What are my future life goals?

Having a clear picture of what you want your retirement to look like, could help you work out whether you’ve saved enough for the retirement you aspire to. It may also influence your choice of how or when to take your money.

If you don’t have a clear vision of retirement, here are some suggestions of what you may wish to think about.

Picturing your future life

These considerations focus on the lifestyle you would like in retirement. Thinking about these questions could help you work out how much money you think you may need each year and whether you’ve saved enough.

  • Holidays – are you hoping to take multiple holidays abroad each year? Maybe you’re planning a large trip that requires a lot of money upfront. Or are you happy with less frequent and local holidays?
  • Housing – will you still have a mortgage to pay off? Are you considering moving house to either a larger or smaller home?
  • Transport – maybe you want to buy a new car, or you might be driving less than before. Will you be relying more on public transport instead?
  • Hobbies – do you want to take up any new hobbies or do more of what you love? What are the costs associated with this?
  • Food and drink – do you intend to eat out more or expect to spend more on food and drink?
  • Large purchases – do you have your heart set on any extravagant purchases that may require a lump sum of cash?

Money questions about life beyond work

These are high level questions to consider regarding your finances once you’re ready to stop work.

  • Safety – do you want a guaranteed income in retirement, or are you happy with a flexible income? This could impact your choice of how to take your retirement income.
  • Would you like to keep your pension pot invested after you retire? Doing so could give it potential to grow further. However, this would mean it’s still at risk of the ups and downs of market volatility, so growth isn’t guaranteed, and you may still get back less than you invested.
  • Beneficiaries – if you want your pension benefits to be passed on to loved ones after your death, this may impact how you take your benefits. Think about whether this is something you’d like to do.
  • Other savings – do you have other savings, such as easy-access savings, investments or inheritance you could live off of for a while, to delay withdrawing from your pension?

This isn’t an extensive list, so make sure to have a think and write down as much as you can about what you want from retirement. If you need help writing a retirement plan, read our article How to create a retirement plan.

What are my options for taking my pension benefits?

In this video we explain the options you'll have for accessing your pension pot. There are a few ways to take your money and there are places to get guidance and advice if you're not sure. 

On your 55th birthday, you can take the money you’ve saved in your pension pots. There are several ways you can take your money, so let’s see what these options are:

  1. Set up a guaranteed regular income. You can use your savings to buy a guaranteed income for the rest of your life – known as an annuity. There are different types of annuities and you get to choose the type you want – just for yourself; one that carries on to your spouse if you die first; one that stays at the same amount or increases over time. An annuity income may be smaller than the other options but it might be right for you if you want peace of mind of not running out of money.
  2. Take a flexible income. You can take a lump sum or regular sums from your pension pot when you want and the money left in your pot stays invested. This may give your pension more chance to grow but remember, the value of your investments can fall as well as rise and isn’t guaranteed - you may get back less than you started with.
  3. Take the whole pot. You can take part or all of you pot as cash in one go, but you should consider how much tax you’ll have to pay before doing this. It’s also worth remembering, the more you take now, the less you’ll have in the future.

You can also take a combination of these options too.

For all options, you can take the first 25% as tax free cash. The remaining 75% will be treated like your salary and you’ll be taxed at your current income tax rate when you take it.

If you feel like you don’t need to take your pension pot just yet, you don’t have to – you can leave your money where it is and take it when you need it.

Which option could be right for me?

It’s up to you how you take your money. Our Aegon Assist team can give you free expert guidance and information to help you decide what’s right for you. Whilst the team can give guidance, they can’t give advice.

Pension Wise, a service from MoneyHelper, is a free and impartial government service offering guidance about your retirement options. This service is available online at MoneyHelper, by phone on: 0800 138 3944, or face to face by appointment.

Remember, it’s important to review the options carefully and you should shop around to find the best deal before making a decision.

This information isn’t intended to be financial advice. If you’re not sure or need advice, please speak to an authorised financial adviser - who may charge you for advice.

If you don't have a financial adviser, you can visit MoneyHelper to find the right one for you.