Thinking about your plans for the future is not easy. Our research has found that one in seven people (16%) don’t like thinking about the future, while more than a fifth (22%) feel they’ve left it too late to save for tomorrow.
This is despite the fact many people think that saving for the future, starting to pay into a pension, or taking financial advice are some of the most important financial decisions you can make.
But planning for the future doesn’t have to be hard. No matter whether you’re looking to retire in 10 years, five years or the next 12 months, there are some practical steps you can take right now to make the most of your life ahead.
Our expert says...
People find it very hard to think about the future, so it’s very tempting to put it off. You might not know what your options are, or what you want, or you might feel you can always ‘do it later’. But putting your head in the sand is not the answer. If you’re serious about making plans for the future, finding answers to some key questions is a great place to start.
Know your state pension age and entitlement
One in four people (24%) say the State Pension will be their main source of income in retirement . Hopefully you won’t be in this position, but the State Pension could make a big difference to your plans for retirement.
The full State Pension is currently £155.65 a week, although the exact amount you will receive depends on the National Insurance Contributions you've paid over your life. It’s worth checking how much you could get, to help plan your budget in retirement. You can request a State Pension forecast from the government.
The age when you can claim your State Pension is rising, which may have an impact on your plans. At the moment it’s 65 for men and will reach 65 for women by November 2018. It will then rise to 66 by 2020 and 67 by October 2028. You can quickly find out when you’ll be eligible to claim the State Pension by answering a few questions on the government’s website.
What pensions do you have?
People change jobs more frequently these days. The average person will have had around six or more jobs throughout their career by the time they reach retirement. In that time, it’s easy to lose track of any workplace pensions you might have paid into.
It’s important to know how much you’ve saved for retirement through the years and what kind of income this might give you. You might have a mix of defined benefit pension (where your pension is linked to your salary and amount of time you were a member of the scheme) and defined contribution scheme (where you pay into a fund that is invested).
You can get in touch with the government’s Pension Tracing Service to track down any pensions you’ve had over the years. The Pension Tracing Service will give you the contact details for your old employers’ pension schemes, but it’s up to you to make arrangements to claim you pensions.
Do you know how your investments are performing?
It’s natural to want to make the most of any pensions or other savings and investments that you’ve built up over the years. Reviewing your investments to check if they're achieving the returns you need is a good idea if you haven’t looked at them for some time. You might find that you have more appetite to take greater investment risk, or perhaps you'll want to take steps to protect the value of what you’ve built up.
Speaking to a professional financial adviser can help you make sense of your options. Skipton Building Society offers a comprehensive financial review service. We’ll help you understand the income you’ll need for retirement, looking at your unique circumstances and how you can meet your goals. Remember though, the value of investments could fall as well as rise and you may end up with less than your initial investment.
Our expert says...
Your plan for retirement is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s important that you consider taking advice and fully understand your options. A professional financial adviser can look at your personal situation and recommend a course of action tailored just for you.
Are you debt-free for retirement?
For most people, their biggest single monthly cost is their mortgage, often followed by repaying credit cards or loans. Imagine how much further your retirement income could go if you didn’t have any outstanding debts to think about.
You might want to prioritise your debts. Paying off credit cards or personal loans first often makes sense, as these usually have the highest interest rates and are therefore the most ‘expensive’ debt you might have.
If you still have some way to go on paying off your mortgage and are in the position to do so, you might want to overpay. Many mortgage providers let you usually overpay up to 10% of your mortgage balance a year, without incurring any early repayment charges. Overpayments can help you save money over the term of your mortgage. If you choose to pay more than your minimum monthly payment or pay a lump sum, you will reduce reduce your outstanding balance and could save money in interest payments. Our mortgage overpayment calculator helps you work out how overpaying could benefit you.
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According to feedback from 6,721 financial advice customers between July 2009 and December 2015, 93% of our customers would recommend our financial advice services to their family and friends.
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