Life isn't always as simple as we'd like it to be. Some things take us by surprise and those surprises can cost money. Your circumstances will change over time and so may the lifestyle you expect to have when you retire. So flexibility is important when it comes to saving for the future, and when you want to access your money.
Currently, from age 55 (57 from 6 April 2028, unless you have a protected pension age), you'll have several options for what to do with the money in your pot. You may need to move your pot to another pension to access some of these options or to access them when you prefer.
You can do this by moving your money into a drawdown plan. In most cases you can take up to 25% of your money tax-free, you'll need to do this at the start. You can then dip in and out when you like or take a regular income. This may be subject to income tax.
You can buy an annuity – it pays you an income (a bit like a salary) and is guaranteed for life. These payments may be subject to income tax. In most cases you can take 25% of the money in cash, tax-free. You'll need to do this at the start and you need to take the rest as income.
You can take your pot as a single lump sum. Normally the first 25% is tax-free but the rest may be subject to income tax.
You can leave the money in your pot and take out cash lump sums whenever you need to – until it's all gone or you decide to do something else. You decide when and how much to take out. Every time you take money from your pot, the first 25% is usually tax-free and the rest may be subject to income tax.
You don't normally have to start taking money from your pot when you turn 55 (57 from 6 April 2028, unless you have a protected pension age), It's not a deadline to act although you will need to take your benefits by age 75.
You don't have to choose one option – you can take a combination of some or all of them over time.
You might be able to take your benefits earlier than age 55 if you’re in ill health.
Regardless of your age, if you have a life expectancy of less than one year due to ill health, you may be able to take your pension pot tax-free.
You should get guidance or financial advice to help you with this decision. Pension Wise is a government service from MoneyHelper that offers free and impartial guidance to help you understand your options at retirement. Find out more at moneyhelper.org.uk/pensionwise or by calling 0800 280 8880 to book a phone or face-to-face appointment.
One of the benefits of your pension scheme is that your contributions are flexible. You can contribute as much as you like into your pension, although the total amount of tax relief you get on your pension savings is limited.
You may have a few options when it comes to investing your money.
The money you save into your pension comes from your salary. There are different ways to make your contributions and they impact the tax savings you make.
During your working life, it's important to consider your retirement and the ability to enjoy life when you reach retirement. Saving into your workplace pension could help you do just that.
Auto-enrolment is a UK Government initiative aimed at helping more people save for the future through a workplace pension.
This is an example of how salary sacrifice might work.
This is an example of how non-salary sacrifice might work.