Posted in change, old age

retirement, already? think: retiresavvy!

I’ll be honest. Retirement is not something that regularly enters my mind. When DesertDad and I decided that I would take a career break to care for our kids, we did it on the basis of being afford to live on one salary now – not in retirement. We calculated the income difference (virtually nothing, since I’d supported DD for the three years leading up to having our first child) – but we didn’t calculate the impact of me not paying into a pension plan for several years.

Added to this, pensions have always been a tricky discussion point in our household. As Christians, we’re always trying to negotiate the careful balance between Trusting God and Being Sensible. How much security is too much? How much should we trust God to provide for our futures – and how much is He providing for them right here, right now? Should we aim for financial independence, or mutual support from the church family?

Skipton Building Society has realised that there are many people floundering like me when it comes to pensions, and has put together an excellent online resource called retiresavvy. It’s not just designed for older people – although has plenty of information and guidance for those nearing retirement (as well as those already there) – but is aimed at younger people too. There are some great articles written by young parents, which take into account how hard it is to pay into a pension fund whilst also raising a family, with reduced income and increased expenditure. If you fit into this demographic, I’d seriously encourage you to take a look at this part of the site in particular – I found it tremendously useful.

There’s also plenty of up-to-date information on the latest changes to pensions. For example, I discovered that, to receive a full State Pension, you have to have been making National Insurance contributions for 35 years – but also that “you continue to accrue National Insurance contributions towards your State pension if you’re not working for a period but claiming Child Benefit, right up until your child reaches the age of 12″. Phew! I love that retiresavvy doesn’t come across as simply one huge advertisement for Skipton but, on the whole, gives sensible, impartial advice.

None of the website is patronising, dismissive or spoken in financial jargon. The info is there – plus lots of interesting articles on all aspects of getting older – and you can make up your own mind on what you need. I can read it in the light of my existing questions about retirement, and not feel like it compromises my faith.

The portal has been created so that you pick an area you’re interested in (e.g. ‘Retirement planning for families’ or ‘Keeping busy in retirement‘) and then select from a number of interesting posts written within that field. This took a little while to get used to – initially I was looking for some straightforward menus which would take me directly to one piece of information – but, as I spent a bit more time navigating the portal, I found the multi-faceted approach more interesting. It gives you a much broader perspective on retirement, so that whilst you leave the website feeling more informed, you certainly don’t feel like you’ve been to the Headteacher’s office for a Good Telling Off.

From the moment I heard about retiresavvy, I was excited to try it out, but have to say I was a little disappointed in the appearance when I first visited the site. Given that Skipton are trying to entice younger people to use the portal to think about their futures, I do feel that the Homepage could look a little brighter, a little more fun, perhaps with a few more photos (and not just of people in their 60s). Also, the helpful little video – which can be found if you scroll down the Homepage – should really be higher up, as it’s a useful first-port-of-call. However, the font and pictures are great, and the overall layout feels good: the right balance of information and white space. There’s also a forum – great for asking questions or contributing to the ongoing, complex discussion of retirement. Articles are the right length and tone – and generally this is a very helpful resource, which just needs some minor tweaking, I feel, to give it maximum impact.

Having goals in life is important in retirementOver to you: are you a younger person thinking about retirement? Or an older person relieved that you did think about it in advance? How should we be stewarding our money wisely, now and in the future?

I was asked to review retiresavvy.skipton.co.uk by Skipton and the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. All views are my own. I was entered into a prize draw to win vouchers as a token of thanks for blogging. View other blogs on this topic here: http://www.mumsnet.com/ bloggers/retiresavvy-portal- what-our-bloggers-thought-

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Author:

I'm a stay-at-home mum to four kids between 1 and 6, and was formerly a teacher. I blog about living life as a disciple of Christ whilst coping with the demands and excitements of having small children. I've been battling an addiction with chocolate for many years. I'm generally winning, but my teeth are not.

3 thoughts on “retirement, already? think: retiresavvy!

  1. Ah well done for researching all this Lucy. I hope it helps people to think through this thing which might not seem very riveting but we’ll be glad we did one day! X

  2. Hi Lucy

    Welcome to the Retirement Club! Although we were not expecting you to join in our lifetime you are most welcome.

    Although I have not read the Skipton website it sounds to be filled with some good sense and without too much pressure to respond by paying into their own schemes. Always a welcome attitude that probably brings in a reasonable amount of business in the long term.

    Recognising that expected lifespans are steadily increasing – the latest being 87+ for women – it seems a sound action to plan ahead for Christian’s and non- Christian’s alike as each of us expects to bear the costs of living in the future.

    For Christians it seems to me that planning for this late life period by investing some income into a fund can be seen as investing future income into God’s kingdom. My reasoning is that planning for income in the future, is a way of enabling us be prepared to support God’s work in our later years and to make provision to allow us be His generous people as we see needs arising. Does this imply lack of trust? Maybe, and maybe not, as it could be seen as preparing to be those he uses in future years to meet the needs of people whose circumstances mean they have to continue trusting him in that later stage of life – or even to support those younger disciples who are learning to trust him at the start of their journey of faith.

    We are certainly warned not to love money, and I wonder if the recent relaxing of pension law allowing folk to take their accumulated funds before retirement might encourage that? Setting aside a pension fund that will enable a predictable income after working life hardly seems to be loving money as long as we continue using it as part of our life investing in God’s kingdom.

    Like many people employed in the public services I did not specifically plan for retirement but was simply placed in a pension scheme; it so happened that when I moved to employment with a charity my pension fund was transferrable and available on retirement. In the last few years ahead of retirement I decided to add some additional contribution as our family became independent.

    The outcome for us has been that in His generosity God has ensured our needs are met, as well as setting us free to respond to many differing needs to which he points us. We feel blessed by God and delight in seeking to bless others.

    ‘RetireSavvy’ seems to make sense if it enables Christians to continue their tithing to build God’s Kingdom, and to love their neighbours rather than money.

    Thanks for prompting me to think about this issue through your creative writing.

    Love

    Derek >

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