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.
Over 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-