pensions: what to do if you haven't got one

If you haven't got a pension, you could be worried about how you're going to afford to live when you retire. Here we discuss what your options are if you don't have a pension to fall-back on during retirement.

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According to the Pension Policy Institute, not enough people are saving enough money to comfortably retire. It's something we're familiar with here at caba, with lots of people coming to us for advice on managing their debts and finances overall during retirement. 

Not having access to a company pension or being unsure about which pension package to invest in, as well as simply not having enough money to set aside each month, are among some of the reasons why people retire without the comfort of having a pension pot behind them. 

Other reasons for not having a pension include: 

  • being self-employed or unemployed 
  • living on a reduced income (working part-time) 
  • going bankrupt at some stage in your life 
  • experiencing health issues that prevent you from working and/or preparing for retirement 
  • requiring care or are caring for someone else 
  • supporting dependent children in later life 

how much do you need to save for a pension? 

One formula that's often used by financial experts to determine how much you should be paying into your pension pot is:

When you start saving for your pension, halve your age, then use that number as the percentage of your salary you should aim to save each year.  

This means that if you start saving for retirement at the age of 20, you should aim to be saving 10% of your annual income towards your pension. If you start when you are 30, the figure will increase to 15%, and so on. 

Creating a pension planning checklist will enable you to think about and plan for the retirement lifestyle you want vs. your financial commitments. The cost of your home (e.g. your mortgage repayments), your partner’s expenses and energy bills are among the factors that form part of this important equation. 

Our handy pension calculator will help you work out your State Pension age, predicted income and retirement age.

try it out

what should you do if you haven’t got a pension?  

If you’re approaching retirement age and are worried about your financial situation, there are several steps you can take, including these three:  

review your situation 

It’s important you acknowledge that your situation is going to change. At the same time, it’s equally important you use the time leading up to your retirement to examine the impact it will have on you financially. 

Remember, the state pension is available to everyone. If you’ve failed to meet your minimal National Insurance contributions, you will be given a basic state pension of £130 that can be topped up. Use our benefits calculator to review how much state pension you are entitled to receive and identify any additional benefits you may be able to apply for.

reduce your outgoings 

Living on less money inevitably means you will have to review your lifestyle. Even small savings in your expenditure will contribute to an overall reduction in outgoings. We have some great budgeting tools to help you get into sensible spending habits and manage your money more wisely.

continue to work 

More people than ever are choosing to work instead of retiring, with the number of working people aged between 60 to 75 having increased by more than 7% since 2001. Indeed, 28% of the UK working population are currently aged 50 or over. According to Government figures, the average age of the UK labour market exit has increased over the past two decades. In 2000, the average age of exit for men was 63.3-years-old, increasing to 65.2-years-old in 2020, an increase of 1.9 years. During the same time period, in 2000, the average age of exit for women was 61.2-years-old, increasing to 64.3-years-old in 2020, an increase of 3.1 years. 

The advantage of delaying taking your pension is that the longer you delay, the more your state pension will be worth when you do take it. According to The Money Advice Service, for every nine weeks that you defer taking your state pension, it increases by 1%. So if you defer by a year, you’ll boost your pension by 5.8%.  

how we can help 

We're here to support ACA students, existing or former ICAEW members or their close family dependents. Whatever your financial worries, big or small, you’re not alone.

If you need help to pay for essential living expenses such as mortgage or rental payments and even ICAEW membership fees, we may be able to assist. Read more about the financial support we offer to help you manage the increasing cost of living.

As an independent charity, we don’t disclose any of the information you share with us to the ICAEW or your employer. 

Get in touch today to see how we can help you.


your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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