Your retirement timeline

Whether you're fast approaching retirement or are still many years away, there's always something you can do – or think about – to help improve your chances of enjoying the kind of lifestyle you'd want for yourself.

Many people aren't sure what they could do and when best to do it. Using our timeline may provide you with some helpful pointers.

The timeline suggests things you may want to consider – or actions you might need to take – at different stages along the ‘countdown' to finishing work.

40 years

About 40 years to go

If you're in your twenties, retirement might seem like it's a lifetime away. But, remember when the iPod first came out. Doesn't seem long ago, does it?

That was 2001.

This certainly makes you think how quickly the years go by – and although retirement may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it might arrive more quickly than you think.

Taking some action now could make that retirement a lot more enjoyable when it does come along.

What to do now

  • Begin by thinking about the kind of retirement you'd want for yourself:
    • Where would you like to live?
    • Do you think you'll want to travel?
    • What sort of activities and hobbies do you think you'll enjoy?
    • Will you be financially supporting anyone else?
  • Start to consider how you'll fund your retirement
  • Make a retirement plan
    • Set yourself some goals – think about what age you want to retire, how much income you want, whether you'll do any part-time work.
    • Think about how much you might need to save.
    • Also consider how much you can afford to save now.
    • Remember, even if you think you can't afford to save much, as little as £50 or £100 per month will help build your retirement fund.
    • Return to your plan regularly to check on your progress.

Little by little

Investing even as little as £50 a month into a pension could add up to a substantial amount over time, as shown below.

£50 per month for 10 years.

The value in today's money of the investment could be = £6,860

Amount paid in = £6,000.

Possible increase to the investment = £860

£50 per month for 20 years.

The value in today's money of the investment could be = £16,000

Amount paid in = £12,000.

Possible increase to the investment = £4,000

£50 per month for 40 years.

The value in today's money of the investment could be = £43,700

Amount paid in = £24,000.

Possible increase to the investment = £19,700

Assumptions

The total amounts shown take account of inflation at 2.5% each year and show the buying power of your pension in today's money. We've assumed a total charge of 0.75% a year and an annual growth rate of 2.4%.

The amount invested each month remains the same and no withdrawals are taken from the fund.

This is not representative of investments in a specific pension and what actually happens may vary considerably. The value of investments can go down as well as up and you could get back less than has been paid in, so the future fund value may be significantly different from the amounts shown.

These figures are a guide only and are not guaranteed. The value of any investment into a pension in today's money will depend on factors including the funds chosen, actual growth rates achieved, the level of contributions made, the charges applied, the actual inflation rate and your chosen retirement age.

This is not a personal illustration.

20 years

About 20 years to go

If you're aged 35 to 45, you're likely to have plenty to think about already. Your career, your home, your family... busy times.

You've probably also thought about the need to provide for your retirement. You may have a pension, perhaps arranged through your work.

At the moment, retirement planning is more likely to be at the back of your mind than the front. But this is the stage in life when many people could benefit from taking a brief ‘time out' to make sure their retirement plans are on track.

What to do now

  • Contact your existing pension provider(s) to find out what your pension fund(s) are worth.
  • Understand whether you're on schedule to achieve the kind of income you're looking for when you retire.
  • Review your retirement plan and see if you need to change anything.
    • Can you afford to contribute more to your pension?
    • If you have more than one pension, would it make sense to combine them?
  • It's worth spending some time to consider what you can do, find out about what you need to think about and whether it is the right action for you to take. If you are not sure, you can speak to a financial adviser. They may make a charge for their services, but it could be money well spent.
  • Look at all your financial arrangements together.
    • Your pension is just one of the ways in which you can provide for your retirement. To get the full picture, think about things such as the value of your property and any savings accounts you may have.

10 years

About 10 years to go

Even if you've kept a careful eye on your retirement planning, this is the time when it pays to do some serious thinking about the decisions you'll need to make.

What to do now

  • Contact your existing pension provider(s) to find out what your pension fund(s) are worth.
  • Take a long, hard look at your plans and check that they're on track.
    • Find details of any pensions you may have lost.
    • Make sure you know your options when it comes to taking the benefits from your pension, and how this will affect your tax position.
  • Find out what you'll be entitled to receive and when from the state

Although many people wouldn't want to manage on the State Pension alone, you need to know how much you'll be eligible to receive.

5 years

About 5 years to go

Even with just five years to go before you're due to retire, it's not too late to make important changes which could help you enjoy a better retirement. This is a good time to start thinking seriously about how long your money may need to last you – many people underestimate how long they may be retired.

What to do now

  • Contact your existing pension provider(s) to find out what your pension fund(s) are worth.
  • Think about how much you'll need to live on when you're retired
    • You might find you don't have as many regular expenses when you retire – but it's important you know how much you're likely to be spending, so you can work out how much income you'll need.
  • Review your plans and consider if you'll have enough income
    • If you're not sure you'll have sufficient income, you could consider options, such as delaying your retirement or consider whether you could manage on less income.
    • Find details of any pensions you may have lost.
    • Make sure you know your options when it comes to taking the benefits from your pension, and how this will affect your tax position.
  • Your savings and investments are important as well as your pension
    • Making the most of your ISA allowance could help you to save and invest more tax-efficiently. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.
  • Find out what you'll be entitled to receive and when from the state
    • Make sure you know how much you'll get from the State Pension and any other benefits you might be able to claim.
  • Think carefully about how long your money may need to last
    • No-one can tell exactly how long they'll live – and most of us probably wouldn't want to! But it's important not to run out of money if you live to be a grand old age.
  • Consider how to provide for your loved ones
    • No-one likes to think about dying, but you can enjoy greater peace of mind if you know your loved ones will be provided for by making a will.
    • Whether you’re planning on using your pension fund for income drawdown or buying a guaranteed income for life, you need to consider whether you want anything to be paid to your dependants when you're gone.

Less than 1 year

Less than a year to go

Now’s the time to collect your thoughts about decisions of how you will take your benefits from your pension. There's a lot to think about:

What to do now

  • Make sure you can afford to retire on the date you've chosen
    • If you review your finances and feel you need to defer your retirement, make sure you tell your pension provider.
    • Find details of any pensions you may have lost.
  • Decide how much you’ll need to live on
    • You’ll need to have a clear idea of your regular outgoings, as well as thinking about paying for unexpected expenses and life’s little luxuries.
  • Find out about your retirement options

      From the age of 55, you have four main choices over how to access the money you've saved:

    • One - withdraw all your pension money
    • Two - take money whenever you need to
    • Three - use it to buy yourself an income for life
    • Or four simply leave the money where it is. You can make your choices later.
  • Read the information your pension provider sends you
    • You’ll receive statements showing how much your pension is worth, together with your options for taking cash from your fund and/or using it to buy an income. This will normally be sent to you six months before your retirement date, with a further reminder of your options two months before you’re due to retire.
  • Check how much you’ll get from the state
    • Your retirement date may not, of course, be at the age when you become eligible for the State Pension. But you should make sure you know how much you’ll get from this and any other benefits you might be able to claim.
  • Consider how to provide for your loved ones
    • No-one likes to think about dying, but you can enjoy greater peace of mind if you know your loved ones will be provided for by making a will.
    • If you're buying an income from your pension fund, you need to consider whether you want anything to be paid to your dependants when you're gone.

If you're not sure what to do, you can seek financial advice. An adviser may charge for their services. You can visit www.unbiased.co.uk to find an adviser in your area.

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