Retirement planning: Will you have enough to live comfortably when you give up work?

19th March 2018

If you have recently been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension, you should be feeling happy with yourself, staying opted in, making contributions and building your pension fund feels great.

But it might not be enough.

Most employed people are building their retirement income in two ways:

  • National Insurance contributions to secure a State Pension
  • A workplace pension which both employer and employee pay into

But do you know whether that will be enough to live on when you finish working? And how will you bridge the gap, if it’s not?

Should you set your sights lower and resign yourself to a poverty-stricken retirement?

Absolutely not.

Let’s look at what you could get from your workplace and State pensions.

Workplace pensions

Automatic enrolment has been phased in and more than nine million people are now involved in a workplace pension.

If you are one of them, both you and your employer will be contributing into a pension fund each month. The amount contributed is calculated using your qualifying earnings; the amount earned between £5,876 and £45,000.

As the new tax year begins in April, the minimum contributions for both you and your employer will rise. Currently, the minimum contribution is 1% for both, but this will rise to 2% for employer and 3% for employees.

So, your monthly pension contributions will increase, but how does that translate into actual retirement income?

For a 30-year-old male, earning an average salary of £30,056 (Source: Office for National Statistics(ONS)), their annual contributions will be:

(Source: NEST Pensions Calculator)

  • £901.50 employee
  • £601 employer

Then, from April 2019, these will rise to:

  • £1502.50 employee (5%)
  • £901.50 employer (3%)

If they retire at the age of 68, they could expect to have a pension pot of approximately £170,000. This could then be broken down into:

  • A 25% Pension Commencement Lump Sum of £42,500
  • An annual income of £5,920

Or an annual income of £7,890, without taking a 25% lump sum.

Find out how much retirement income you could have using the NEST pension Calculator.

Your State Pension

If they have enough qualifying years (35) to receive the Full State Pension upon retirement, today’s 30-year-old is likely to get a retirement income of approximately £160 per week (Source:

The equates to £8,320 per year.

The issue here is that many people are uneducated about their State Pension. Currently, among 18-24-year-olds:

  • 93% do not know how much they will get from their State Pension
  • 83% don’t know when they will be able to receive their State Pension.

Among older adults who have not yet retired, more than half (52%) don’t know when they can start receiving a State Pension and 55% are unsure of how much income they will get. (Source: B&CE)

If you are one of them, you can find out your State Pension Age here.

While the income you will receive is not yet set in stone, there are estimated weekly income values available here.

Workplace and State pension total

From the calculations above, we can see that a 30-year-old on an average salary, can expect to have approximately £16,210 in annual retirement income, as long as they don’t require a lump sum at any point for emergencies or a big purchase.

For most people, that won’t be an adequate income. To find out how much you will need to live your ideal lifestyle in retirement, use a retirement income calculator, like this one.

Bridging the gap

How can you make sure that you are able to support yourself financially during retirement?

There are a number of options, including:

  • Continuing to work, even part-time or as a consultant, instead of retiring fully
  • Accepting a lower income than you originally planned for
  • Making larger contributions to your workplace pension

Of course, the best way to make sure that you are on track for an enjoyable, and affordable retirement is financial planning.

An independent financial planner will be able to identify your goals and aspirations and develop a strategy to bridge the gap between what you currently have, and what you need to retire on time.

Research from the International Longevity Centre has shown that consulting a financial adviser or planner can help you to boost your retirement income. Of those who had sought advice and planning:

  • 65-79-year olds earned an additional £1,100 per year
  • At 80+, retirees had an extra £1,300 per year

To boost your retirement income and make sure that you can enjoy your time after finishing work, without worrying too much about money, get in touch.