Who knew this time of year could be so expensive? According to new research, having a well-earned summer holiday is a costly way to unwind. For a UK family of four, two-weeks away in the sun now costs an average of £4,792 (and that’s not even including the £227 per person, per week that is consumed as that all important spending money).
It’s little wonder then, that to offset this potentially crippling amount of money, the great British public have become some of the savviest holiday planners. Cost-conscious holidaymakers now use every trick in the book to make sure their break doesn’t break them financially. Costly foreign exchange fees? (which can be as much as £45 each time) – not a problem. A whopping 75% of holidaymakers now save around £100 by exchanging their money early, or not waiting till they get to the airport. Meanwhile between 40-50% of people will now routinely search for three hours or more to make sure they’ve sought the best value flight and hotel deals. And some of these can be significant. Mid-week flights, flights split up rather than direct, late deals, and using Airbnb (there are now 4.5 million properties available globally), are just some of the lengths cost-conscious Briton go to to shave big chunks off their get-aways.
Those who put the most effort in, certainly get the most savings back. In a recent article by Business Insider, staying at an Airbnb was revealed to be upwards of 45% cheaper than vacationing in a three-star hotel in the same location. Earlier this year, foreign exchange firm, FairFX, also revealed that the combination of planning car hire ahead, choosing a smaller airport to fly from, flying at a less social hour, booking airport parking in advance, pre-paying for extra luggage, being flexible with dates and spotting good travel exchange rates could, in total, save up to £1,939. That’s a fair few sangrias and ice creams.
All of which begs one simple question. If Britons can devote all this attention to saving some pounds for their summer breaks on the immediate horizon, why can’t they invoke these same financial awareness skills to insure their pensions have a similarly sunny outlook? Because, rather worrying, a lot of the evidence appears to suggest they do not. According to the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent ‘Financial Lives’ survey, just 35% of people aged 45-54 say they’ve made plans to ensure they have a decent income in retirement, and one of the top reasons people don’t engage with their pension is around understanding projected incomes, fees, and the vast array of different options so-called ‘pension freedoms’ have opened up. Maybe it’s no coincidence that this month the Work and Pensions Committee announced it would be looking directly into this matter – specifically asking whether most people really do understand what their choices are, and how they calculate them. The committee has already said it believes misunderstandings are ‘leading to poor outcomes for pensioners.’
And yet here’s the rub. Given their penchant for holiday planning, perhaps the truth is more that people ‘think’ they don’t understand pensions, compound growth, accumulation and all the other associated ‘language’ used in this sector, when actually they really do, if they just stop for a moment to think about it.
If people are so evidently comfortable with their holiday-related financial planning – exchange rate conversions, money-off deals, percent reductions and the rest – it’s entirely likely they really can made head and tail of their pensions. They’re doing themselves an injustice by saying they cannot. And, with online technology that actually makes this easier – giving people calculator-style tools so people can visually see how adding a bit more money in now can turn into a hefty extra income in 30 years time, the requirement to be an actuary is actually eliminated altogether.
Best of all, because simulation tools will – with just a few clicks – show how retirement income can be met, or even exceeded by changing just a few elements of their pension contributions, people can start to play around. Say… with all that money they’ve now got in their back pocket from not paying over the odds for their summer holiday. The money they might have wasted going abroad has got to go somewhere, so why not model how some of it, or all of it, can work just as hard as building that summer tan, to really boost a pension pot?
 Data by Transferwise Aug 2018
 Research by EasyFX, published February 2018
 Statistics in Forbes 2018