Don't forget the old pension

26 April 2010

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