Dreaming of the future? How to keep your saving plans on track

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Pensions

MoneyPlus Features Team

10th August 2018 at 11:00am

What do you think of when you picture your life after work?

Perhaps you plan to travel, indulge your passions, spend more time with family and friends, or set up your own business.

Whether you’re just starting out on your career or approaching retirement, there are simple things you can do now to help make these dreams a reality in future.

Our recent research shows 73% of people aged 45-54 are already dreaming about life after work.

Take control of your savings – whatever your age

When we’re in our 20s, 30s or 40s, life after work can seem a long way away. Other priorities – getting on the property ladder, juggling work and family life – are usually at the front of our minds.

Here are five useful tips that can help you start to take control.

1. Save what you can and keep track of what you’re saving

Saving what you can afford earlier means your life savings have the chance to grow over time, and the tax relief on your contributions makes pensions a great way to save for your future.

Workplace pensions have made saving easier for millions of people. By the end of this year, almost 10 million employees will have taken a step towards building a better future thanks to joining their workplace pension under auto-enrolment.

Keep track of what you’re saving into your pension online or through an app – you can find ours here – and save more when you can.

According to Money Wise, upping your pension contributions even just a little can bring significant rewards, and could turn a few pounds every month into thousands of pounds into your pension in the long run.

Of course because your pension is an investment, it can go down as well as up and you could get back less than was paid in and tax rules can change in the future and depend on your individual circumstances.

2. Changing jobs: find your pensions

If you change your job, as many people do now multiple times, it can be easy to lose sight of your pensions along the way.

If you do lose track of a pension, finding it is usually straightforward. Contact the pension provider or your former employer to get the ball rolling.

If you don’t have the details, you can use the Pension Tracing Service. We go into this in more detail in our article from earlier this year.

Once you track a pension down, we suggest you review it every year.

If you end up with a few, it might make sense to bring them together into one to make it easier to review. Consolidating isn’t right for everyone, so make sure you’re not giving up any valuable guarantees.

We look at the main things to think about first in our Bring your pensions together: we suggest nine things to think about article.

3. Choose your retirement date (yes, really)

Choosing when you want to retire can give you the time you need to save for the life you have in mind later on. It’s all in the planning, and making a habit of saving…

Jamie Jenkins, Head of Pensions Strategy at Standard Life, says: “It may seem like a finger in the air guess when you’re younger, but the date that you set for retirement on a pension plan does matter (see below).”

Yet our research shows only 8% of over 45s have checked that the retirement date on their pension is still in line with their plans and over half don’t have a clear idea of when they want to retire.

Once you’ve done that, you can update it as you need to – reviewing it regularly is a good thing as a lot can change throughout your life.

4. Make sure your investments are in the right place

It’s never too early to start preparing for the future you want. And where you invest your pension contributions could make a big difference to the life you’ll have in retirement.

So when it comes to choosing or reviewing your pension investments, like any important decision, it’s worth taking the time to think about a few important things, including who manages them and how much risk you’re comfortable with.

You can read more on this in How to choose and review your pension investments.

Some options start to move your pension savings into lower risk investments as you get closer to retirement. If you’re in one of these, it’s important that your plan has the right retirement date.

If it doesn’t, your pension savings could be moved at the wrong time.

If they’re moved too early, they could potentially miss out on any growth, although of course they can go down as well as up in value. On the flip side, if your savings are moved too late, they could be exposed to unnecessary risk.

5. Get the right support at the right time

If your pension provider knows what your plans are, they can provide you with the right information and support, at the right time, whatever your age.

Thanks to pension freedoms, you have more choice about how and when you can take your pension savings. You can normally access your savings from the age of 55 (this could change in the future), take an income from your pensions while still working and keep paying in, although there is a limit to how much you can save tax-efficiently if you do this. You can also decide if and when you stop working.

It’s something you might want to talk through with your adviser, if you have one.

If you don’t, you can find one at unbiased.co.uk. We also have a financial advisor business, which you find out more about here.

What to do next

When it comes to managing your plan and updating your details, it’s easy to go online and log in, or register and use our app.

If you’re looking for guidance, we have guides and tools on Standardlife.co.uk to help

Or read more on the Money Advice Service website.

The views expressed in this article should not be regarded as financial advice and information is correct as of August 2018.

It’s important to remember that a pension is a long-term investment and as such its value can go down as well as up. It could even be worth less than was paid.