to a realistic plan, you can achieve it.

Should You Make A Will?

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A will is a legally enforceable declaration of how a person wishes his/her assets to be distributed after death. In a will, a person can also recommend a guardian for his/her children. A well-constructed will ensures that your wishes are carried out, and it can make things simpler and easier for your heirs.

When a person (non-Muslim) dies without leaving a will, he is said to have died intestate. Sometimes, even if a person has a will (died testate), the will may not be properly drafted and certain assets are left out of the will. These remaining assets (net-estate) will fall into intestacy.

Intestate Succession Act (Chapter 146), the mother of all estate planning laws in Singapore, applies in these situations. According to the law, regardless what the deceased may have wished, the net-estate will be distributed as below:

Who survives the deceased:

Assets distributed to:

Spouse (No issue or parents)

Spouse – 100%

Spouse & issue

Spouse – 50%

Issue – 50% in equal portions

Issue  (No spouse)

Issue – 100% in equal portions

Spouse & parents (No issue)

Spouse – 50%

Parents – 50% in equal portions

Parents (No spouse or issue)

Parents – 100% in equal portions

Siblings (No spouse, issue or parents)

Siblings – 100% in equal portions

Grandparents (No spouse, issue, parents or siblings)

Grandparents – 100% in equal portions

Uncles & aunts (No spouse, issue, parents, siblings, children of siblings or grandparents)

Uncles & aunts – 100% in equal portions

None of the above

Government – 100%

 

Even if the consequences may seem unfair and undesirable, if you do not have a will, the law decides how your assets are distributed. There are many cases where family members and relatives have fallen out over the distribution of the deceased’s assets. Your hard-earned money may not be given to people whom you truly care for and are in need of money. Worst, it may end up with someone whom you dislike. Creating a valid and up-to-date will is of great importance in estate planning.

Are You Prepared for Your Child’s Education?

education moneyAt the rate education costs are escalating, tertiary fees can become exorbitant by the time our children are ready. It is no wonder less than half of Singaporean parents are financially prepared for their children’s education based on a survey conducted by OCBC Bank in December 2013.

Tuition fees for local universities are estimated to inflate at 3.5 percent per annum, whereas the increase in fees at overseas universities such as the US, UK and Australia, can range from 4.8 to 5.9 percent. If we include living expenses and airfare (for overseas universities) which will also inflate at estimated 3 and 5.3 percent per annum respectively, the total amount can become a huge financial strain if proper planning is not done.

Annual tuition fees for NUS, according to their website, are $9,000 for the average course of study.

Assuming an average course is 3 years = $27,000 total fees.
Assuming education inflation of 3.5% for 20 years = about $50,000.

Hence, when it comes to planning for our children’s education, start early with an education plan. It is essentially an endowment policy, in which we receive a lump sum at maturity. Some of these policies pay out a sum of money once every few years. This will ease our worry of not having sufficient funds to pay for our kids’ education in the future.