Change your life
in an hour

Planning your retirement 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, find out how combining your pensions might save you money 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.

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

Find out how you can combine your pensions and how it could save you money.

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

Start to Plan

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

Share this site with someone else and show how planning your retirement takes less time than you think.

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?

0:29 secs

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

0:48 secs

How much should I be saving for retirement?

0:36 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.

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. And 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
  • See how combining your pensions could save you money
  • Learn how you could enjoy planning your future
  • Explore the options on accessing your pension

An expert’s view

TV personality and independent money expert Sarah Pennells explains what you should think about when planning for retirement – and what to do if you don’t think you’ve saved enough.

Things to consider as you approach retirement

1:26 secs

What should you do if you don’t think you’ve saved enough?

0:42 secs

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

What are your pension options?

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.

Two or more pensions?

If you have two or more pensions it could be time to combine.

Why combine?

  • You could benefit from a better performance on your pensions
  • We won’t charge you to combine, but check your current provider doesn’t charge you a fee for leaving
  • Save money – you could pay less on pension charges by combining with us
  • Personalised support throughout the process and dedicated guides on our pension transfers site
  • Less pensions will mean less paperwork and better control of your pensions.

It’s never been easier to combine and take control of your pensions and we can guide you through each step.

Speak to our specialists for a free consultation on whether combining is right for you.

0345 608 0383 - You can call us Monday to Thursday (9am–8pm), Friday (9am–6pm) or Saturday (9am–1pm).

Or let us call you

Arrange a call back

For more information visit our Pension Transfers site.

Pensions transfers require careful consideration. They aren't right for everyone and there are a number of things you need to understand before deciding if it is the right thing to do. Our online service and dedicated telephone support team provide helpful information to help you understand what type of pension plans and guarantees or benefits you may have, to help you make an informed decision on whether transferring is in your best interests. If you do decide to move any of your pensions they will be transferred on a non-advised basis. We do not offer financial advice as part of this process and you will be responsible for making sure that this is the right thing for you to do.

If you would like financial advice we can discuss the options available to you either through a Scottish Widows Adviser or we can help you find an independent financial adviser.

Am I eligible?

  • You can combine your pensions with a contribution of £10,000 (which can be made of more than one transfer)
  • There is no minimum age to combine your pension
  • You are under age 75 when you start your new policy
  • You are a resident in the UK

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.

The power of making decisions

1:10 min

How can you enjoy planning for your future?

1:00 min

Do you know what your future self will want?

1:00 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 and looked at how combining your pensions could work for you.

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.

Discover more

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.

Take the next step:

For more detailed information about your pension options, visit the Retirement Planning section of our website.

Or learn more from other independent websites:
Go to the Pensions Advisory Service website
Visit the Money Advice Service website
Visit the Pension Wise website

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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.