Hi I’m a 24 years old working freelance with about 3k of spare cash every month. Should I top up my CPF? If yes, should I top up directly to SA or MA or all 3? My main goal is saving for retirement. ? - Seedly

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Asked by Anonymous

Asked on 22 Aug 2018

Hi I’m a 24 years old working freelance with about 3k of spare cash every month. Should I top up my CPF? If yes, should I top up directly to SA or MA or all 3? My main goal is saving for retirement. ?


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Randall Tan
Randall Tan
Level 5. Genius
Answered on 22 Apr 2019

It is always good to save up for retirement. You are young and I am sure that you have not hit Medisave Basic Healthcare sum of $57,400. I suggest top up to the MA capped first (tax relief) and your obligation as a self employed. Followed by all 3 CPF account (Since you are freelancing, you will have tax relief even if you contribute to all 3 CPF account.) Why? Because you will then have the flexibility to either transfer OA to SA if you choose to or you can save up part of it for you future BTO downpayment. All informations can be found here.

Extracted from:https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Members/Schemes/schemes/self-employed-matters/self-employed-scheme

When you contribute to MediSave, you enjoy:

  • Use of MediSave savings for

  • Healthcare expenses for yourself and your family

  • Premium payment for MediShield Life or MediSave-approved private

integrated plans

  • Up to 6% interest per annum on your MediSave savings. Savings in the MediSave Account earn 4% interest per annum, and the first $60,000 of your combined CPF balances earns an additional 1% interest per annum. Member aged 55 and above will also enjoy an additional 1% interest per annum on the first $30,000 of your combined CPF balance from 1 January 2016.

  • Tax relief of up to 37% of your annual NTI, or the CPF Annual Limit of $31,450 for 2015, or $37,740 from 2016 onwards, whichever is lower.

  • Hassle-free licence renewal and application



yup since your main goal is saving for retirement, use the power of compounding to your advantage and top up especially your SA to maximise interest!

kudos to taking the freelancing route so young, and thinking of retirement so early!


Brandan Chen
Brandan Chen, Financial Planner at Manulife Singapore
Level 7. Grand Master
Answered on 22 Aug 2018

Topping up your CPF does have its advantages in terms of the guaranteed compound interest earned, as well as tax relief of a max of 7k per year.

On top of which, you would also need to take into consideration getting your first home. As a free-lancer, you are classified as self-employed and it is mandatory for you to top up your MA account. Hence, the heart of the matter here is whether you should contibute to your OA or SA. My answer to this is YES, and you can consider maxing out your MA and topping up more to your SA to enjoy higher rates of interest.

As a 24 year old, my suggestion for you would be to consider other options (besides CPF) to accumulate your wealth for retirement. This is due to reasons such as:

1) CPF is only available for withdrawal after 65 (or even longer if the law changes)

2) Diversification of retirement income

3) Creating a portfolio with allocation to different risk categories

Some suggestions you can look at is to start investing into ETFs, either through DBS/POSB (STI ETFs) or roboadvisors such as stashaway, autowealth for starters. As you learn more about investments, you may start venturing into stocks, REITS and other financial instruments.

Also, be sure to set aside some of your spare cash for wealth protection, ie insurance, as you slowly accumulate your portfolio. You may drop me an email at [email protected] should you like to discuss anything further.


Ck Chai
Ck Chai
Level 6. Master
Answered on 31 Aug 2018

Freelancers are required to contribute to their Medisave accounts annually, so apart from MA, you can look into topping up SA to build up your retirement fund. However, if you are looking into getting a house of your own, and you don't think you are investment savvy enough, you may want to consider contributing a portion to OA which offers better interest rate than the bank since MA cannot be use to pay for the house.

However, always make sure you have the min 6-12months emergency fund set aside, necessary insurance coverage in place. Do consider start investing, if you are not a high risk taker, consider the SSB and ETFs.

Kudos to you to start planning for retirement at such a young age!


Luke Ho
Luke Ho, Venture Capitalist at CFX
Level 7. Grand Master
Answered on 31 Aug 2018

Hello. First of all, congrats on having that kind of spare cash every month. Most people would drool at the sight of it.

Having worked freelance initially at your age as well before I became a FInancial Advisor, I really have to say that with your current mentality for saving for Retirement, you can afford to go a lot more aggressively and make a lot, a lot more for your retirement than a CPF SA could even dream of.

This might seem contradictory to majority advice, but lets face it - you're not in the majority.

You're freelance. You're young. You have a lot of cash flow compared to someone who knocks out 20% of their salary on a compulsory get go and then has like a ton of responsiblities and expenses (which lets face it, you and I dont have as young people yet unless you plan on getting married soon).

I invest a minimum of $2500 every month into expensive but high yielding, inefficient market funds no matter what happens and am on track to hit at least $500,000 in less than 10 years. Likely a lot more. At the same time, I focus on what I'm good at and increasing my income. I encourage clients with objective-saving to do something similar, because whatever cash you have left over as you get older - is completely yours.

You can also pay for your downpayment (house) with a portion of that money and still have a ton rolling left over. Across 25, 30 years...the volatility of a 10% per annum fund isnt that historically different from 5% one (though obviously SA is risk free, but...)

I only dump money in CPF whenever I want to have subsidized taxes, which will also have a bit more into my retirement in the event of future volatility. Of course, a good financial retirement plan would account for this and have you move out of equities as you hit your 40s and 50s.

As Brandan said, you MUST get insurance first. Please. It would be a shame to have to blow your current healthy situation in an unforeseen circumstance and have to use hard earned savings to do it.

Investing is my specialty, but you can also drop me a message if you'd like my help on this. I think we share similar attitudes, and Id love to work with you.