Taking control of your financial future is more than figuring out your retirement goals and making a savings plan, it’s also about arming yourself with knowledge that will enable you to grow your money – no matter what curveballs might come your way.
Whether you’re planning to settle down and start a family, or take the plunge to going freelance, there are lots of life choices you can make that will affect your pension pot. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go for what you want, but you should learn how they’ll impact your retirement fund and how you can plan around them, so that you can grow your pension over the long term.
Here are five things you didn’t know affect your pension – and how you can plan around them!
1. Part-time employment
Only workers aged between 22 and 67, who earn more than £10,000 annually will be auto-enrolled into a workplace pension scheme by their employers. However, even if you don’t meet the threshold, you could still be eligible to opt in.
If you work part time, you may not be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. To be eligible for auto-enrolment, your earnings must meet or exceed the £10,000 threshold. However, if you earn less, you can still opt to join a workplace pension.
If you earn less than £6,240, you won’t be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension but you can ask your employer to give you access to a pension to save into. If you make this request, they must set this up for you – but they aren’t required to contribute to it.
If you earn between £6,240 – £10,000, you won’t be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme but you have the right to opt in – and your employer will have to contribute to it.
How can part-time workers save for retirement?
If you’re eligible to receive employer contributions, it’s a good idea to maximise your workplace pension – it’s free money from your employer after all!
If you don’t qualify to receive contributions from your employer, it’s worth considering saving into a personal pension. It’s similar to a workplace pension, except you choose the provider opposed to your employer.
With the Moneybox Personal Pension, you can:
- Track down and combine your old workplace pensions into one personal pension, with the help of our trusty Pension Detectives, free of charge
- Get a 25% bonus from the government on your contributions. So, for every £4 you save, the government will contribute £1 (Pension and Tax rules apply)
- Save as much or as little as you like, whenever and as often as you like, with weekly deposits, monthly payday-boosts, one-off deposits or by rounding up your spare change
- Track the performance of your investment 24/7 in the app
Even if you don’t plan to work part time forever, it’s still important to continue building your pension pot – even if it’s small amounts – as any contributions you make will benefit from pension tax relief and compound interest.
2. Going freelance
For all the perks of being your own boss, one downside is having to sort your own pension. As a self-employed person, you’re not eligible to join a workplace pension scheme and so won’t benefit from employer contributions – which already puts you at a disadvantage compared to your peers under employment.
But what about the State Pension? As long as you’ve paid 35 years’ worth of national insurance contributions, you’ll be eligible to receive the full State Pension. However, the full State Pension in 2022/23 is currently £185.15 a week, or £9,627.80 a year1. Plus, the age at which you can claim the State Pension is 67, increasing to 68. So, depending on what kind of lifestyle you imagine for your future self, and what age you’d like to retire, the State Pension alone might not be enough.
However, there are other ways to grow a healthy pension pot to help you reach your retirement goals – one of which is to save into a personal pension. With a personal pension, you can grow your money with help from pension tax relief and compound interest, choose where your money is invested and save as much or as little as you like.
3. Gender pension gap
Most people have heard of the gender pay gap, but there’s one issue that you could argue has the most impact on women’s financial future that never comes up: the gender pension gap.
The gender pension gap initially emerges because women don’t earn as much as men and therefore don’t contribute as much to their pension. Over time, the gender pension gap far exceeds the gender pay gap because the relative loss of pension contributions compounds for the next 20, 30 or even 40 years.
One study found that, by her 60s, the average woman will have £51,000 in her pension, some 67% less than a man at the same age who will have almost £156,5002. It also states that there are currently 50% more women than men heading towards retirement without any pension wealth at all. Another found that women would need to work 37 years longer than men to have the same retirement outcome3.
To make matters worse, the gap we have to bridge for women is larger than it appears. Though they have typically saved less for their retirement than men, women actually need to have saved more. Around 5-7% more, in fact, because women generally outlive men by around 4 years, and so need their money to last longer.4
How can you protect your pension from the effects of the gender pension gap?
Make an action plan. Find out what you already have saved and figure out what your retirement goal is. That way, you can have a clearer picture of how your pension pot might be affected, should you choose to take time out of work to do something like start a family.
Then you should talk about it! Discuss savings and finances with your partner and make sure that when you’re having conversations about the shared work of raising children, pensions are not forgotten. Some people decide that their working partners should contribute to their pension while they’re taking time out of work for caregiving duties, others might feel that’s not right for them.
If you’re already on arranged leave and unable to pay into your workplace pension, there are a couple of low-effort things you can do to boost your pension pot.
Find and combine old pension pots
If you’ve had multiple jobs in recent years it’s likely that you have old workplace pensions. Consolidating them into one personal pension could mean less admin and fees, and doing this sooner rather than later gives compound interest more time to work its magic.
If you’re not quite sure of your policy details, we have a team of Pension Detectives on hand to track them down. 🔎 Just head in-app to use the pension provider search tool. 📲
Contribute to a personal pension
If you’re unable to contribute to a workplace pension but still have some income and would like to continue building your retirement savings, you could consider opening a personal pension. You’ll benefit from the same pension tax relief in the form of 25% government top ups on your contributions (Pension and Tax rules apply), not forgetting compound interest.
With a Moneybox Pension, you can choose how much you want to contribute to your pot and how frequently you make those deposits. You could make regular contributions, or one-off deposits if you have some extra cash to set aside. Plus, you’re able to choose your pension provider and where your money will be invested.
4. Caregiving duties
Whether it’s taking a career break to start a family or care for older relatives, it’s often (although not always) women who change their working patterns to accommodate the complexities of caregiving. But while a loss of income is immediately and obviously felt, forfeited pension contributions are less visible, and these usually fall in proportion to reduced earnings.
NOW: Pensions estimates this lower participation in the workforce among women accounts for a 47% reduction in how much women in their late 50s have saved into their pensions, compared to men of the same age.5
How can you make sure taking time out for caregiving duties won’t affect your pension?
There’s no one-size-fits all solution here, and it’s made even trickier by the fact that you can’t really plan around when this time will come. But you can have discussions with your family about what level of care and involvement you’ll have and how that will affect you financially. Chat to your partner about how you might share caregiving duties vs financial duties – could you start saving a small nest egg to support you through this period, or could the breadwinner contribute to both pensions?
While it may be some time away, it’s a good idea to start thinking about small steps you can take now to avoid big problems with your retirement fund later.
When getting divorced, any workplace or personal pensions that you or your spouse hold are taken into account when dividing the assets. Pensions are often overlooked or forgotten in divorce proceedings, but arguably one of the most important assets on the table.
One study suggests just 3.9% of divorces included a pension attachment order, a means of redirecting some or all of a pension benefit to an ex-partner.6 Making sure pensions are included in divorce settlements would help to ensure this valuable asset isn’t overlooked.
As with all investing, the value of your pension can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Payments you make into your pension won’t be accessible until the minimum pension age. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and is subject to change.
When deciding whether to transfer your pension, it’s important to compare the charges, investment options & benefits between Moneybox and your old provider. Moneybox cannot accept a transfer from a pension your employer is currently paying into.
If you’re not sure whether the Moneybox Pension is right for you, you may want to contact a suitably qualified financial adviser for help.