Retirement can seem like a long way off, until you realise that it’s not that far away. With this realisation there often comes fear, regret and panic about a lack of planning or saving strategy.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” but when everyday expenses, mortgage, family and household costs are the priority, it is difficult for most of us to think about next month let alone plan for our retirements. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help you make small changes, that could add up to quite a lot, by the time you retire.
1. The first step is to establish clear goals.
There’s a saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” To save enough, we must define how much is “enough”. We all need a benchmark to aim for, whether that’s the income you are on now, or less.
The biggest event most people save for is retirement. Everyone’s number is different, but the range of how much you need can vary. A survey by Which? shows that current retirees spent around £2,200 per month which adds up to £39,000 a year. This covers all the basic areas of expenditure and some luxuries, such as European holidays, hobbies and eating out.
This isn’t necessarily the right amount for everyone, it’s important to consider what your own priorities are.
To help you identify this, you’ll need to work out where you stand today so you can be realistic in your approach. We’d suggest logging in to Pension Wizard so you can see how much you have saved in to your current workplace pension. If you have the values of any previous pensions from other jobs you can add these in on-screen to see the total amount you have saved. Pension Wizard will then show you how much you’re on track for and give you some options on when you could retire and with how much.
Now you know how much you have and how much you need…
2. Next up, is to build momentum with mini-steps.
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”. This very much remains the case when it comes to your finances. We can’t expect to see changes if we follow the same path each month when it comes to our earnings. To breakout of your routine, focus on building positive momentum from wherever you are right now.
Mini-steps can help to achieve big goals, especially when it comes to your pension as you save over a much longer period of time. Rather than focusing on that huge number you need at retirement, which is daunting for many of us, focus on saving just 1% more than you currently are. Thanks to the power of compounding, that small amount can turn into a meaningful figure once retirement rolls around.
3. Consider the power of automation.
One of our top tips to save more, whether it be in to your pension or not, is to treat your savings like it’s another monthly subscription. If you pay £9.99 monthly for on-line streaming sites, space to save you photos/documents or any other subscription, you’re accustomed to connecting that expense to your account and letting the withdrawal happen without any thought.
Likewise, your pension is automatically taken from your pay each month. If you’ve checked your budget and you think you can afford that extra £5, £10, £20 a month, you’ll soon forget about it going out each month and consider it just another subscription.
4.Consider putting aside some of your next pay-rise.
Many of us have a tough time saving more of our current income each month because of a behavioral bias called ‘loss aversion’. We feel like we’re giving something up. However, we do not feel the same sense of loss when we commit future wage increases or windfalls to savings.
If you’re due a pay rise, this is the time in the cycle where you may be able to play catch-up if you feel behind in your long-term saving goals.
5. You’ve most likely heard this one before but buying lunch out is an expensive habit.
Considering taking a packed lunch or left-overs, just a few days each week, could save you a substantial amount in the long run.
Abstaining from a daily lunch outing everyday can save you around £20-£30 a week. So, if you could sacrifice this added-cost just two days out of the five each week, this could give you the extra £20-£30 to put in to your pension each month. This could add up to £1000’s over the years.
6. Yes, we know you’ve been told this one before too, but coffee is another daily expense that can be trimmed.
But you don’t have to give it up. Bringing your own reusable cup will help save the planet and save you money. Some retailers offer a generous discount, most chains offer somewhere between 20p-50p off.
Another option, which we personally love is a “coffee arbitrage”. The cost of an espresso is usually much cheaper than a black Americano — yet all that is added is hot water. You could pick up an espresso in the work canteen and add your own hot water in the office. This could save you 50p-£1 which all adds up if your coffee habit is a daily occurrence.
7. TV and film streaming sites can save you money each month, but they too can rack up your monthly subscriptions spend too.
On one hand, they can alleviate the need for expensive services that can add up to £400-£600 a year, one of the most popular tv and film streaming sites can cost as little as £5.99 a month (which is just £71 a year). We’d suggest checking out whether the switch will pay off for you. An extra £500 a year between now and retirement could really add up.
On the other hand, if like us you like to pay for access to a few tv and film streaming sites (because there’s just too many good options out there) they can really stack up each month. If you pay for 2-3 of these, for example, you could be spending over £30 a month. Our suggestion would be to take a look at which streaming service you spend the most time using and reevaluate which of them you really need. You could save yourself £120 a year by dropping just one of these services.
Finally, for those music fans who share a house (whether family, partner or friends) it’s also worth having a look at whether your provider offers family plans. With some services you can get up to five people at the same address on one reduced price so it’s well worth considering.
8. Finally, to get started simply find out how much you’ve saved so far.
So now we’ve given you some options to help you save a bit more in to your pension, we hope there’s at least one that works for you. Even if you make changes using just one of these tips it could make a real difference to the amount you have when you retire.
The most important thing is that you are paying in to your pension each month. How much you save is also extremely important so if you can increase this, even by a percentage or two, you’re going to be in a better position when you come to retire.
We believe everyone has the right to a financially secure future so whether you’ve got 3 or 30 years to retirement, small steps and changes can really make a difference.