Not having a pension is a lot more common than you may think, so much so, that one in five women are currently retiring with no pension.
But not preparing for old age is dangerous game and could lead to poverty when you stop working.
Women with no pension provision often expect to rely on the state, but with the state pension at just £122.30 a week (that’s if you have the full national insurance contributions), will that be enough?
Mums are one of the biggest groups to miss out on a pension, with many sacrificing saving for old age to help manage the household income and tackle crippling childcare costs.
OK, so you don’t have a pension. What next?
If you don’t have a pension, the first question to ask yourself is why not? Do you think you’re too young? Can’t ‘afford’ it? Expect the state to support you? Rely on property income? Or just don’t know?
First, let’s explore the ‘I’m too young’ scenario. It’s a common answer for those under age 50 , but they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s important to start saving as young as possible, in your twenties ideally, to get a decent pension income when you retire.
But, it’s never too late to start one. If you are working, snap up your workplace pension, because when you pay into it, so does your employer, so by saying no you are saying no to free money. New laws mean all employers must provide a workplace pension, so ask your employer about it.
If you’re self-employed, you can join the government’s Nest arrangement or set up your own personal pension arrangement – you will benefit from tax relief by paying into a pension.
There are a number of providers you can look in to, but always ask about fees, as some may charge high annual management charges, which would then ultimately reduce your income.
If you don’t have regular income then put away something into a pension whenever you can.
You have no income?
Full time stay-at-homes mums are at the highest risk when it comes to poverty in old age, but they still need to retire so should be thinking about a pension.
If your partner is working, you could ask your them to contribute into a pension for you – it’s only fair if you are at home looking after the children. After all, if you had a nanny, you would be required to pay her a pension.
Maximise your state pension
As long as you are registered for child benefit, then you will get national insurance credits, even if you are not working. You need 35 years’ national insurance credits to qualify for a full state pensions and if you have less then 10 years then you will not get any. So, it’s vital you register for child benefit to ensure you do not miss out on these vital credits.
Even if you are not entitled to keep the full child benefit amount, which are dependent on household earnings, you should register for it.
You’ve got property
It’s great if you have property, but you shouldn’t solely rely on it for retirement income. First, by not having a pension, you are missing out on all the tax benefits and free money if you are employed.
Properties need to be maintained and cost money.
Property prices fluctuate, so there could come a time when you are in negative equity and you may not face the fruitful retirement you expected from it.
It’s always a good idea not to have all your eggs in one basket, and property should not be regarded as a pension.
The Lifetime ISA
In April this year, the government launched the Lifetime ISA – which allows anyone under age 40 to stash away up to £4,000 into savings to use for either a pension or to buy your first home.
The government will give you a 25% bonus every tax year for whatever you put in – so, if you have £1,000 you’ll get £1,125. If you save the maximum £4,000 in any tax year, you will end up with £5,000. But, the bonus is only available if used for its intended requirement – buying a house or retirement.
Get financial advice
Pensions can be complicated products, so you may want to get financial advice if you are unsure how to move forward, particularly if you are looking into your own personal pension provision. Financial ‘advice’ should only ever be given by a qualified IFA.
You can find a financial advisor at Unbiased – which lists local advisers. An adviser may charge a fee, but a carefully planned financial future could leave you better off in years to come.
Kalpana Fitzpatrick is a financial journalist and the founder of MummyMoneyMatters.com.
You can follow her on twitter @KalpanaFitz and @MumMoneyMatters.
You can also keep up-to-date with money matters for you and your family on MMM’s Facebook page.