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Pension savings timeline

Whether you're just starting your first job, mid-way through your working life, approaching retirement or retired, this timeline will help you understand the benefits of long-term pension saving and of actively managing your money to ensure you have enough to live on for life.

Starting Out

Pensions offer a way to save tax-free and get tax back to help build up a pot of money for you to live off later in life. The sooner you start a pension the more tax you'll save and get back and the bigger your pension pot when you finally stop work.

Starting a pension

If your employer offers a workplace pension this is the easiest way to start. If they don't or you’re self-employed, you can start a personal pension.

Find out more about workplace and personal pensions

Deciding how much to save

For every £80 you pay into a pension the government tops it up with £20 basic rate tax relief (within limits) and higher rate taxpayers can claim back the extra - so it pays to save more.

Use our workplace pensions calculator to see how much you can afford to save

Throughout working life

Pensions invest in stocks and shares so be sure to check regularly how your pot is performing and get advice if concerned. As your salary increases it normally makes sense to save more into your pension, provided you have sufficient money to live on and any debts are under control.

Monitoring your pension investments

Don't forget about your pension pots - make a diary note to periodically check whether they’re on track to meet your needs and take action if they’re not.

Find out how to check the progress of your pension savings

Saving more into your pension

You can get tax relief on pensions savings of up to £40,000 each year so it's worth topping up when you can afford it - and the sooner you top up the faster your pension pot will grow.

Use our pension calculator to see how much retirement income different contribution amounts might generate

Managing your debt

It's fine to have pensions and other savings as well as debt but it's important to stay in control and know what to prioritise if money becomes tight.

Check which debts you should pay off first and why

Managing your money

You'll of course have lots of other commitments during your working life - find out how to budget and make your money go further while keeping pension saving in the mix.

Read a beginner's guide to budgeting and managing money

Getting guidance and advice

Major life changes like moving home, getting divorced or losing your job will impact your finances -- if you're worried take advantage of the free advice that’s out there or speak to a financial adviser.

Find out where to get free help and information

Understand the different types of financial adviser and how to find one

Thinking about retirement - 10 years out

Retirement may seem a long way off, but now's the time to to check whether your pension pots look set to provide the income you want and understand your options for accessing them. It's also a good time to review your debts, make a will if you don't have one - and to get advice if you need it.

Reviewing your pension investments

It's important to check whether your pensions investments are on track to give you the income you want - if there's a shortfall you need to look at ways of boosting your savings.

Find out how to check the progress of your pension savings

Understanding your retirement income options

To help you plan ahead, read up on your options for taking your pension in advance and how they may affect your tax and any state benefits.

Read an overview of your options for taking your pension and download an at-a-glance sheet

Reviewing your debts

Now's also a good time to take stock of your debts to make sure they'll be paid off by the time you plan to retire.

Find out about which loans or debts to prioritise and get tips for paying them off faster

Making a will

If you've not made a will yet you should do so now - to make sure your money, other assets and any unused pension pots are passed on according to your wishes.

Find out why you should make a will and how to go about it

Getting free guidance

You can get free, impartial guidance from the government's Pension Wise service about the options for using your pension pot and the effect on tax and benefits.

Find out about Pension Wise and how to book a telephone or face-to-face appointment

Getting financial advice

A financial adviser will make recommendations for how you might adjust your current pension savings to maximise growth, based on your personal circumstances and attitude to risk.

Find out more and search for a financial adviser

Thinking about retirement - 5 years out

This is the time to gather all of your pension paperwork together, review all of your pension investments and make last-minute adjustments to help maximise your retirement income.

Getting a State Pension statement

A State Pension statement will show you how much you will get when you retire - you may be able to increase it by topping up your National Insurance contributions.

Get a State Pension statement and find out about topping up National Insurance contributions

Finding lost pension pots

If you think you may have lost track of a workplace pension, the pension tracing service will help you track it down.

Find out how to trace a lost pension - use our letter templates to save time

Reviewing your pension investments

Check retirement dates and values for each pension pot and whether you need to move your money into less risky funds - we recommend getting financial advice for this.

Use our Retirement Advisor Directory to search for a financial adviser

Estimating your retirement income

Work out your overall likely income, taking into account tax and benefits, then use our budget planner to make sure you'll have enough to live on.

Use our 6 step plan to estimate your overall income after you retire, including the effect on tax and benefits

Getting free guidance

You can get free, impartial guidance from the government's Pension Wise service about the options for using your pension pot and the effect on tax and benefits.

Find out about Pension Wise and how to book a telephone or face-to-face appointment

Getting financial advice

A financial adviser will make recommendations for how you might adjust your current pension savings to maximise growth, based on your personal circumstances and attitude to risk.

Find out more and search for a financial adviser

Moving into retirement

Whether retiring fully or gradually, you need to draw up a retirement income plan in the months beforehand to ensure you'll have enough to live on. Use this to get guidance or financial advice on which options for using your pension pot may be suitable.

Getting retirement income quotes

Get quotes from your pension provider(s) and ask if you have a guaranteed annuity rate -- if you do it will be hard to beat. Get a State Pension statement if you've not done so yet.

Get a State Pension statement

Making sure you'll have enough to live on

Check that your pension and other income will provide the right mix of security and flexibility to meet your and any dependant's long-term needs - if it won’t you may need to retire later.

Use our retirement income options tool to understand your income options and help draw up a retirement income plan

Understanding what tax you'll pay

The first 25% of your pension pot is tax-free and you pay Income Tax on the rest and on your State Pension - remember to factor this in when budgeting for retirement.

Find out more about Income Tax in retirement

Checking your benefits

The age-related benefits you're entitled to in retirement will sometimes depend on your income - and may affect how you choose to use your pension pot.

Find out what benefits you can get in retirement

Creating a retirement budget

Once you have a clear idea of your likely retirement income use our budget planner to make sure you'll have enough to live on.

Create a retirement budget plan online or on paper

Getting free guidance

If you've not done so yet take advantage of free, impartial guidance from the government's Pension Wise service.

Find out about telephone and face-to-face guidance from Pension Wise

Shopping around for annuities

If you're considering an annuity, you’re more likely to get better deal by shopping around -- you could try this yourself, but get financial advice before committing to anything.

Follow our 4-step plan for shopping around for an annuity - then get advice

Getting financial advice

Unless you are certain about which retirement income option is best for you, get financial advice -your choices will affect your income for the rest of your life and may be irreversible.

Use our Retirement Advisor Directory to search for a specialist

Managing money in retirement

It's likely you'll have less to live on when you retire so it's important to keep your income sources under review and find ways to make your money go further. You also need to plan for the unexpected should your or your partner's health change later in life.

Managing your money day to day

It's likely that your income will fall and your spending patterns change in retirement - but there's lots you can do to plan for this and help your money go further.

Get tips for making your money go further money in retirement

Reviewing your pension investments

Retirement can last over 30 years so be sure to check annually that any remaining pension pot or drawdown funds are on track to meet your long-term needs - a financial adviser can help you do this.

Create an annual diary alert now, then search for a financial adviser

Planning for long-term healthcare needs

As you grow older you need to think about how you would cope financially if you or your partner needed long-term care - understanding who pays for what will help you plan.

Find out about costs and funding for long-term care and financial support for carers

Appointing a power of attorney

As you grow older it's wise to put in place measures to allow someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become unable to do so yourself - this is called granting power or attorney.

Find out about types of power of attorney and how to set one up

Reviewing your will

By the time you retire a lot will have changed - now's the time to check whether your will still reflects how you’d like to pass on your money and other assets when you die.

Find out how to change your will

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