Planning for your long term future

Think ahead at least two years before you plan to stop working

Pensions may not be the most exciting thing to think about, but they are an essential part of planning for your long-term future. In fact, your pension has the potential to be one of your most valuable assets, even more than your property. It’s something that could make a significant difference to your lifestyle in later life.

When it comes to retirement planning, it’s best to start thinking ahead at least two years before you plan to stop working. To prepare for this next chapter in your life, our handy checklist can guide you through the important choices you’ll need to make to ensure you’re fully prepared for a comfortable retirement.

Unique challenges
Although retirement planning may seem familiar and straightforward, the truth is that today’s savers face unique challenges that previous generations did not encounter. While the basic concept of working, saving and retiring remains constant, there are new factors at play that can complicate one’s retirement savings efforts.

Planning for your retirement means carefully considering whether you will have enough funds to cover your desired lifestyle after you stop working. While you might be eligible for the State Pension, this might not be enough to sustain your retirement goals.

Additional savings
Additionally, you may want to retire earlier than the State Pension age, which requires additional savings planning to ensure you can afford the retirement lifestyle you envisioned. Careful planning and forward-thinking can ensure that you’ll have the financial security to enjoy your retirement without worrying about money matters.

Important things to keep in mind as your retirement approaches:

Locate your pensions: It’s crucial to determine how much income you’ll receive from all your pensions to properly plan your retirement. If you’ve misplaced any pensions over the years, you can use the UK government’s pension tracing service to locate them.

Check your pension’s value: Keep track of your pension’s value regularly as retirement nears, ensuring that you’re aware of how much money you’ll have during your retirement phase.

When you can take your pension: With a defined contribution pension, you can start taking money out from the age of 55. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the earlier you start taking money out, the longer your pension will need to last. For those with a defined benefit pension, you can usually begin taking it from the age of 60 or 65. However, if you have a defined benefit pension, you might be able to start receiving an income from it from the age of 55.

Get a State Pension forecast: While it may not be your primary retirement income, it’s worth checking to ensure that you qualify for the full amount. You can quickly do this online through the government’s website.

Determine the worth of your other investments: If you have additional investments or savings, such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), it’s important to check their worth as you approach your retirement age because they could supplement your pension.

Understand how to access your pension: There are various ways to access your pension, including buying an annuity for guaranteed income, taking lump sums, or combining both. Your decision depends on your circumstances and what outcomes you expect.

Review your pension’s investment strategy: Take the time to analyse your investment approach as you get closer to your targeted retirement age and see if it still adheres to your risk tolerance. You should obtain professional advice and discuss potential strategies to reduce your exposure over time if you’re planning to receive a lump sum or purchase an annuity.

Seek professional financial advice: Accessing your pension is a critical decision that will impact your income and retirement significantly. That’s why it’s essential to seek professional financial advice before making any decisions.