We don’t support this browser anymore.
This means our website may not look and work as you would expect. Read more about browsers and how to update them here.

  • A A A
  • How much do I need to retire?

    We take a look at three national income targets which could help you decide how much money you need to retire.

    Most people strive to live comfortably in retirement. But how much you’ll need to live on, and need to save for the future, can be hard to pin down.

    Industry research suggests that 77% of savers don’t know how much income they’ll actually need when it comes to their retirement. And only 20% are confident they are saving enough.

    To help simplify saving for retirement, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) proposed retirement living standards. These have been designed to help people picture what lifestyle they want in the future, and how much income they’ll need to achieve that lifestyle.

    We hope you find this article helpful but it’s not personal advice. You can’t normally access money in a pension until age 55 (57 from 2028). Pension and tax rules can change and any benefits depend on your circumstances. If you’re not sure what’s right for your situation, please ask for advice.

    What are the standards?

    The PLSA has proposed three living standards: minimum, moderate and comfortable. For a single person to reach a minimum standard of living they would need a yearly income of about £13,000 a year. A couple would need about £20,000. This amount would allow for some social occasions but means you wouldn’t be able to afford a holiday abroad or the cost of running a car.

    To reach a moderate lifestyle a single person would need an annual income of £23,300 and a couple would need £34,000. This standard will allow you to spend more money on any nice-to-haves. You could be able to afford a two-week holiday in Europe every year, and run a car.

    At the comfortable living standard (£37,300 a year for a single person and £54,500 for a couple) you’d be able to enjoy more financial freedom and some luxuries. This includes taking an extended trip abroad, running a newer car that can be replaced more regularly and spending more on weekly food shops and personal items like clothing.

    Single person yearly income* Minimum £12,800 Moderate £23,300 Comfortable £37,300
    House work DIY and decorating one room every year Some help with maintenance and decorating each year Replace kitchen and bathroom every 10/15 years
    Food shop £54 each week £74 each week £144 each week
    Transport No car 3 year old car replaced every 10 years 2 year old car replaced every 5 years
    Holidays 1 week and a long weekend away in UK every year 2 weeks in Europe and a long weekend in the UK every year 3 weeks in Europe every year
    Clothing & footwear Up to £580 every year Up to £791 every year Up to £1,500 every year
    Birthdays £20 for each birthday present £34 for each birthday present £56 for each birthday present

    Source: PLSA, 2022. *These figures could fund this lifestyle for people living outside London.

    The figures provide a rule of thumb and everyone’s financial circumstances are different. You may need to add other costs depending on your circumstances such as mortgage, rent, social care costs and income tax.

    Most people dream of a comfortable living standard when they finish work, but are savers putting away enough money to reach this?

    How much to save for retirement

    51% of savers believe the minimum auto enrolment amount (8% of qualifying earnings, including an employer contribution of at least 3%) is enough to save for retirement. Unfortunately, this might not to be the case.

    In reality, if an 18 year old started their working life today earning £18,000, 8% of their salary went into their pension and they were entitled to the full State Pension amount, they could end up with an annual retirement income of £24,800. This falls short of the comfortable standard for single retirees by £12,500.

    But what if you’re not just starting out? In order to reach the comfortable standard, a 36 year old today who is a higher earner (£52,500 per year), and has already built up a decent pension pot of £36,000, would still need to pay a total of 13% of their salary into their pension (including employer contributions) each year starting today, plus be entitled to the full state pension.

    These examples don’t assume career progression or time out of work. Both of which could influence the amount you’re able to save into a pension.The calculations assume no tax-free cash is taken, regular contributions increase by 3% a year, annual investment growth of 5%, charges at 1.5% and a retirement age of 68. Figures take account of inflation (assumed to be 2%) and show the buying power of the pension in today’s money. Pension and tax rules can change in future. Figures are an illustration and actual income will depend on individual circumstances. The living standards were created to help you think realistically about what you’ll need or want to spend your money on.

    Calculating your retirement income

    To help you understand if your pension is on track to give you the retirement income you want, our pension calculator will show you what your pension could pay each year.

    If you’re not on track, you could consider increasing your pension contributions or delaying your retirement. Don’t forget once you pay money into your pension, you can’t usually take it out again until you’re at least 55 (57 from 2028).

    Do remember to take stock of how much you’ve saved not only in your personal or workplace pensions but also consider any other cash or investments you have. You should be able to access your most recent statements online, or by contacting your bank and pension or investment providers.

    More on paying into a pension

    What help is available?

    If you have any questions our Helpdesk is always happy to help and is available six days a week on 0117 980 9926. Monday-Friday 8am-5pm and Saturday 9:30am-12:30pm.

    What you do with your pension is an important decision. We strongly recommend you understand all your options and check that the option you choose is right for your circumstances. Take advice or seek guidance if you’re unsure. The government provides a free and impartial service to help you understand your retirement options - more on Pension Wise.

    This article isn’t personal advice. We offer a range of information and support to help you plan your own finances. We also have an advisory service that can help you achieve your goals.

    What did you think of this article?

    Related articles

    Why consolidating at retirement is important

    One of the most crucial times to consolidate your investments and pensions is as you approach retirement. Discover why, plus find out about our latest transfer offers.

    Isabel McDougall

    3m read

    Are you taking enough risk?

    Deciding how much risk to take when investing in retirement can be tricky. We look at how you can decide what level of risk is right for you.

    Alexandra Mears-Jennings

    6m read

    Have you taken more tax-free cash than you needed?

    Learn how to calculate the right amount of tax-free cash for you, and what you could do if you’ve taken too much.

    Guy James

    6m read

    How to generate an income from your investments in retirement

    Discover strategies for taking an income in retirement, and what to do when it’s not enough.

    Isabel McDougall

    3m read