Planning your retirement? Five tips to help improve your pension

Posted 22.04.2021

I’m sure you’ve pictured the scene. Waking up well rested and happy, the whole day open to spend how you like, and no worries about commuting, work or — most importantly — money.

This scene doesn’t happen by itself. It takes forward thinking and saving on your part. The good news is, with some careful planning you can help improve your retirement prospects. How you choose to spend your days is up to you.

Start early

You can never start saving too early for your pension.

Begin saving early to give yourself more potential to grow a bigger pension pot. But you can also start with a smaller monthly contribution and work your way up.

Because your pension savings are accruing interest for the duration of the time you’re saving, it’s really worth saving however much you can, as early as you can.

Starting early also gives another benefit: If you’re already putting into your pension each month, increasing that amount by a percentage point each year (or whatever you decide) will be much more manageable than going from zero to a high pension contribution.

Seek advice from a pension specialist

While general pensions advice can be very helpful, every individual is unique. Your career, financial commitments and lifestyle are all unique to you. So too are the age you want to retire, how you plan to access your pension, and how you’re going to spend it.

With so much variety, speaking to a dedicated pension specialist can help you to find the right pension for you, to work out the best savings plan, and help you create a timeline.

Work out what you’ll need, then save accordingly

When it comes to pensions, many people take the approach: “I’ll just save a bit now and work out what to do later.” After all, there are much more exciting things to think about than pension planning. But it’s easy to see how people find themselves in financial difficulty later down the line.

It’s far better to start from the end. How much will you need once you’ve retired? What are your annual bills and expenses? How much will you allow for a buffer each year? What about holidays and hobbies?

Work all that out, and then calculate how much you’ll need to accrue to make that a reality. You’ll be amazed at the peace of mind.

Put more away than you need

Nobody ever regretted saving more pension money. Once you’re retired the last thing you want to be worrying about is having enough cash to cover you.

So once you’ve calculated everything you’ll need, put more away into your pension pot when you can. Each extra contribution you make now is a gift to future you. Maybe some extra spending money, home improvement cash, or a helping hand for the kids or grandkids.

You’ll thank yourself later.

Avoid the temptation to dip in early

In recent years it’s become easier to dip into your personal pension early — but that doesn’t mean you should.

The earlier you start withdrawing from your pension, the greater the risk that the money will run out while you still need it. Most people tend to underestimate how long their retirement will be, and therefore how much cash they’ll need.

You’ll also be missing out on the interest building on your savings.

Speak to one of our advisers today to work out the best pension path for you, including a strategy for how and when to start accessing your pension.


The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select, and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.

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