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3 tips to start planning your pension at any age

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Start early, understand the process, invest as much as you can. These are some typical tips you’ll find online when looking for help with your pension planning. But at what point in your life should you be doing them?

Pension planning and retirement are complex topics for anyone to tackle, but they’re particularly important to women for two reasons:

  1. On average, women live longer than men, which means we’ll be living off our pensions for a longer period of time.
  2. The pension gender gap is not closing quickly enough. 2020 research found that the average UK gap is currently 38%. That means men have 38% more money than women in their pensions.

 

We’re living longer & poorer - that sucks!

 

Let's put that into perspective:

If a man retires with a pension pot of £80,000, the current 38% gap would mean a woman retires with only £49,600. That’s a difference of £30,400.

That’s why it’s so important to take your pension seriously as early as you can. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you with some pension tips for every age. 

You can either skip through to your age group, or treat this entire article as a checklist - if you’re in your 40s, why not double check what we’ve included in our 20s and 30s tips before moving on...

01

Top tips in your 20s

Be flexible. 

You need to feel in control of your pension, of course, but it’s equally important to be flexible at this stage. Make sure you understand the basics - what a pension is, how it works, what type you might open (or already have!)... This is the beginning of your pension journey, and you need to be able to adjust to changes in your circumstances over time. 

Understand.

If you’re going to be flexible, you need to understand how your circumstances will impact your pension. For example, do you understand what makes up your pension contributions? Have you figured out what percentage of your wages you’d like to save away each month? 

Keep track of key news on national pension schemes, as well as how the pension gender gap might impact you - basically, understand as much as you can about your current pension. 

Invest.

If you’re in your 20s, you have a long time to go before you’ll need your pension fund, which makes investing a great way to help it grow! If this is your first time investing, you’ll need to figure out your risk profile, as well as decide where and how you want to invest. 

Will you ‘go green’ with your pension? There are more and more options for sustainable and impact pension investments, and you can read about some of them here

02

Top tips in your 30s

Time saves you money. 

For every ten years you wait, you may need to pay up to double into your savings just to get the same pension income. When was the last time you reviewed your pension payments? If you’re just starting out in your 30s, make sure you understand not only what you need to do, but also how you can maximise your results.

Don't touch it.

Your 30s are typically a time full of large payments, from property, to a new car, to raising and caring for any dependants. During this time, try your best to leave your pension fund untouched.

Check your workplace pension.

By now, you’ll probably have had a couple different jobs, and each of those will have come with a pension scheme. Our co-founder Olga wrote an article on ‘Everything you need to know about pensions, and how you can save your taxes’ - do you understand everything she talks about?

03

Top tips in your 40s

Be realistic.

It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, but if you’re starting in your 40s, this does mean you need to be realistic. Maybe it’s time to revise your retirement plans - how can you change your current lifestyle to allow for future needs? Do you want to do that?

Whereas in your 20s, you need to be more flexible about what retirement might look like for you, by now you should start to have a more certain plan in mind. 

Consider other savings.

If you have ISAs or other investments, you can use these, or a one-off payment, to boost your pension fund. However, make sure you’re not just rearranging money from one emergency fund to another. Check out the PensionBee Pension Calculator to see how much you should be saving.

Check your workplace pensions (AGAIN...).

This tip is a continuation from your 30s - you need to make sure you’re on top of your old workplace pensions. If you haven’t already, review your pension provider, and see what else is out there.

You could also think about combining your different pension schemes - however, be aware of the conditions that might be attached, as some workplace pensions come with benefits you lose through merging.

04

Top tips in your 50s

Maximise your pension.

Once you reach your 50s, it’s all about maximising your pension. You should be reviewing your plans more regularly than before - at least every 6-9 months. Don’t forget about things like lifetime allowance, or your full annual allowance (which you might be able to access unused funds from, depending on your circumstances).

If you’ve been investing since your 20s, now is also the time to reconsider your risk level - you’ll be wanting to withdraw sooner rather than later, after all!

Decide on your income sources.

Are you dreaming of a retirement that doesn’t require you to work a single day? Or would you like to stay part-time at your current job? Maybe retirement is the chance to try something new? Whatever your work goals, make sure you’re making them a reality.

Be realistic.

Think about your future - what are your retirement plans looking like? If you’ve always dreamed of moving out of (or into!) the city when you retire, how much money is it going to take to make that a reality? 

It’s also worth having a back-up plan when it comes to big life decisions such as relocating, just in case your situation changes, or certain decisions fall out of your control.

How are you feeling about your pension plans? Ready to start taking action? We've got a module all about pension planning available on our Money School - have you tried it out?

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