13th November 2018 at 10:12am
By Elle Tucker
Are you happy – and looking forward to the future? Well, according to a recent study, you might be reassured to know that the fun and relaxation starts at 44.
And the really great news is that this ‘age of contentment’ and enjoying the finer things in life carries on into our 50s, 60s and beyond.
If you’re busy meeting the challenges of getting on the property ladder and boosting your career, that may seem a long way off.
But a little forward planning, particularly when it comes to your finances, can bring a sense of contentment in the shape of ‘financial wellness’ at any age.
It’s good to talk money
Which takes us nicely to Talk Money Week (12–18 November, 2018), which is all about getting more people talking about and making the most of their money. Why? Because it’s important.
“The messages that so many of us are given about money are that it’s not good to be too focused on money and that there’s more to life,” says life coach, Corinne Worsley (www.corinneworsley.com).
“We all have a relationship with money, and it’s like any other relationship in life. The better you treat your money, the better it treats you. Money needs guidance, it needs leadership and it loves attention.”
Here are some simple steps you can take at every and any stage of life to help you take the lead with your money.
Start early and take control in your 20s
In our 20s, we’re often preoccupied with finding work, saving for a home – and finding the right person to share it all with.
Balancing a lower income at the beginning of a career path with saving for something as important as bricks and mortar can seem challenging.
For this age group, if you can take control of any debts, plan for your future and start trying to build up a savings buffer it can make a big difference later in life. Our article about helping ‘Generation Rent’ has some tips.
And do consider starting a pension as early as you can. Nowadays many people are automatically joined into their workplace pension scheme and benefit from payments from their employer. If you’re eligible, it makes sense to take full advantage of what you’re entitled to, otherwise you’re effectively passing up on free money. Read more on the benefits of a pension here but remember pensions and some ISAs are investment products and their value can go down as well as up and they may be worth less than was paid in.
Looking forward might also mean starting to save for short- to medium-term goals, like a house deposit. A tax-efficient ISA could help you invest and save for the bigger things in life.
Options include the Government-backed Help to Buy ISA, which gives investors a 25% bonus on top of their savings as long as they meet certain criteria, or the Lifetime ISA, which can be used to get a foothold on the property ladder or put towards your retirement savings.
Adapt to new priorities in your 30s
By our 30s, we might be more established in our careers, and have made it onto the housing ladder – but an extra expense often comes along at this time in the shape of a family.
Which is why planning for nursery, school and higher education fees could be another reason to look at ISAs or other types of savings plan: your pension is there for the long term but an ISA, for example, could be ideal for those things you need sooner.
Your ISA allowance is now sitting at a healthy £20,000 each year. If your earnings are rising it’s worth considering if you can afford to put a little more into an ISA or your pension, it can all add up.
Take stock and make plans in your 40s
In our 40s, we might get a sense that life is moving faster than we thought, which is why many of us start to think much more seriously about pensions – and how much more we might need to invest in our future.
You can check if your pension savings are on track for the lifestyle you want to enjoy after work using our pension calculator. Many people will reach the peak of their earning power in their 40s and investing in your pension during the good times can take the pressure off later.
It’s also a good time to track down any pensions you may have lost if you have changed jobs several times. The Pension Tracing Service can help.
If you have more than one pension, it might make sense to think about bringing them together into one to make it easier to review, but this isn’t right for everyone. We list the main things to think about in our Bring your pensions together: we suggest nine things to think about article.
The freedom to make choices in your 50s
The research which found that the contented life begins at 44 was based on a survey of over-55s who said some of the best things about being in your 50s included not being in debt and knowing retirement is in sight.
If you have a modern flexible pension, you get a chance to enjoy pension freedoms, introduced three years ago, which allow people more flexibility when it comes to accessing their retirement savings, currently from age 55.
You can dip into most modern pension pots from age 55 if you wish to – to have the choice to work less, enjoy life more, or support the younger generation with their plans. Or keep on saving… the point is, you decide what to do with your money.
It’s no wonder that those who can look forward to being able to afford the things they’ve always wanted and the freedom to pursue their hobbies and passions are feeling content.
Take the lead
Whatever stage you’re at, by taking the lead and fine tuning your financial health – you’ll have more to look forward to.
By taking control of your finances and your future, your life ahead could end up making you a lot more content than you’d ever imagined…
Elle Tucker is a freelance journalist.
The information here is based on our understanding in November 2018 and should not be regarded as financial advice. Your own circumstances will have an impact on tax, and tax and legislation may change. A pension and some types of ISA are an investment and their value can go down as well as up and may be worth less than was paid in.