From April next year, savers will be allowed to do as they wish with their nest egg when they retire. Many anticipate retirees will plough their cash into buy-to-let investments to fund life after work.
Others say they will stick with annuities and income drawdown – or even a combination of both.
But whatever you opt for, the challenge right now is to save as much as you can. Pensions, after all, are a hugely tax-efficient way of saving – essentially, you are getting free money. If you are a lower-rate taxpayer, for every £80 you save the government will top this up to £100; and if you are a higher-rate taxpayer, you need to put away just £60 to get the same amount.
Recent figures, however, from the Department for Work & Pensions revealed almost 12 million of us are still not saving enough, so whether you are retiring in the next year or have 20 years to go, we look at what you need to do now to ensure a prosperous retirement.
Saving in your 40s
By the time you reach 40, this message should have sunk in. Given your 40s are likely to be the most financially rewarding time of your career, ensure that not only are you saving in a pension but also an Isa, where you can now squirrel away up to £15,000 every tax year and all gains and interest are free from the clutches of the taxman.
But it is also hugely important to tackle any burdensome debts. Putting all your efforts into saving is counter-productive if you are paying massive rates of interest on hefty credit card debts or personal loans.
While 40 is late in the day to start saving for retirement, it is, however, not too late – you will just have to save that bit harder. For example, an individual earning £60,000 a year looking to have an income of £15,000 in retirement but who does not start saving until they reach 40 would need to save around £590 a month to hit their target. In contrast, a 30-year old, earning £40,000 a year would need to save almost £200 less a month to achieve the same goal.
John Lawson, head of policy at insurer Aviva, says: "It is never too late to start saving. Whatever you can afford to put away will come in useful. Try to make the most of your discretionary expenditure by putting some money away for your future, as well as living for today."
Look at using any annual bonus payments to top up your pension and Isa savings and speak to your employer about salary sacrifice. This is a way of boosting your pension contributions while both you and your employer pay less National Insurance. You simply give up some of your future gross salary and in return your employer will pay this amount into your pension.
For example, if someone with an annual salary of £40,000 sacrificed £2,000 of their gross pay in return for their employer paying an extra £2,000 in pension contributions, the value of their total take-home package, after tax, National Insurance and pension contributions, goes from £28,555 to £28,795 – a £240 rise. However, check if this is right for you, as there can be other tax implications depending on your circumstances.
Investing in your 40s
When you hit your 40s, you should have hopefully been growing your pension for some 20 years already. But further growth and getting your cash working as hard as possible, should remain your primary objectives. There- fore you can still be fairly punchy with your investment choices. Patrick Connolly, a certified financial planner at financial adviser group Chase de Vere, highlights the HSBC FTSE All Share Index fund. He says: "This fund aims to track the performance of the FTSE All Share Index and has an annual charge of only around 0.18%."
Gavin Haynes, managing director at Whitechurch Securities, tips Templeton Growth as another fund worthy of attention. "It is a global equity fund I like, which looks for undervalued opportunities across international stockmarkets," he says.
"I've taken an active interest in my pension and pay more into it"
Claire Cole, 45, has been saving towards her retirement for almost 30 years, having started putting cash into a pension at the age of 17. The supply chain manager from Portsmouth, who also saves regularly into her Isa, is hoping to retire at 55 with an annual income of around 40% of her salary.
Claire admits she is very fortunate in that she has one long-term final salary scheme from a previous job. She says: "When I was younger, as long as I knew I had a pension in place, I never thought about the long-term requirements and what I would need from my pension.
"However, as I get closer to retirement I have taken a more active interest in my pension funds and have increased my monthly contributions."
Find out everything you need to know about the new pension rules and how to plan ahead for the retirement you deserve with our new magazine, How to Retire in Style. The magazine is available to buy now from all leading newsagents, or can be ordered online at moneywise.co.uk/retire