SINGAPORE - One million dollars seems like a huge sum of money to any young adult.

It can probably buy you a small condominium. Or a few cars. I wouldn't even know what I would buy if I had $1 million.

It stretches my imagination to think about how long I will have to work to get to that magical seven-digit sum.

But for those of us starting our working life, we had better hope that we accumulate that amount in the next 30 to 40 years. Because we may all need around $1 million for our retirement.

That was the surprising conclusion last week when I used the retirement estimator on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) website.

My premises were simple. Assume a 25-year-old hoping to stop work at 62 and expecting to live to 83 - the life expectancy for Singapore men.

I assumed that the person would need $2,000 a month in "present dollars" - basically, that after retirement, he would consume the amount of goods and services that $2,000 can buy him today.

The CPF site assumed an inflation rate of 3 per cent and investment returns during retirement of 4 per cent.

And after the number-crunching, the figure of $1.14 million was generated.

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