The pensions landscape has changed beyond recognition in recent years but for most people, ensuring they have enough to live on in retirement has remained a priority.
Retirement is one of the biggest changes we will experience and can be one of life’s positive milestones – this makes it even more important to keep on top of your financial planning and the earlier you start planning your retirement the better. Despite the rising retirement age, we won’t all be able to work forever.
And much as the opportunity to retire can be an attractive one, it also requires making decisions that will have a huge effect on the so-called golden years. Pension freedoms now mean you can have access to your funds at an earlier age (with associated tax liabilities) but what remains true is that your pension doesn’t automatically provide you with an income.
Although the option is there to take the money and run, in reality this has been a double-edged sword and for many has created more confusion and indecision. Buying an annuity might still be the most appropriate route – and remember you’re not obliged to buy from the provider you saved with.
If you’re currently working, and if you can afford it, it’s a good idea to put money aside in another savings account such as an ISA. Even if you have other pension savings, an ISA is a tax efficient savings vehicle that has the added benefit of compound interest to boost your fund.
Most people will also be enrolled on their employers pension scheme through the auto-enrolment initiative but it’s still worth considering a private pension as well, if you don’t already have one, particularly if you have some years to go before retirement. A simple stakeholder pension can be a good option as they can be opened by anyone in the UK and allow flexible contributions, which can be useful if you’re not sure how much you can put aside each month.
Life coaches will tell you that the way to have a successful retirement is to have a plan. They’re thinking about what you might do with your time and ask you to consider what you might realistically expect to achieve whilst remaining happy. We will also tell you that you need a plan – because you need money to be able to live.
As you get closer to retirement it’s worth considering taking advice from a Chartered Financial Planner or Certified Financial Planner™ professional, preferably one with specific experience for later years and pension planning – the decisions you make at this stage could affect your standard of living for the rest of your life.