People often say that the older they become the more time seems to speed up. In the same way, those heading towards retirement can find that the date is rapidly approaching, and insufficient planning has been made to get the best out of this period of life. The good news is, there are things you can do if you are in this situation, but you need to act now. You need to explore your options, understand what you can do to make a positive impact to your financial situation, and focus on what you can control.
The prospect of retirement should be exciting. For people considering retirement within the next five years, it's the perfect time to make sure things are in order. Here are five key areas that anyone approaching retirement should consider:
- Locate your paperwork
Having all your paperwork to hand can make planning for the future much easier. Government figures show that the average person could end up with 11 different pensions over a working life. These are likely to be a combination of company final salary schemes and the more common defined contribution or personal pension schemes. Knowing what schemes you have and their value is imperative for succinct retirement planning and beyond. The government has proposed a Pension Dashboard, which will allow people to see all their pensions in one place – however that is unlikely to be available until 2019 at the earliest. Until then, we will all need to have our paperwork to hand.
Likewise, having your paperwork to hand for all your investments, including direct shares, collective investments and premium bonds for example will also be advantageous, as it is not uncommon for people to have had to wade through years’ worth of documents in order to know their current position. Gathering all the information in one place for review is the first step in retirement planning.
- Consider your health
With old age almost inevitably, ailments will emerge. Knowing your financial position five years ahead of retirement means that, should you need to retire earlier for health reasons, you will be better able to evaluate your financial position.
With that knowledge to hand, you may even find that with proper financial planning, you can retire earlier than you thought you could and that it is maybe beneficial to do so from a tax perspective.
- Sort out your pensions
As well as having more than one pension which may need to be sorted, where applicable it may be sensible to consolidate them into one, more manageable, pension vehicle, particularly if the pensions currently held do not allow for the flexibility of the Pension Freedoms. Also, some schemes (for example, the NHS scheme) allow additional payments to be made which can boost your pension for the years ahead, but needs to be considered in the context of the reduced lifetime allowance.
Find out what your state pension will be. This is a flat rate from April 2016 for men born after 6 April 1951 and women after 6 April 1953. You can find out more from the Future Pension Centre or by filling in form BR19. Anyone over 50 should receive a statement calculated according to the new state pension rules.
- Mortgage and other debts
As income tends to drop in retirement, it can make sense to plan to have paid off your mortgage and any other debts by the time you retire. If that is not possible, then look at ways to keep your monthly outgoings consistent, such as changing to a fixed rate mortgage.
- Examine your insurance cover
Are you paying for life cover you don’t need? Often people take out life cover to ensure the mortgage will be paid in the event of their death or to help provide an income for their dependents. Often this is for a fixed sum at a fixed premium. But if the mortgage has been paid off or your dependents have flown the nest and you’re in good health, could you reduce the cover to better suit your current situation and reduce your outgoings at the same time?
Lowes is here to help you with your financial planning both on the approach of, and during your retirement. This is more important than ever, since the Pension Freedoms have increased the flexibility that people have in the way they structure their retirement income streams.