Seven points to help navigate your retirement journey
This year, over 500,000 people will reach state retirement age. Each person will face a very different retirement journey: many choose to work beyond this point, others have retired already.
What they all have in common is the need to make difficult decisions about planning for, funding and managing their money in later life. To help navigate this milestone, here are seven things to consider:
1) Think about the shape of your retirement
Retirement is no longer linear. Some people continue to work into their 70s, while others jump at the chance to slow down. For some it’s unpredictable and overwhelming, for others it’s a positive experience, with many new opportunities. Whatever you decide, spend time mapping out a plan. Without this, many people can experience a loss of identity and a lack of purpose.
2) Get your finances in order
If you have had multiple jobs over your lifetime, the likelihood is you have multiple pension pots. The first step is to trace any lost and forgotten pension pots, find out what you have, and think about whether you want to bring them together under one roof.
3) Make a budget
Once you know how much money you can access in retirement, think about the lifestyle you want and how much income you need to fund it. The Legal & General Retirement Calculator could help you work out how much your pension could give you, based on your age. You can then add any other savings or investments into the mix, as well as the State Pension.
You can find out what you will receive by getting a State Pension Statement from the government website. When budgeting, consider any potential changes to spending habits, and factor in likely reduction in income. Small reductions across the board can really add up. While learning to manage your finances won’t necessarily result in more income, it will help you make the funds you have available go further.
4) Think about how to make your money last
The reality of planning for retirement in a post-pension-freedom world is complicated. There are so many options now, and thousands of people are accessing their pensions without planning. Don’t be one of them. Not having a plan could leave you short of funds in later life, or even see you become overly modest with the amount you access.
Either way, the result is the same: you can’t enjoy the retirement you really want. For starters, check your life expectancy using an official calculator and plan for the longest life possible, not the average. It’s only an estimate, but you’ll have a much clearer idea of how long you will need to fund your basic living costs.
5) Consider ways to boost income
There are various ways to boost your retirement income, if you feel your pensions savings are not adequate. The obvious option is to delay your retirement. Not only will this mean receiving an income for longer, it also means you can defer your State Pension. For people reaching the State Pension age after 6 April 2016, your State Pension will increase by the equivalent of 1% for every nine weeks you defer.
Alternatively, you could consider a slower transition into retirement, steadily reducing the number of hours you work so that your income stream doesn’t stop so abruptly. Part-time work and turning a hobby into an income can also help you adjust to this new chapter in your life.
6) Thinking about the family home as a valuable asset
Releasing cash from your home is another way to boost income in retirement. One option is to downsize; moving to a smaller, less expensive house. There will be costs involved and of course the upheaval to consider, but after paying moving costs and stamp duty, there could be money left over to use as you wish.
The other option is releasing funds from your home while you still live in it, by securing a loan against the property such as equity release. While this is not right for everyone, it can make a difference to homeowners in the first decades of their retirement. If you have an extra bedroom in your house, you could also consider letting the space out, or making the room available on Airbnb.
7) Consider advice
When planning for retirement, consider taking financial advice. You will be faced with a series of complex decisions that can shape your income for the rest of your life, and the support of an adviser will make navigating these choices much easier. If you are unable to afford financial advice, then it is important to at least book an appointment with Pension Wise or the Money Advice Service.
The shape of retirement has changed dramatically. It’s no longer a single decision and people don’t necessarily switch immediately from working to not. Some continue to work, others go back to college, some start a business, and many take up a hobby.
With people living longer and pension freedoms having brought more autonomy, those approaching retirement need to take time to consider what they want from this exciting chapter. As a starting point, it’s worth thinking about these seven considerations, and setting aside some time every week to think about what works for you and your family.
Emma Byron is MD at Legal & General retail retirement