Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Look Within To Determine Whether You Should Top-Up Your CPF



Super long read. I'm not kidding!!!

It would be a pain if you try to read it on your mobile. 

More importantly, this post is not for casual reading. 

You need to face yourself in the mirror one. If not, it's pointless and just wasting your time...

If still interested, recommend you read it at home on your PC, notebook, or tablet when your mind is calm and rested.

Let's get the rules of engagement out of the way:

1.  I did not ask permission from the authors of the below blog posts to post the links here. Their posts were in the public domain. I not plagiarizing them OK!?

2.  Any bouquets or compliments should go to them directly. I "steal with pride", but I don't "steal" accreditation.

3.  If you don't agree or have problem with their writings, please deal with me directly. 

"Wait, wait! Let me get my maggi mee pot to protect my head first!

OK, send your sticks and stones my way. I'm ready!"

Read this before you top up your CPF

Very balanced post on CPF top-ups! One of the better ones out there...

It's written in collaboration with CPF. I saw the same post reproduced at CPF's website. 

Smart move by CPF! That's how you "Hong Lim" proof your ass!

Does Market Time Works Better Than DCA?

OK, Brian didn't set out to write about CPF; I bet he didn't know his post works great as unintended counterbalance to topping up our CPF!!!

If you're a snake oil financial advisor, you would use the same arguments from Brian to create FOMO (fear of missing out) with your clients, no?

"Don't be stupid lah!? Cash (and T-bills and CPF) will rot if you don't invest! See how much money you're leaving behind on the table long term!?

Even if you're the world's worst market timing Charlie Brown investor, you would still come out on top over "kiasi" savers hiding behing their so called "risk-free" Save More vehicles!"

Why snake oils so interested to help you get rich?

Because you can't make money recommending others to voluntarily top-up their CPF. But once bei kambings bite on Earn More vehicles, that's where you can start to milk and fleece through commissions and fees... Wink.

However, most don't see the "bait-and-switch" routine by some next level snake oils. 

It's like you advertise a super low price for a TV or notebook computer. Once your sales funnel got sucked into your showroom, this is where you start to upsell and cross-sell them all the bells and whistles! 

Ar ber then?

Ask those who walked into the showroom for 1M65, and walked out with 4M65. Kaching!

Trust but Verify

In my old job, I never trust a statistic that I've not personally manipulated myself.

Before I go on, let's poke holes in the 2 blog posts above.

Anyone who knows something about statistics will know we can data-mine whatever past data to suit our own thesis. 


Right off the bat I think those who are more well-read will find the Woke Salaryman's 10.7% annual return for S&P is a little too "snake oil". 

Let's use 8%. Including re-invested dividends.

As for CPF, anyone who use 5% or 6% is just showing they have very little money in CPF. 

Stick with 4%.

As for Brian's Cash returns, it's from a period of low interest rates in the States. Let's use 4%; same same as CPF.

Now you can generate your own "more conservative" statistics. What? You don't trust your own statistics?


It doesn't change the fact that Earn More (not guaranteed and only a faith thing) will always beat Save More (guaranteed but no bragging rights).

That's a given.

Look Within

All I've said above is actually bullshit!!!

That's left-brained stuffs. It gives the illusion of "precision" (10.7%), but when you think about it, it's all based on assumptions, faith, and pure straight-line extrapolation. 

Now try my right-brained voodoo.

You know yourself.

Are you always envious and very jealous when others do better than you?

Were you angry and upset others were selling their HDB flats for above a million? Nothing to do with you, but yet you super "buay song"...

Now imagine you managed to reach 1M65, would you be totally fine to see your peers hitting 4M65 because they used their CPF to make money in properties or stocks?

Or would you turn around and petition CPF is for retirement! Take away CPFIS and ban the use of CPF for 2nd property... (Sounds familiar to HDB is for living only?)

You "upgraded" from a bigger HDB flat in best location mature estate to a much smaller and more "ulu" location condo in suburbia. Why? You die die must have that "live in condo" label or badge...

Now to the flip side, I've shared I have a colleague who forever quit stocks after losing a "mere" $5K... 

The pain was that excruciating for him.

In our community, there's a blogger (he no longer blogs) whom I respect a lot. He also shared he went into a depression after losing money... Even harboured suicidal thoughts...

Thankfully he has moved past and recovered from his dark days.

During the 97 Asian Financial Crisis or 2008 Lehman meltdown, thousands (not hundreds) of investors ended their lives...

It's hard, but who will willingly admit they are made of porcelain or glass? 

I'm sure when we do risk profile surveys, we will prefer to "own self lie to own self" we are made of rubber or stainless steel....


Does that help you to determine whether you should top-up your CPF?

You don't have to study psychology to know yourself.

If you haven't forgotten your literature from secondary school, all we need is to read yourself like we are reading a character from a novel or play. Wink.

That's all!


  1. Hmm ... I thought to top up our CPF for 1M65 we should be looking at our wallet whether it has plenty of spare cash which has no other better alternatives than CPF 2.5% to 4%. Sure win strategy is better than win-lose strategy? No?

    1. CW,

      Of course, that's the logical part or left-brained thinking.

      Alas, if only it were that "simple"...

      You experienced veteran so you can easily spot/ignore the Earn More statistical "lies".

      But see from a bei kambing perspective or when you first started out.

      Isn't the Earn More statistics a lot more like "sure win"?

      Is that not the central "faith" of passive investing and dividend investing???

      Stocks always go up in the long run! Just as long got passive income, unrealised losses don't matter!!!

      Try persuading these people that CPF is better! Forgo 8% and opt for 4%!?

      How's that for leaving too much money on the table?

      It's like telling those CPF "prostitutes" that they should not "abandon" CPF 2.5% and switch to T-bills at 4%... Where got logic?

      Is CPF sure win? On nominal basis sure! But only non-financially literate people would think that way.

      My time when I started work at age 16, fresh graduates earn around $800. Now fresh graduates earn around $4K?

      CPF "sure win" is like saying today's fresh graduates have it better than fresh graduates 40 years ago!

      I just know fresh graduates in the 70s have it better. Starting pay below $500, but after working 10-20 years, some can afford landed properties on a salary!

      My post is not about the "logical" left-brained analysis or clutches.

      It's more about WHO we are.

      If we are carnivore, don't pretend to be a vegetarian.

      If we herbivore, good luck trying to compete with tigers and leopards!

      There's nothing wrong with voluntary contributing to CPF if you know for a fact you suck at investing.

      Or losing money gives you more pain than winning.

      Or when you are climbing down the mountain after years of taking crazy risks on the Earn More path. Stay in mountain too long sure meet tiger one!

      As for those seriously thinking CPF (without tapping CPFIS) can help them climb the mountain, it just shows they are bad at math. That's all!

  2. Very enlightening!

    "Now imagine you managed to reach 1M65, would you be totally fine to see your peers hitting 4M65 because they used their CPF to make money in properties or stocks?" - When spending is better than saving, different methods to same destination!

    I do periodically top up CPF. But not my own. Lol.

    Happy CNY to you, SMOL!

    1. 彩虹妹妹,


      Do whatever gives you joy and peace of mind!

      When it comes to love and relationships, I wouldn't want to use Math to decide what I should or shouldn't do.... Wink.

      Too much left-brained thinking can be a distraction.

      You are right. I agree with what you've shared in your blog.

      Any problem money can solve is not a problem.

      Just like it would make better financial sense for me to continue working full-time, send mom to old folks home, or hire a full-time caregiver maid.

      But because I have "enough", I can choose the more financially stupid decision to be man-of-leisure man friday?

      So not gonna "lie" money not important.

      Then again, I'm not gonna use how much money I have to determine whether I've lived a full and fulfilling life before I go too!

      That would be sad...

  3. Hi smol,

    Money is a tool and not everything. Time is the real asset.

    Enjoy the moment of time.


    1. WTK,

      Not enough money, we have to burn time to acquire it.

      Enough money, it's a great tool to exchange for more leisure time.

      Money lost can be earned back; time lost is forever gone...


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