For many people, retirement is the pinnacle of their working lives – the just reward for a lifetime of labour. But, for others, freedom from the shackles of a work routine can often come as quite a shock to those who have worked for the best part of fifty years.
Retirement can take a lot of planning, and not only financially – we also need to think about what we're going to do with all our new-found free time.
We spoke to millennials Rose (@rose_dykins), Charlotte (@cmsportsmassage) and Chris (@AZODiMUSiC) who had some questions for retirees Patricia, Bob and Joan about their experience of retirement and pensions, and how they planned for it.
‘Not working is really great!’ grins Joan, 70, from Staffordshire, who has been retired for ten years. ‘I get to spend more time with my family and friends, and I can travel and go on lots more holidays.’
‘It's lovely having more time for my family and my three grandchildren,’ says Patricia, 71, from Norfolk, who fully retired three years ago.
‘The best thing for me is escaping all the work-related stress and the 'must-work' conditioning we're all drawn into,’ explains Bob, 71, from the West Midlands, who has been retired for nine years. ‘And I'm finally getting time to explore hobbies rather than just work.’
‘Start as early as you can,’ advises Bob. ‘Don't leave it too late. If you start contributing at the start of your career, it really does make all the difference.’
‘As soon as you start your working life, check that your employer offers a pension plan. Check it out before signing up and make sure it's with a reputable firm,’ advises Patricia. ‘Even if it's only a small pension at the start, you can always top it up when you can afford it. Every little helps.’
‘I've heard some awful stories on the TV about people being ripped off,’ says Joan. ‘So please do think about it carefully, do lots of research and get professional advice before you commit.’
‘Yes, I did, and it felt like the right decision at the time,’ says Bob. ‘But it's not for everyone and every situation is different.’
‘My husband did and we invested it in a motorhome,’ says Patricia. ‘So it was worth it for us.’
‘When I was retirement planning, I would have liked to have added more to my voluntary contribution to increase my final pension,’ says Bob. ‘Although I have both a state and a work pension, it would have made a big difference.’
‘Oh yes,’ agree all three.
‘Retirement has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and see my five grandchildren grow up, which is priceless,’ enthuses Bob.
Planning for retirement is not a one-size-fits-all package. We all have different needs and ideas of how we want to spend life's final trimester and sensible financial planning well in advance will help us make the most of it. Retirement funds and pensions may not be the first thing millennials will want to spend their hard-earned money on, but by starting early, their diligence will pay handsomely in their twilight years.