Blog » Checklist: preparing for retirement

Checklist: preparing for retirement

January 10, 2023
The details provided in this article are for general information only and are in no way deemed to be financial advice. All of the material is correct as of the publication date, but could be out-of-date by the time you read the article.

Anticipation of an exciting retirement rarely comes at the beginning of a working career. This is a little sad because the retirement phase in our lives is becoming an ever more attractive proposition and needs preparation – we need the money to fund it. With ever increasing advances in technology and communications it really could be the time when you find real freedom to do those things you want to do and live the life you want to.

So, how can you prepare for retirement financially (especially at a time of economic crisis)? What should you be taking into account and how can you make yourself safe?

1. What will your retirement look like?

Perhaps the first place to start is considering what retirement for you is likely to look like. This vision is going to be unique for everyone – some of us are travellers, some sporty, some of us just want to stay at home by the fire and bask in the glory of our memories. However, throughout our lives as culture changes around us and our needs and wants change, our vision of the future will also change. So, it is not so much creating a rigid idea of what you want for retirement but keeping that post-work period in mind all the time, so you can maximise the funds around you to make it work as you travel along the road.

2. When are you likely to be able to retire?

A big question will be around when you want to retire. As medical advances are creating a larger population in the UK, the official retirement age is getting higher too. This means we are likely to be working longer and our official retirement date gets further and further away…

Rules set by the government are also likely to change – but at the moment, from the age of 55, you can withdraw your private pension – this is called Pension Freedoms. You will not be officially retiring but you can start withdrawing your private pensions in the form of a lump sum, a series of lump sums, draw it down on a regular basis or as an income.

Releasing pension money early is not right for everyone as it will leave you worse off in retirement.

3. What are your options and resources?

You will of course continue to build up occupational pensions while you are working. Private and workplace pensions can be withdrawn from the age of 55 in the UK under current law. You will receive your State Pension on your official retirement date. The latter will be the date which is specified for you and is dependent upon when you were born. This date may change throughout your life.

Middle aged lady sitting at a laptop with her financial adviser, preparing for retirement

4. Keeping track and maximising growth

The key to being financially safe in retirement is preparing for it as early as possible. That’s why an occupational pension can be so useful.

Occupational pension

An occupational pension gets you saving for your later years when retirement seems distant and certainly not a priority. The other great thing about a workplace pension is your employer will also contribute a percentage towards it. Your employer will have already chosen a pension provider (that’s one less hassle at a young age) and your contribution is automatically taken out at source from your salary.

However, as perfect as this may seem, it could also trigger a bit of a problem. The concept of retirement, and preparation for it, is taken out of your hands. So, it’s important to monitor growth of your pension (this can be done through the pension provider themselves or your Human Resources department).

State Pension

The State Pension is fundamental to your income in retirement. Thanks to the triple lock system, it is designed to keep up with inflation (though this may be an increasing problem for the government in the current economic crisis).

However, not everyone will receive the same amount at retirement. The amount you receive is dependent upon the amount of National Insurance (NI) contributions you make throughout your working life. If you are away from work for any reason or self-employed, ensure NI contributions are still being made.

You can check your State Pension forecast by clicking here. If you find the amount you will receive is lower than the current rate, you can make voluntary contributions to increase the pay-out.

Older lady with glasses reading about the State Pension

Private pensions

There are numerous pension providers and funds to choose from. However, it can be quite complex deciding where the best place will be to put your money. A regulated financial adviser can guide you through and help you choose the most appropriate fund.

Remember to keep an eye on the performance of your fund throughout your working life and your financial guide can help you if you need to transfer your money or if you wish to consider other providers at any time.

5. Different ages and preparation

The intensity in which we prepare for retirement tends to be dependent upon age. The older we get, the more important the idea of retirement is. But ironically, the earlier we put the structures in place and begin investing, the easier and safer it is all going to be for our later years.

The older you are the more you will be able to calculate more precisely as to what finances you will need and also how the funds you have are likely to progress. The ways in which you can receive your pension are:

  • You can withdraw up to 25% of your pension (after the age of 55, tax-free. This would be a tax-free lump sum).
  • You may want to leave a private pension fund alone so that it continues to grow through investment.
  • You could buy an annuity. This would give you a guaranteed income for the rest of your life.
  • Leave a large proportion of your pension alone and draw an income from it. This is called income drawdown.


There is no doubt that keeping retirement finances front of mind throughout your working years will enable you to prepare more precisely for your retirement. With regular monitoring and perhaps the guidance of a regulated financial adviser you can maximise, as far as possible, what benefits are available to you. As you get closer to retirement that information allows you to adapt your funds in order to create finances for a safe and happy retirement.

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