Change your life
in an hour

Planning your pension takes less time than you think

It’s important to plan now

If you’re not already saving for retirement, it’s a good time to start. You should also begin to think about how much money you might need.

Why not take an hour to watch videos from experts, get to grips with the pension basics, use the calculator to find out what your retirement income might be and start planning for a comfortable future?

What can I do in an hour?

Pension Basics

See if you're making the most of your company pension and how to trace a lost one.

Learn how much you might need to consider saving for retirement and what people think they'll need on average.

Use the pension calculator and see what you might get when you retire.

Pension Tips

Hear what a financial expert says and how the pension freedoms could work for you.

Gain insight from a behaviour expert and see how you can enjoy planning your future.

Know your options and discover how you can access your pension pot when you retire.

Start to Plan

Find out how an adviser could help and get tips for choosing one.

Share this site with someone else planning your retirement takes less time you think.

Change your life in an hour

Isn’t it amazing what you can achieve in an hour? Before you take your next steps towards a more comfortable retirement, why not encourage friends and family to join in by sharing our video?

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Pension Basics


Here’s a head start if you’re planning for a more comfortable retirement

How can I find out how much my pension is worth?

0:34 secs

I’m in a company pension scheme. Am I set for retirement?

0:48 secs

Can I combine my pension pots together?

0:48 secs

How do I trace a lost pension?

0:24 secs

Watch more Pension Basics in 30 Seconds films

Your income in retirement


£16,393 £19,469 £23,990

Not quite. On average people feel they’ll need £23,990 each year for a comfortable retirement. So if you're retired for over 30 years, imagine how much you'll need to save, not forgetting inflation.

Not quite. On average people feel they’ll need £23,990 each year for a comfortable retirement. So if you're retired for over 30 years, imagine how much you'll need to save, not forgetting inflation.

That’s right. On average people feel they’ll need £23,990 each year for a comfortable retirement. So if you're retired for over 30 years, imagine how much you'll need to save, not forgetting inflation.

Source: Scottish Widows 2016 Retirement Report.

Use the calculator below to see how this might affect your retirement income.

Calculating your needs

Next, see how much income you might get when you retire.

Who has made a start

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People have already made a start

Here are the top ten cities in the UK for visiting our Change your life in an hour website.

Key facts & figures


Did you Know

12.6% is the proportion of income that people save on average

How much will you need?

Did you Know

£22,672 is the average annual amount that 40-49 year olds think they’ll need to feel comfortable in retirement


Did you Know

Only 22% of 40-49 year olds understand the term ‘pension freedoms’.

Are you saving enough?

31% of 40-49 year olds check their pension balance less than once a year

23% of people have no idea if their savings will meet their income needs in retirement

Source: Scottish Widows 2016 Retirement Report.

Pension tips

So far, we've told you people think they'll need £23,990 each year when they retire. If you've used the pension calculator, you'll also have a sense of whether you're on track to meet your retirement goals.

Up next:

  • understand which retirement options might suit you
  • learn how you could enjoy planning your future
  • see how you can access your pension.


TV personality and independent money expert Sarah Pennells explains what you should think about when planning for retirement – and how financial advisers can help.

See how it works

Things to consider as you approach retirement

1:26 min

Getting financial guidance

1:14 min

Think about what you’ll need in retirement

0:41 secs

For more information on the pension basics, read our Jargon buster. For more in-depth videos and information, read our FAQs.


You now have more freedom about what to do with your pension savings. Here's a short guide to how you can access your money when you're 55.

You can combine these options:

A guaranteed income for life – an annuity

Want the reassurance of knowing how much money you'll receive each year? You might like to consider an annuity.

You'll get a guaranteed income for life, which is usually paid monthly.

The amount you'll get depends on factors like:

  • How much you have in your pension pot
  • Your age when you buy the annuity
  • Where you live
  • Your health
  • If you want an income to be paid to a dependant in the event of death

You can take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free cash lump sum. You can then use the rest to buy an annuity – the income from the annuity will be subject to income tax.

How could an annuity work for you? See Helen's story.

Flexible access drawdown

Want to leave some money invested where it would have the potential to grow in value? If your pension provider offers flexible access drawdown, you might like to consider it.

You can access your pension savings when you want, taking the money you want. You can also pass on any money left when you die, and should you die before 75, it will not be subject to tax. However, you'll need to budget properly, or you might run out of money.

You can take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free cash lump sum when you move into drawdown. You can then take lump sums or income from the remaining funds, but these will be subject to tax.

How could flexible access drawdown work for you? See Ted’s story.

Take it as cash

Want to take some, or all, of your pension pot as cash? You might like to consider Partial Pension Encashment, or Full Pension Encashment (you may only have the Full Pension Encashment option on your pension plan).

Every time you withdraw money 25% is available tax-free with the remaining 75% subject to tax (which could push you into a higher tax bracket)

If you take your money as cash, you'll be in control of it. Remember it is there to help you through your retirement so you’ll need to manage it appropriately.

How could taking your pension as cash work for you? See Jill's story.

Leave it for now – defer your pension

Want more time to plan and give your money the potential to grow? You might like to consider leaving your pension invested.

You should check you don't lose any guarantees or benefits by deferring your pension past your chosen retirement age.

How could deferring your pension work for you? See Nigel's story.

Understand your mind and money

Peter Ayton, Professor of Psychology at London City University, explains how it can be hard to plan for your future – but why it can be uplifting once you've done so.

See how it works

Why could making a decision be empowering?

1:10 min

How can you enjoy planning for your future?

1:02 min

Do you know what your future self will want?

1:01 min

Start to plan

So far, you've learned from the experts about making a plan and why it can be challenging to do so. You should also be aware of the ways you can access your pension pot.

Up next:

  • find out more about financial advisers
  • discover the questions you should ask them
  • share this site with someone who might benefit.

Review your plan

If you want to review your current plan, or put a new plan in place, your next step is to speak to your employer or contact an independent financial adviser.

A financial adviser will make sure you have the right plan but be aware that there may be a fee.

What types of Financial Advisers are there?

There are two types: Independent Financial Advisers and Restricted Advisers.

Both are regulated, have passed the same qualifications and can help you decide what pension is right for you. However, there are differences.

Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) – give unbiased advice about the whole range of financial products from all the available companies.

Restricted Advisers – give advice on a limited range of products. They may specialise in one area, like pensions, or advise on products offered by a limited number of companies.

When you first speak to an adviser they must tell you in writing if they offer independent or restricted advice. If you are not sure, ask.

You can find a full list of authorised advisers on the Financial Conduct Authority website.

How should you choose a financial adviser?

  • Use an expert – for retirement advice, you can use a independent financial adviser or a restricted adviser
  • Find someone you can trust – ask your friends and family for a recommendation.
  • Discuss all their fees in advance – make sure you can afford their costs.
  • Get it in writing – you need a copy of their recommendations you can keep.

To make sure you can complain if things go wrong, you should also ensure they’re regulated by checking the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register.

You may also find these websites useful:

  • – enter your postcode to find a nearby financial adviser.
  • – read reviews and ratings by clients of financial advisers.

How can you get the most from your first meeting?

During your meeting, we recommend you:

  • Take notes – so you can review them later.
  • Ask lots of questions – if you’re unhappy with the clarity of your adviser's explanations, you can ask further questions or think about choosing a new one.
  • Don’t sign anything in a hurry – make sure you’ve read and understood it.

What should you ask them?

Before your first meeting:

  • What type of adviser are you?
  • Are you regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?
  • How long have you been advising clients?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • Do you often advise people in my earnings bracket?
  • Can you show me references from satisfied clients?
  • Do you charge a fee for the initial consultation?
  • How will you be paid, how much, and how often?
  • Is there anything your fee doesn’t cover?
  • Are there any areas you can’t advise me on?
  • Where and when will meetings take place?

During your meeting:

  • What are the risks?
  • What are the charges and how do they compare with those of similar products?
  • Why is this product the best for me?
  • How does it fit in with the other financial products I already have?

At the end of your meeting:

  • Don’t feel pressurised to sign up for anything if you need more time to think.
  • Take as much time as you need to consider or read proposals or Key Features documents.
  • Arrange a follow-up meeting.


We hope you agree that planning your retirement takes less time than you think – and that you’ve learned a lot in just an hour.

Want to find out more about planning for a comfortable retirement?

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Pensions are a long-term investment. The retirement benefits you receive from your pension plan will depend on a number of factors including the value of your plan when you decide to take your benefits which isn't guaranteed, and can go down as well as up. The value of your plan could fall below the amount(s) paid in. The tax treatment of your pension depends on your individual circumstances. Your circumstances and tax rules may change.