With more freedom comes greater responsibility

How much money will I actually need when I do eventually retire?

A full and happy retirement is a priority for many. But no two people are alike. A ’one-size-fits-all’ system cannot accurately account for everyone’s individual lifestyle choices, so it makes sense that the way you prepare for your future is likely to be different from others.

On the surface, retirement planning hasn’t changed all that much over the years. You work, you save and then you retire. But while the mechanics may be the same, today’s savers are facing some challenges that previous generations didn’t have to worry about.

Golden years
First of all, life expectancy is longer, which means you’ll need your money to last longer. This is compounded by the fact that more companies are moving away from defined benefit pensions – which guaranteed you a certain amount of money in your golden years – to defined contribution plans, which are more subject to market ups and downs.

So, how can you have the retirement you’ve always wanted? Retirement is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop living. Your retirement should be a time for enjoying your life and the things you most enjoy doing.

Working lives
However, some people are unprepared for retirement due to high debt levels at the end of their working lives or because they were not saving enough during their careers. Sometimes, people are forced into retirement through circumstances outside of their control.

Some people might choose to live off their savings entirely, while others may choose to supplement their income with rental properties. Still others might prefer to have a mix of sources for retirement incomes.

Pension money
Whatever the case, being aware of the options available today can help you prepare for your future in an effective way. With the introduction of pension freedoms, there is no onus on us to cash in our pensions at set ages, and instead we can take our pension money any way we choose. But, with this freedom also comes responsibility, and for some, uncertainty.

Some people find they don’t have a clear plan for what they want from their retirement, and many underestimate how much money they will actually need when they do eventually retire. The reality is our goals are all very individual, but whatever it is you want from your retirement, it pays to plan ahead.

If you have a defined contribution pension, here are six simple tips to consider:
1. Use pay rises as an excuse to save more.
2. Pay in more when a regular spend ends.
3. Maximise any employer contributions.
4. Invest lump sums you receive.
5. Put off breaking into your pension pot.
6. Be choosy about your investment choices.

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