Uncomfortable money topics and why it can be good to talk about them

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Kirsty Kerr

November 03, 2021

5 mins read

New Standard Life research has revealed the topics that we’re most uncomfortable talking about when it comes to retirement. With Talk Money Week highlighting the physical, mental and financial benefits of opening up about money we have some ideas to help you tackle some of the trickiest topics from running out of money to leaving an inheritance.

More than a quarter of people would be uncomfortable talking with loved ones about becoming ill or dying, according to a survey of nearly 5,000 people by Standard Life. Our study, Bringing retirement into focus, also found that people don’t want to talk about not having enough money to live on, loneliness and making inheritance plans but the most uncomfortable topics vary across ages, gender and income levels.

What our findings show  

Overall we found that women and younger generations were the most uncomfortable talking about various aspects of retirement. Gen Zers (aged 18-24) and Millennials (aged 25-40), in particular, found topics like feeling lonely and their own death the most difficult to talk about.
Gen Xers (aged 40-56) expressed the same concerns, but they were also the most uncomfortable of all the generations when talking about not having enough money to live on in retirement (28%).

Lower income earners were more concerned talking about not having enough to live on (30%), becoming ill (30%) or needing care (26%). And those who said they had done a great deal of planning or thinking about their retirement were more comfortable talking about almost every topic than those who had done little or no planning.

How talking can help

Our findings highlight just how common it is for people from all walks of life to avoid talking about important topics. But talking can help improve your physical, mental and financial wellbeing according to the organisers of Talk Money Week, which falls in November and encourages people to talk more openly about money and other difficult topics. So now could be a perfect time to tackle these big topics head on and take some steps to feel better about your future. 

Retirement worries like running out of money and leaving money for loved ones were two key areas highlighted in our research. But these are both topics where taking some simple steps can help you to feel more confident and prepared about your financial future. Here’s what you can do.

1. Retirement worries 

If you have concerns related to your retirement such as not having enough money to live on, needing to pay for care for yourself or a loved one or even choosing the right investments then there are some steps you can take to give yourself peace of mind.

Try discussing your worries more openly with friends, loved ones or a professional. It can sometimes be uncomfortable, but Talk Money Week suggests people who talk about money tend to make better and less risky financial decisions, have stronger personal relationships, help their children form good money habits and feel more in control. So don’t shy away from approaching these topics with your loved ones. It might help to hear another person’s perspective, or even learn from other’s experiences.

More practically, you can ease some of those concerns by taking some steps to make sure you’re confident that your retirement plans are in good shape. Our research found that those who had done a great deal of planning for retirement were much less likely to be uncomfortable talking about not having enough money to live on in retirement (16%) compared to those who had done little or no planning (32%). Plus we found 89% of planners were enjoying retirement, compared to 78% of non-planners, showing that confidence and knowledge can be key.

If you haven’t made a plan yet, our retirement guides are a good place to start to make sure you’ve covered all the basics. If you’re a Standard Life customer and you’re ready to access your pension pot now or in a few years but are unsure of your options, you can also join one of our retirement planning webinars to help you make the right choices for your future. Find out more and register on our Retirement Webinar web page.  

You should also make sure you’re regularly reviewing your pension investments so you know they’re suited to your goals and are doing what you’d expect. You can check on your Standard Life pension investments by logging in or registering online or through our mobile app.

The type of investments you want to be in will most likely change throughout your life, but if you’re nearing retirement there are some important questions you need to consider. Find out what they are in our article How to choose the right retirement investment options

Next, check on your progress. You can use our pension calculator to see how much you might have in the future. If you find you aren’t where you thought you’d be right now, that’s okay. The important thing is to understand where you are compared to where you want to be. Then you can take steps to bridge the gap if you need to. If it feels like you still have a long way to go, you might want to consider topping up your pension contributions. You can top up your Standard Life pension contributions online. Remember the value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than was paid in.

Finally, get your knowledge up to scratch. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to plan for retirement when you understand things like how your pension plan and investments work, what your options are and how to make the most of your pension plan. You can find loads of information in our pension and retirement guides and tools on our website.

2. Leaving money for your loved ones

Our findings show the importance people place on providing for family, with 79% of participants saying family was the most important thing to them. Yet, according to research commissioned by the charity Will Aid, 49% of people don’t have a Will in place. And out of those surveyed, 20% of people have put off getting a Will because they don’t want to think about death.

But take a moment to consider the practical, emotional and financial benefits creating a Will could have. Facing this uncomfortable topic head on could give you the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of when you’re gone. 

Every November Will Aid encourages solicitors to waive their free for writing a basic Will and invites people to make a voluntary donation to charity instead. If you have a Will already, it may be a timely reminder to update it with your adviser, or make the time to have one drawn up. If you’re not sure where to begin, Money Helper has lots of useful information on how to make a Will. 

Passing on your pension savings

When it comes to passing on your pension savings, not many people realise that a Will doesn’t normally cover what should happen to them. Pension plans can be a tax efficient way to pass on money to your loved ones, so it’s important you know what you can do to make sure your pension savings end up where you intend them to.

Your pension provider will ultimately decide where your pension savings go. But they will take into account if you have specified the people and causes that you want to receive it – also known as your beneficiaries.

The process for naming your beneficiaries can vary. You might need to request a Beneficiary Nomination form from your pension provider. Or you may be able to name and update beneficiaries online, as you can with some Standard Life pensions by logging in or using our app. If you haven't already, you can register for online services here.

Looking for more insights?

We cover many more interesting retirement insights in our recent study Bringing retirement into focus. You can also read our article What retirees wish they’d known where we explore the things retirees told us they wish they’d known about retirement and give you some tips on what you can learn from their hindsight.

The information here is based on our understanding in November 2021 and shouldn't be taken as financial advice.

If you’re looking for help with any of these topics it would be worth speaking to a financial adviser. There is likely to be a charge for this.



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