Pensions

Christmas crackers - 6 of 2020's most popular and helpful stories

Simon Lyle

We’ve pulled together six of our favourite stories from 2020 featuring tips and guidance that can help you bound into the new year with some confidence in your financial future. From tidying up your finances and tracking down missing pensions to getting on top of your tax and understanding the State Pension – consider us your financial festive helpers.

After a challenging year, wouldn’t it be a welcome gift this Christmas to be able to forget a few money worries and head into 2021 feeling optimistic? Here are half a dozen of our most popular and helpful articles from the past year. We’re confident there are some tips and ideas that could help you boost your future finances, whatever your age and stage.

1. What you need to know about the State Pension and how it’s changing

Nearly 80,000 people have read our State Pension article this year – making it the year’s most popular. On its own the State Pension will provide a very basic lifestyle. For many people there will be a big gap between what it will cover and what they actually want in retirement. However, it’s important to know what you can expect from it, and when you can claim it. Then you can factor this into your wider plans for life after work.

There have been big changes to the State Pension in recent years, including when you’ll receive it. If you haven’t checked in a while, our article, The State Pension – here’s what you need to know can help. It covers how much you’ll get, how to make up for any gaps in your work history, how registering for child benefit can help and the next changes coming down the line.

2. A good time for our top tax tips

We may be speeding towards the end of the calendar year (and a lot of us will be welcoming 2021 with open arms!), but the good news is that there are several months before the end of the financial year in April.

Top tax tips to make the most of your pension savings can help you get ahead of the game. We explain how tax relief works and how saving as much as you can into your pension could help maximise your income in retirement.

Bear in mind that your pension is invested and the value of investments can go down as well as up and could be worth less than what was paid in.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to tax and your pension plan and you don’t want to pay more tax than you need to. Understanding your pension savings annual allowance and how making pension contributions can affect your tax-free personal allowance could make a big difference.

Laws and tax rules can change and your tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and where you live in the UK.

3. A gift for your future self – making the most of your pension plan

For those starting out on their saving journey, we’ve covered the basics too. If you’re thinking of your long-term financial future, having a pension plan is a great start. But understanding your pension and taking whatever steps you can to make the most of it can really help to give you confidence in that future.

In Get to know your pension and how to make the most of it we set out in five simple steps what your pension can do for you and what you can do for it. If you’re just starting out, perhaps getting to grips with your first workplace pension plan, we answer a lot of those important questions that you may not be sure about. Like how it works, who pays in, how much you’ll need and what tax breaks it can offer.

4. Tracking down a lost pension could be a welcome surprise

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but it can also be the most expensive time too. So if there’s any way to be reunited with money you’ve saved into a pension but lost track of, it’s got to be worth investigating.

There are billions of pounds lying in lost and dormant pensions, worth an estimated average of £13,000 each. It’s easy to lose track of pension plans if you’ve changed jobs several times and picked up several new workplace pension plans. But the good news is that it’s just as easy to track them down and find your hard-earned money. Our article ‘Lost’ pensions. How to find yours talks you through the process in simple steps.

5. Lessons to learn from a turbulent year

When we look back on 2020, there’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic will be what most of us remember.

We’ve felt its impact in so many aspects of our lives, not least financially. Whole industries have shut down, with many jobs lost and turbulence in the financial markets. We know many of our customers were worried when they saw the value of pension plans and investments fall earlier this year.

No doubt, there will be more economic fallout to come, but there are steps we can take with our own finances to try and give ourselves some peace of mind. In Investment lessons we can learn from the pandemic, Standard Life’s investment expert, Gareth Trainor shares his thoughts on how to help make sure you and your pension plan and investments are prepared if significant market falls happen again.

6. A time to stop, take stock and get planning

It’s a MoneyPlus mantra that it’s never too early to start preparing for your retirement. And hopefully that’s hitting home as our article Choosing the right investment options on the road to retirement and beyond was in this year’s top 10 most read.

If you’re planning to use the holidays to take stock and put some plans in place we explain how important it is to make sure your pension money is invested in a way that fits with your plans.

And when you’re ready to start taking your pension money we cover what you need to aware of and what you need to think about if you decide to keep your money invested while in retirement.

 

The information here is based on our understanding in December 2020 and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice. If you’re unsure and need financial advice, speak to a financial adviser. There is likely to be a cost for advice.