The amount of money you should save for a pension depends on what you expect your retirement to look like.

If you’re planning for adventure, fine dining and luxury holidays, your retirement pot will need to be a lot bigger than if you dream of relaxing at home and pottering around the garden.

In reality, most of us will want a combination of the two. We’re unlikely to have the energy we had in our 20s to take to the high seas. But, thanks to improved lifestyles and medical advancements, we’re generally a lot fitter and healthier in our later lives than we were 50 years ago.

So, as well as planning for the retirement you dream of, you also have to account for the fact that you’re likely to spend several decades in retirement. That means you’ll need to ensure you have enough money saved to enjoy it, right to the end.

What you imagined in your 20s may not be quite so desirable when you reach your 50s and 60s

What's your target income in retirement?

The first step is to calculate your likely outgoings as this will help you determine the income you’ll require. Most people assume their income needs will stay the same when they retire – but in reality, you probably won’t need as much as you think you do.

For example, you’ll probably have paid off the mortgage, school fees will be a thing of the past, and your grown-up children will have stopped calling for top-ups when things get tight…. maybe! There are no work travel costs and no more payments to your pension fund or other investments.

But you’ll want to indulge yourself every now and then. And there will still be unexpected costs, like home repairs and medical expenses, which need to be factored in.

Plus, there’s inflation. The cost-of-living doubles approximately every 25 years, so it’s sensible to add in a comfortable safety margin to your monthly income calculations.

How long will your retirement be?

The state retirement age is currently 65, but if you were born after March 1961, you’ll be working until your 67th birthday before you can claim a State Pension. Do you plan to work up to or even beyond retirement age?

This is a choice you should be able to make as you approach retirement. What you imagined in your 20s may not be quite so desirable when you reach your 50s and 60s. Many people choose to retire early, but you can only do this if you have enough money in your pot.

Remember that your retirement income needs to carry you through from the moment you retire right to the end, which will hopefully be 20 or even 30 years and beyond.

When should you start saving into your pension?

The earlier you start saving, the less you’ll need to put aside to accumulate the same amount when you retire. And that’s because of the magic of ‘compounding.’

As your pension increases in value over time (subject to the usual market ups and downs), your pension fund will reinvest any gains, which also grow in value. Compounding is like rolling a snowball down a snow-covered hill… the longer it rolls, the bigger it gets.

So even if you can only put a small amount into a pension when you’re young, it’s going to be worth it over the longer term.

Retirement is an inevitable part of life, putting off paying into a pension is only going to cost you more in the long run.

How much should I save?

Your financial planner will understand that it’s challenging to save when you’re young, especially for an event that seems so far way away. The cost of housing, childcare, and the increasing costs of living all put a strain on most people’s incomes.

But retirement is an inevitable part of life. And for all the reasons outlined above, putting off paying into a pension is only going to cost you more in the long run.

Although there is no fixed amount, it all depends on what you expect from your retirement. Some advisers recommend that you should have saved up to ten times your average work-life salary by the time you retire. So, if your average work-life salary is £50,000, you should aim for a pension pot of £500,000.

If you have a workplace pension, your employer is required to contribute. The legal minimum that must be paid into a workplace pension is 8% of your salary, 3% of which must be paid by your employer. However, many employers are more generous.

If you’re self-employed and don’t have a workplace pension, ideally, you should save 12.5% of your monthly income.

Remember, you will receive tax relief on your pension contributions depending on whether you’re an additional, higher or basic-rate tax payer. but you can only put in a maximum of £40,000 contribution per year.

What happens to my pension if I die before I claim it?

Pensions are considered to sit outside your estate. That means when you die, your beneficiaries can usually access your retirement savings without having to pay inheritance tax.

Most workplace and private pension schemes provide death benefits and, in the event that you pass away, your beneficiaries should contact your pension scheme administrator for more information.

Not just a pension - other sources of income

Income in retirement can come from multiple sources – it doesn’t all need to be saved into a pension. Cash savings, shares, ISAs, and property could all be important components of your overall retirement plan.

An ISA, for instance, is a tax-efficient way of funding your retirement because you don’t pay any income tax on withdrawal. And a property rental portfolio or holiday let is a great way to hold onto your capital assets while still earning an income well into your retirement.

There have been significant changes to pension savings in the Spring Budget 2023 that may impact your retirement planning. To find out more, see: How does the 2023 Budget affect your pension and retirement planning?

Amber River Life Landscaping®

You may feel that your retirement is a long way off, and you have more pressing financial commitments to deal with right now. But the sooner you start making pension contributions, the better.

An Amber River independent financial planner can help you put together a tax-efficient retirement plan with the right mix of assets, savings, and investments, giving you peace of mind that your retirement plans are secure.

Get in touch

To speak to one of our team, arrange an appointment or find out more, call 0800 915 0000, or alternatively use our contact form here.