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Make sure your pensions sparkle this Bonfire Night

Fireworks and pensions have a lot in common. They both come in many different shapes and sizes, some can be spectacular arrangements and others can end up a bit disappointing. However, unlike a underwhelming firework, there are some things that you can do to ensure that your pension works for you.

Make sure your sums will sparkle in retirement
It's easy to get side tracked into thinking pensions are difficult and so put off making important decisions about your future. However, when you start looking into joining a pension, most people are pleasantly surprised. And the sooner you can start saving into a pension the longer your savings have to grow. This is important when you work out how much money you are likely to need when you retire.

Do you own your own home and still have a mortgage, or do you rent and need to make sure you have enough money each month to pay your bills? Once you have worked out your expenses, consider how much of these will be covered by any State Pension entitlement you may have. What you have left (plus or minus) will need to be covered by any other sources of income you receive. This could be savings or additional incomes, for example rent from property you might own. The difference between the above is what you’ll need to save for. And a pension is a good way of saving money to provide this income.

Don’t be surprised by an unexpected ‘bang’ in your State Pension
Don’t take your State Pension for granted. To qualify for the full amount (£155.65 a week as at April 2016), you need to have made enough qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. It’s not the amount you’ve paid that counts, but how many years you’ve paid in. If you have gaps in your records you may be able to fill these to increase your entitlement. You can check your  State Pension here.

Staying enrolled is a good way to sky rocket  your way to saving
Since the introduction of automatic enrolment more and more people are being enrolled into a workplace pension. This means that if you’re eligible, your employer will have to automatically put you into their workplace pension scheme and help you to contribute towards it. Once enrolled, you can leave the scheme at any time, but if you can stay in the scheme you should seriously consider it. You will benefit from tax-relief on what you put into the scheme and your employer will be putting in money for you too. That has to make sense!

Like a good firework display, the more fireworks the better! The same goes for your pension, the more you can save the better your pension position could be.
We understand that the cost of living can make it hard to find money for savings. But, it’s important you put money away for your later life. So, if you get a pay rise, or a bonus, or find you can free up some money by spending less somewhere else, think about paying a little more into your pension. Because what you put in now will pay off for you later.

You’re never too old or too young to enjoy a Bonfire night and the same goes for your pension, it’s never too early or too late to start saving.
If you’re young, and at the beginning of your career, you have many years ahead of you during which the money you save can grow through investments. If you’re older and think it’s too late, it’s good to know that you will also benefit from the tax-relief on your contributions and investment growth. Retirement might seem like a lifetime away, but it will benefit you in the long run to save now and spend later.

Remember, remember… to check your annual statement!
Your pension scheme  will provide you with an annual benefit statement showing what you are entitled to, based on your contributions to date. This will help you decide whether you are happy with how your pension is doing, or whether you need to take action, such as review your investment options, contribute more, or set up an additional pension. Most people only look at their pension shortly before they plan to retire, but we often find it is often too late to make significant changes.

Fireworks aren’t fun on your own and neither is thinking about your pension
Pensions can be hard to think about, especially on your own. Often it’s good to talk things through with someone who really understands where you’re coming from. Remember, If you ever have a question about your pension or about pensions in general, you only have to ask us for help. Our guidance is free and impartial. We won’t tell you want you should or shouldn’t do, but we can provide you with answers and next steps.

We’re also here if you have a problem with your pension scheme that you are unable to resolve. We’ll look at the problem and, if we feel you have a case, we will mediate with your scheme provider to try to find a solution which is acceptable to all parties.
Additionally, if you’re aged 50 and above, with a defined contribution pension you’re also able to take full advantage of a Pension Wise appointment to help you understand your pension options.

So follow our top tips this November to ensure your retirement isn’t a damp squib, making sure you get the perfect pension display! 

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