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Pension Awareness Day 2020: Don’t delay retirement planning

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Today marks Pension Awareness Day – a campaign launched to educate and promote the benefits of saving for retirement.

The Pension Awareness campaign was launched by Pension Geeks back in 2014 and takes place each year on 15 September.

This year it is offering a series of webinars, one-to-one chats or people can view its video library for further information about saving for your retirement.

Meanwhile, to tie-in with the campaign, research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) revealed that over a third of over-50s leave retirement finance planning late in the day or won’t plan at all.

And with this year seeing the highest number of people in nearly two decades reaching the pension freedom age (940,000) coupled with the effects of coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead.

In fact, recent retirees (those aged up to 70) are urging their younger counterparts (those aged 40-55) to use this phase of their lives to plan their retirement so they can make the most of their pension money.

Their top tips include saving more for retirement, starting planning earlier, taking time to decide on how to access savings, finding out how to make the most of pension cash and seeking guidance on how best to organise retirement finances.

Carolyn Jones, head of pensions policy and strategy at MaPS, said: “Given over a third of over-50s have had their finances affected by Covid-19 and we’re now facing a recession, we’re urging people not to delay or skip planning their retirement finances and to look into where to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – whether you’re thinking of retiring later or bringing it forward.

“Your pension is likely to be one of the most valuable assets you hold so it’s really important to start planning early to make sure you make the best choices based on your circumstances. Getting help and talking through your options now could be the difference between having a comfortable retirement or having to work for longer or adjust to living on a lower income.”

It offers the following top tips on how to start planning retirement finances: 

1) Track down your pension pot(s) and check their value.With the average person having 11 jobs in their lifetime, it’s easy to lose track of any pensions you may have had in the past. If you think you’ve lost a workplace pension, the first port of call should be your former employer, or you can contact the provider if you remember the name. If you can’t find details of either, you can contact the government’s Pensions Tracing Service. Once you’ve tracked down your pots, you can check your statements or ask your scheme or provider for an up to date valuation of how much you have saved.

2) Think about your living costs in retirement.Draw up a budget for your expected income and spending as early as possible to give yourself a greater sense of control over your situation. The Money Advice Service has a free budget planner tool.

3) Think about what age you’d like to retire and when you would want to access your pension savings. For some people, this may not necessarily be at the same time. Some people may have already chosen a retirement age with their provider, but if your circumstances have changed and you plan to retire earlier or later, you may wish to reconsider how your savings are being managed to ensure your money is working hard for you. It’s helpful to also check your retirement income using the Money Advice Service’s pension calculator if you’re going through any changes.

4) Consider if your spouse or family need to be factored into your plans. If you wish to provide for family members with your pension savings, this could impact the choices available to you when it comes to accessing your money.

5) Make a free Pension Wise appointment. Available to people aged 50 and over, experts will explain the pros and cons of the six different options for accessing your pension savings, tax implications, how to shop around to get the best deal and avoid pension scams. Telephone appointments are available on 0800 138 3944.

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