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Retirement planning: 10 simple steps to get you started

Written by: Richard Donegan
With retirement planning, time is of the essence. Here are 10 things you can do right now to build your pension fund and finish with a nice nest egg.

With the state pension age steadily increasing, it is a reality that we will have to work for longer than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

It is clear that people, particularly the younger generations are adjusting their expectations accordingly. We are moving to an age where there is no single view of retirement and the savings and pensions’ landscape will need to reflect this.

Here are 10 tips to help you plan for your retirement:

1. Find out how much you will need to retire

Use an online pension calculator to help you determine how much you need in a pension pot. RetireMe is an app that allows you to see your projected annual income and how long your pension fund might last based on the current value and contributions to your pot.

2. Map out your financial future

If you don’t feel confident in managing savings and investments yourself, visit a financial planner to start building an investment strategy. Unbiased can help you find a local independent financial adviser to offer you great advice.

3. Understand your current pension’s worth

Get statements on your current pension and locate old or lost pensions through the government’s free Pension Tracing Service.

4. Start increasing your savings

Experts recommend that 10-15% of your yearly income is saved for retirement. See if you can start putting away 20%.

If someone who is 25 and earning an average salary of £26,000 were to save 20% of their salary each year, retires at 65 and lives to 90 with annual salary increases of 4%, they would have a pension fund value of £251,165 and an annual income of £10,200 over the 25 years, according to RetireMe.

If they were to save just 10% of their salary, they would have a pot of just £128,587 and an annual income of just £5,250 over the 25 years (figures take into account annual growth, annual inflation of 2.5%).

5. Don’t kid yourself

Beware of investment scams and anything else promising high returns with little or no risk. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

6. Save for yourself first

Before helping others financially, we must first help ourselves, and that means putting our retirement savings before other money responsibilities.

7. Max out any employer benefits

Put as much money as you can into your retirement accounts each year, and don’t miss a chance to have your contributions matched by your employer.

8. Minimise spending

We spend £7,600 each year on frivolous items- main culprits are takeaway coffees and unused gym memberships!

9. Reduce debt

Tackle any outstanding debt you have by starting with high-interest loans like credit cards first.

10. Consider working past retirement

Working longer can extend your savings. One in five people under 30 now don’t think they will ever retire, this is partly driven by a change in attitudes towards work, 35% have a desire to keep their mind active, yet 43% feel their savings will be insufficient to meet their needs in retirement.

Richard Donegan is managing director of online share dealing site Selftrade

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