Five tips to avoid retirement regret
We explore how to make your retirement plans come true, so you don’t have regrets later in life.
Last Updated: 1 January 2003
Our research shows that more than half of us have regrets about our retirement planning. These include not starting the planning process sooner, not paying in enough and not being aware of all the retirement options out there.
And before you think, “Well, retirement still feels quite distant”. It’s worth remembering that you could think of retirement as the longest holiday of your life, and your future self will thank you for giving your pension some attention now.
You can always make a meaningful impact on your pension, regardless of when you start. Don't let the fear of the unknown hinder your ability to establish a solid plan.
In this article we explore ways to avoid retirement regret, but this isn't personal advice. If you're unsure whether a course of action is right for you, it's the best to seek out a qualified financial adviser.
Here are five tips to avoid retirement regret
- Make the most of your employer contribution
If you are automatically enrolled in a workplace pension scheme you will get an employer contribution. Some employers contribute at the minimum amount; however, others will contribute more.
Some offer to contribute more if you do the same – known as an employer matching. If you can, taking advantage of this can really boost what goes into your pension.
Just remember, a pension is meant for your retirement, so you can’t normally access your money until you’re 55 (57 from 2028).
- Increase your contribution when you can
Times are tough right now and stretched budgets can mean it’s impossible to increase your pension contribution. But it’s worth revisiting this decision at key points in your life. Got a pay rise or a new job? Think about if you can afford to contribute extra, even small amounts can make a big difference.
Please note contributions are limited by your earnings and the pension annual allowance. How much you can pay in depends on your personal circumstances.
- Keep track of your pension
As we change jobs throughout our working lives there’s a chance you could lose track of the pensions you’ve built up with previous employers. This can mean over time you are missing out on thousands of pounds that could contribute to your retirement income. If you think you’ve lost a pension, the Government’s Pension Tracing Service could help. You will need to give them the name of either your employer or pension provider and they will give you contact details.
- Check your State Pension
The State Pension is the backbone of most people’s retirement income and what you get is based on your National Insurance record. However, many people have gaps in their record due to time spent abroad, on a low income or out of the workforce which means they don’t get as much State Pension as they could.
It’s important to get a State Pension forecast that will tell you if you have any gaps and if you’re eligible to fill them. If you qualified for a benefit that comes with an NI credit such as Child Benefit or Universal Credit during one of these gaps, then you may be able to put in a backdated claim and receive the credit.
You may also be able to pay for voluntary NI credits. It’s important to check with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) before handing over any money though as they can confirm whether you will be better off by making these payments.
- What do you want retirement to look like?
Having an idea of what you want your retirement to look like can give you a better idea of how much you need to save to get there. You should check in periodically to assess your progress against your goals, but this should give you time to make any necessary changes.
Join the Financially Fearless mailing list
Please correct the following errors before you continue:
Hargreaves Lansdown PLC group companies will usually send you further information by post and/or email about our products and services. If you would prefer not to receive this, please do let us know. We will not sell or trade your personal data.