They say that numbers never lie, but they can certainly be confusing. For most of us, calculating whether we have enough for retirement is likely to be one of the most complicated set of sums we ever do. Can you actually afford to retire?
The problem is, the circumstances and amounts are different for each individual. In its 2015 Family Spending Report, the Office for National Statistics shows the average weekly spend for a retired adult is £247 per week. Over the course of a year this adds up to a total of £12,844.
The current state pension of £119.30 would leave each pensioner with a shortfall of around £6,400 which will need to be filled by private provision. At current annuity rates this would require a pot of up to £125,000. And an inflation-linked annuity (where rates increase with inflation) could cost nearer £200,000.
But many of us aspire to a retirement beyond the average.
In this blog we have tried to crunch the numbers and help you discover whether you can afford to retire.
While £12,000 might be the average amount in retirement it may not be enough to buy you the retirement you want. It may not even be enough to fund the lifestyle you currently have.
The simple rule of thumb for a comfortable retirement is by taking 2/3 of your current income. It’s a crude figure, but it’s a good starting point.
The next stage is to establish your current position. This involves collating details of all of your current pensions. It’s worth taking some time here, with the Government estimating UK savers are missing out on up to £400m in ‘lost’ pensions.
In May this year the Department of Work and Pensions launched an online service to help you track down and pensions which you might be entitled too.
Once you’ve got the information, you can use a retirement calculator to obtain an indication of your projected retirement income.
Lifestyle choices when you retire
Now you’ve got the numbers you’ll have a reasonable understanding of where you are. The next step is to analyse your retirement budget.
The budget is simply an analysis of your projected future expenditure, which should give you a good idea of what amount you will need to live comfortably.
While many of us hope to be mortgage free at retirement there are other benefits too that are currently offered by the Government, including free public transport, TV licenses and a winter fuel allowance. Make sure you check out what you are entitled to and remove any unnecessary expenses from your projections.
It’s also worth considering a phenomenon that economists call the Retirement consumption phenomenon. Over the course of retirement people tend to spend and consume less, running contrary to economic theory that suggests our spending should broadly stay the same. The reality is that our spending reduces 1% every year.
The truth is, what you spend now and in the future may be quite different.
Trip of a lifetime
Retirement isn’t just about survival. Many people view retirement as an opportunity to do the things they’ve always wanted – travel the world, fix up the house and even buy a sports car.
If you’re planning large expenses it’s worth getting some advice about the best way to fund it. Many people look to the 25% tax-free lump sum, but this can make poor financial sense, particularly if you’re looking to purchase an annuity.
In an ideal world, we would all be free to choose the age we retire, and have enough money to maintain the lifestyle we want. But the world isn’t always that simple. As a result, it’s worth seeking out the advice of a professional.
Recent changes to pensions, including increased freedom for your investments and the removal of the need to purchase an annuity have multiplied the choices we have to make, so independent financial advice is more important than ever.
It’s not just those for those who are close to retirement. In fact, at whatever point you are in your life and your career you can make a difference to your retirement, putting you in control.