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Time stands still for no-one and if you’ve hit the half-century, retirement suddenly becomes a big topic. How big is your pension pot? Are you saving enough for a comfortable retirement? Worryingly, research shows that one in six of the over-55s have no pension savings at all other than the State Pension, while a quarter don’t know how much they’ve saved. If your retirement funding isn’t on track, now is the time to take action.
Take stock of your financial position, starting with your State Pension. Next, collect up all information on your existing pension plans, bearing in mind there may be several. The pensions tracing service can help you find any forgotten policies lying dormant, and a free telephone appointment with Pension Wise will help you to talk through all your options. Finally, tot up any savings, investments, and property you have, to complete the overall picture.
Now put together a realistic monthly budget for you to live on in retirement, with details on regular outgoings such as property costs and household bills, food, transport, clothing, holidays, and personal expenditure. Online budget calculators such as this one can help you do this. Assuming you end up with a shortfall between income and outgoings, consider the following actions to help plug the gap.
If you are a property owner and fall into the category of being ‘asset rich but cash poor’, making your home work harder could be a good option. Consider renting out a spare room under the government’s Rent A Room Scheme, which allows you to earn £7,500 per year cash free. Of course, there’s also Airbnb, JustPark for your driveway or garage, and spareground for storage space.
Equity release is a convenient way to tap into the value tied up in your home. By taking out a lifetime mortgage (repayable when you go into long-term care or pass away), you can use the loan to boost your retirement income. Here’s a handy calculator to see how much you could borrow. Choosing the right plan is a complex business, and professional advice is a must. Of course, you can also sell your current home and downsize, using the profit to top up your old-age fund.
The traditional concept of retiring is gradually being replaced by different life choices. Many people actually don’t want to stop working completely and postponing the end of your working life or scaling down gradually may be financially more viable too. And the longer you work, the more money you can put away for when you need it later on.
Whether you carry on in your current role for longer or become semi-retired, take on a side hustle or part-time work, or even start your own business in your autumn years, there are proven health and wellbeing benefits to staying mentally alert. And after you reach state pension age, there’s no NI and less tax to pay, meaning you can keep more of what you earn.
Written by Tassia Cloran