Planning for your retirement

You don't have to wait until you're near retirement to begin planning for it. The sooner you begin making arrangements, the smoother the whole process will be. The following information and resources can help guide you.

When can I retire?

Your state pension age depends on your situation. It is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it is fair based on what people can afford and how long people are living:

People are strongly recommended to invest in an additional private or workplace pension scheme to supplement the state pension, which may not be sufficient if it is your sole source of income after retirement. Read more about workplace and private pensions here:

Teacher's Pension Scheme

In order to claim on the Teacher's Pension Scheme, you must have completed two years of service after 5 April 1988 or five years' service at any time. The earliest Teacher's Pension Scheme can be paid at age 55 (unless you're granted ill-health benefits). Again, this age is subject to change in line with the State Pension Age. Find out more about the Teacher's Pension Scheme.

Arranging your finances

Pensions

It is important to consider what to do with your pension when you are able to claim, as there are a number of options. The best one for you may depend on your personal circumstances, so consider your lifestyle, family needs and retirement plans. You should seek advice when considering what to do with your pension pot. The following organisations may be able to advise you.

Pension Wise: a government website offering free advice with a pension specialist.

Pensions Advisory Service: offers free and impartial advice for those with workplace and personal pensions.
Tel: 0300 123 1047

Money Advice Service: has an independent adviser directory where you can locate an adviser.

Pension Tracing Service: a free service that can help you find a pension you've lost track of, even if you don't have the contact details of the employer.
Tel: 0345 6002 537

Managing money

A common concern when thinking about retirement is whether you will have enough money to live comfortably. There are a number of ways you can reduce this worry. The best is forward thinking and planning.

There are a number of ways you can make your money go further. Firstly, you may be entitled to financial support from the government through benefits, and it costs nothing to check.

Utility bills

Age UK has pages on reducing water and energy bills, which is a great way to cut your costs easily each month:

If you need assistance with heating bills during the winter, several different government schemes are available, depending on your circumstances:

Life after retirement: work or play?

As of 1 October 2011, the default retirement age (DRA) has ended. Therefore, employees can no longer force retirement notices on their employees. This means you have the choice whether you want to retire or continue your employment.

Flexible working

If you continue to work, you may want to consider flexible working. People consider flexible working for a number of reasons – including health issues or wanting to travel or spend more time with family – none of which are exclusive to retirement. Flexible working may mean varying your start and end times day to day, working your full hours over fewer days, working part-time, or working from home some or all days. What your employer can offer varies for everyone depending on the organisation and the job role.

If you have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks (and are not an agency worker), then you have the right to request flexible working. You can do so once within a 12-month period. For more information, including how to apply, visit the GovUK website.

Learn, travel and do

Not everyone wishes to continue working. After a lifetime of hard work, you deserve some down time. However, there are plenty of options to keep you physically and mentally stimulated. Retirement can be your chance to learn new things, travel to new places and do new things:

  • Learn. It is never too late to learn something new. Is there a subject or course you have wanted to study but have never had the time? You can search for courses in your local area on the National Careers Service website. You may even wish to study at university. The UCAS website has a page with handy information for mature students. Finally, University of the Third Age (U3A) is a nationwide network of learning groups encouraging older people to come together and share their knowledge and experience without the pressure of exams and coursework. For more information and to find your local group, visit University of the Third Age website.
  • Travel. Should your finances allow it, you may also wish to retire or travel abroad. This can be an extremely valuable and rewarding experience. Note that you are eligible to receive your pension even if you live abroad. There are lots of other things to consider if you plan to live abroad, however, such as whether you are comfortable being further from your family and friends, if you need to learn a new language, and what to know if you're planning to buy and sell properties. Take your time to think about and discuss all aspects of the decision with those close to you. For more information, visit the GovUK website on moving or retiring abroad.
  • Do. The world is your oyster, and with more free time you can finally do things you have always wanted to do but never had time for. This can be anything from crafts to sports, and numerous activities and experiences. It can be something adventurous like an epic hike, or something close to home like finally starting your own vegetable garden. It's time to take out that bucket list (or start one!), and tick off those items you have always wanted to experience.

Your health and wellbeing

When planning for retirement, there is lots to think about in terms of the practicalities, but you must also consider your emotional and physical health. Your planning should revolve around what you are physically able to do and what your emotional needs are as much as it does your finances. Remember to keep both your body and mind healthy.

Healthy body

Your metabolism slows down as you get older, and therefore it is important to keep active. You may have always been active, or it may require a bit more of a conscious effort to get started. There are countless options, depending on your physical fitness level, where you live and what your interests are. Here are some ideas:

  • Join a local sports club.
  • Take dance classes.
  • Sign up for classes at your local gym. It may have classes such as yoga, martial arts or aquatic aerobic classes.
  • Go for walks, jogs or bike rides. Start or join a neighbourhood group if you'd like some company!
  • Swimming is a great way to stay in shape without adding strain to your bones and joints.
  • Do workout videos from your home.
  • Gardening can count as exercise.
  • Work with resistance bands, or try weightlifting.

Before starting a new activity you should always consult with your GP. The following pages provide additional health and fitness information:

Healthy mind

You must also be mindful of your emotional wellbeing. Later in life people can be overcome by loneliness or reduced self-confidence. All the activities mentioned previously, from studying at a university to joining a tennis club, will ensure you are still surrounded by like-minded people. Not only does social interaction keep you young at heart, it's great for keeping your brain active! A job would previously have kept you busy for a large portion of your time, so in retirement it's important to replace that with something new.

The final trick to a healthy mind is deceptively simple: Just smile! It may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your own mood and those around you. Time to get out there and start enjoying your new life journey.

Call the helpline

Our helpline is manned by highly trained and qualified counsellors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are available to help you, whether you are still working in education or have retired, with any aspect of your life with which you may be struggling. Find out more about our 24/7 confidential helpline or call on 08000 562561.

 

Kerwick-Chrisp, G. & Schuette, B. (Ed.) (2017, September). Planning for your retirement. London: Workplace Options.

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situatio