So, we have now established the importance of pensions and why we should be concerned about them now. But, what should we do now and how can we take control of our own pensions?
It’s important to note that this does not constitute personal advice and if you’re not sure whether an investment or savings account is right for you please seek professional financial advice.
Here are some top tips to get you started:
Since the introduction of autoenrollment, the UK has made it a bit easier for us.
Your employer must automatically enrol you, unless you personally opt out, into a pension scheme. This means both you and your employer must make contributions to your pension if: you’re classed as a ‘worker’; you’re 22 or over (and below state pension age): and you earn at least £10,000 per year.
The minimum your employer must contribute is 3 percent of your total salary, while you must contribute 5 percent. A simple way to save more into your pension is to opt to increase the amount you pay in – even an extra £10 a month will make a difference – but your employer does not have to match these increases.
Of course, you will also receive 20 percent tax relief for the government – increasing your contributions further.
Combine existing workplace pension schemes
When you change jobs, your pension still belongs to you. If you do nothing more with it, the money will remain invested and you’ll get a pension when you reach the scheme’s pension age. While this may sound good – your savings are protected after all, it can make keeping track of your pension tricky and even cost you money.
If your scheme allows, it can be a good idea to combine all your existing pensions into one scheme. This means you’ll benefit from increased interest on your main pot and will also be able to clearly see how much you have saved.
A lot of employers have started using the government-backed National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) for their pension schemes. If you move between company’s that both use this scheme, your pensions should automatically be combined.
If you really want to put more money aside, or if you’re self-employed and don’t have a workplace pension scheme, you may want to consider a private pension.
An easy way to start is to put money into a Lifetime ISA, which comes with the added benefit of a government bonus of 25 percent each year of your yearly savings up to £1,000.
Self-employed individuals can also join the NEST pension scheme, which can be a good option for those looking for a relatively straight forward way to put money aside each month.
There are also many other ways to save into a pension, including Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPS) and stakeholder pensions. We’ll look at these in more detail in a later article.