Don't forget the old pension

RuthEmery's picture

Although my finances are not exactly neat and tidy – I never budget, I open savings accounts on a whim and then promptly forget about them, and I have a weakness for overpriced Pret sandwiches – in among the mess is not one, but two pensions.

Unfortunately this has nothing to do with an innate sense of planning for the future, worries of how the state pension will support me in my old age or a sensible responsibility that belies my years. It’s actually all down to starting my journalism career at a pensions magazine (oi, no yawning at the back there) and the sheer dread of HR telling my new editor that I hadn’t signed up and the awful repercussions it might bring.

My father should also be credited with helping his daughter get saving for her nest egg nice and early. Confronted with a rather complicated booklet on my pension options I thrust it into his hands and was advised that since I was young I could be a bit ‘racy’ (his words, not mine) and pick some emerging markets funds.

I now have a defined contribution pension pot from my old employer and one at this job too. Through my work I have become vaguely familiar with the pensions industry and the problems that our nation faces.

It worries me that final salary schemes are few and far between and the apathy towards pensions among my friends means we won’t enjoy our retirements in the same fashion that many baby boomers are today.

What is the government doing about this miserable take-up of pensions? We are bombarded with television adverts about how to be greener and save energy or the importance of paying our TV licences. What about some communication around the importance of putting away a little bit of our pay packet each month (and how tax-efficient it can be, actually maybe don’t mention that dreaded T word) so we can avoid spending our golden years living in poverty?

Ruth Emery is deputy editor of Moneywise's sister publication Money Observer


Your Comments

I agree with you Ruth. Stakeholder Pensions were this government's failed attempt to make the masses save for their own retirement. It failed, because no matter how cheap and cheerful you make something, for people to buy it they have to want it.

NEST, which is the ridiculous name for the new national pension scheme coming in supposedly from 2012, is the next effort, but this is already falling apart and could possibly be derailed as only one company (Tata, an Indian steel firm) is left in the running to administer it and the costs are looking prohibitive.

People don't buy pensions because the benefits they promise are intangible and far-off. But they can make all the difference. Everyone I come into contact with who is reasonably wealthy has at least one pension which forms the backbone of their retirement income. And not all of them are defined benefit.

It's worth reading The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach for a compelling explanation of the difference pension saving can make to your future.