Change your life
in an hour

Planning your retirement takes less time than you think

It’s never too soon to start

If you begin now, it could make a big difference to your retirement savings.

Why not take an hour to watch videos from experts, get to grips with the pension basics, find out how combining your pensions might save you money and start planning for a more comfortable future?

What can I do in an hour?

Pension Basics

Understand what a pension is and if a company one is enough.

Find out about automatic enrolment and how this can help you save for retirement.

Learn who contributes to your pension and how this could boost your retirement savings.

See how tax relief helps your pension and when could be a good time to increase contributions.

Pension Tips

Discover what percentage of your income you should put aside and see if you’re saving enough.

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

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

Hear if ‘the ostrich effect’ threatens your pension and if money can buy you happiness.

Start to Plan

Think about making or reviewing your plan and learn how to choose an adviser who can help.

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 comfortable retirement


What is a pension?

0:34 secs

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

0:34 secs

How much money should I be saving for retirement?

0:36 secs

Why does my pension rise/fall in value?

0:49 secs

Watch more Pension Basics in 30 seconds films

What automatic enrolment means for you

If you’re employed, your employer will usually have to enrol you into a pension scheme, if they haven’t already done so. They’ll do this automatically – and pay into it on your behalf alongside your own contributions. You’ll also benefit from tax relief on your contributions.

If you’re self-employed, you won’t be automatically enrolled, but you can still contribute to a pension and you’ll also benefit from tax relief on your contributions.

See how it works

Find out what automatic enrolment is from TV personality and independent money expert Sarah Pennells.

An introduction to automatic enrolment

1:13 min

We've based this example on automatic enrolment, where the minimum contribution from 2019 is 3% from the employer, 4% from the employee and 1% in tax relief. This would be the minimum automatic enrolment contribution for someone earning £29,876 each year, which gives pensionable earnings of £24,000.

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.

Pension tips

So far, we’ve covered some pension basics like automatic enrolment – and how your pension contribution could increase once you've paid in through employer contributions and tax relief.

Up next:

  • discover what percentage of your income we recommend you should save
  • use the calculator to see what your retirement income might be
  • See how combining your pensions could save you money
  • find out if money can buy you happiness.

An Expert's view

TV personality and independent money expert Sarah Pennells explains tax relief – and how to make sure you’re in the best shape for your future.

Tax relief explained

0:24 secs

Planning ahead for your retirement

0:42 secs

To find out the meaning of other pension terms, read our jargon buster. For more in-depth videos and information, read our FAQs.

What percentage of your
income should you save?

How much of your earnings do you think it’s recommended you need to save for retirement?

6% 8% 12%

Not quite. We recommend you save at least 12% of your salary each month. From 2018, workplace pensions will be set at a minimum 8%, including contributions from your employer and tax relief.

Not quite. We recommend you save at least 12% of your salary each month. From 2018, workplace pensions will be set at a minimum 8%, including contributions from your employer and tax relief.

That’s right. We recommend you save at least 12% of your salary each month. From 2018, workplace pensions will be set at a minimum 8%, including contributions from your employer and tax relief.

Source: Scottish Widows 2016 Retirement Report.

Calculating your needs

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

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

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

55% of 30-39 year olds don’t think they are preparing adequately for retirement.

How much will you need?

Did you Know

£24,156 is the average annual amount that 30-39 year olds think they’ll need to feel comfortable in retirement.


Did you Know

27 is the age at which people aged 60-64 think saving for retirement should begin.

Are you saving enough?

33% of 30-39 year olds are saving nothing for retirement each month.

53% of 30-39 year olds are saving adequately for retirement.

Source: Scottish Widows 2016 Retirement Report.

Understand your mind and money

Being in control of your finances can feel empowering. Peter Ayton, Professor of Psychology at London City University, explains why people find it so hard to start saving – and whether money can buy happiness.

Is ‘the ostrich effect’ a threat to your savings?

1:07 min

Does money equal happiness?

1:35 min


Start to plan

So far, we've recommended you consider saving 12% of your income for retirement and looked at whether combining your pensions could save you money. 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:

  • find out more about financial advisers
  • discover the questions you should ask.

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.

Take the next step:

Visit our ‘Nearing Retirement’ section of this website.

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

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