The Consumer Lawyer

Preparation is the secret to a happy retirement

warren shute

By Warren Shute @warrenshute

Not surprisingly, I’m a big believer in planning. That’s especially true when it comes to the golden years of our retirement. But will those years really be golden, or more like copper?!

I am in the fortunate position to have met and shared the retirement plans of thousands of couples over my 25 years as a financial planner. That work has shown me some patterns, things people have had in common to help them enjoy a successful, vibrant retirement.

You can benefit from that experience, and plan ahead to help make your retirement the best years of your life.

Know your number

How much will you need to have saved so that you can enjoy a comfortable retirement?

I call this your number, and it’s unique to you, because it depends entirely on your retirement plans.

You can calculate your number by writing down all the things you expect to spend in your retirement years. That may seem difficult, but if you break it down into a plan, it will become clearer.

Some costs you’ll know, like utilities. Others you’ll need to estimate. And this is where those patterns come in.

Life’s chapters

In my book The Money Plan I refer to the three chapters of our retirement.

In your first chapter of c.10 years, you’ll likely be more active and want to travel more often and further afield – play out your bucket list – so you’ll spend more.

The second chapter often begins around 75 and typically sees much less travel, or at least less long-haul, which has the effect of reducing costs.

When we approach the third chapter, from around age 85 onwards, expenditure is more about getting around. Do we keep a car or not? Medical spending is very often the overriding cost.

Once you’ve added up all your projected costs, you can plan your monthly budget. Get a free downloadable spreadsheet at to help.

Do you have enough?

To cover these costs, you will have a mixture of your state pension and any private pensions. Request updated statements to see where you are now.

If you have enough now, you could ask why do you continue to work? If you’re short, calculate how long would it take me to meet the shortfall? To estimate this, you can use the rule of 300: multiply how much you’re short each month by 300 to see how much more you need to save. So, if you need an extra £200pm, you need to target an additional £60,000 in your pension (200×300).

Start planning your retirement now – not just by knowing your number and saving, but by deciding, how will you live the rest of your life? We only get one chance at life, so make it count.

Big Save – 5 things you need to know

Retirement planning isn’t just about knowing your number and the rule of 300 – for a happy retirement, you need to think about more than just your pension pot.

  1. What exercise can you do to keep yourself physically fit and healthy, and what activities can you do to keep socially engaged? Good mental health is just as important.
  2. Is your current home appropriate for your later years? Consider downsizing in your 60s-70s while you’re still mobile and social, so you can potentially meet new friends.
  3. Consider how you will get around when you stop driving.
  4. Plan for the worst and expect the best, arrange your Lasting Powers of Attorney early.
  5. Don’t leave a liability to others: sort out your will without any excuses.



Recent work on overdrafts by the FCA found that unarranged overdrafts were regularly 10 times as high as fees from payday loans.  New rules that came into effect by April 2020 were supposed to address this, although the FCA has not seen a significant reduction in cost, they have said the charges are more transparent.

Rishi Sunak announced a Green Homes Grant which will take the form of ‘vouchers’ providing at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy efficient, up to £5000 per household.  For those on the lowest incomes the scheme will fully fund up to £10000 per household.  Homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers from September.


  1. I have about £8k which I was planning to invest prior to the lockdown and have been waiting to see what happens, what should I do?

When you invest you always need to ensure you know why you’re investing? How long you will invest for (allowing at least a rolling 5 years) and how much the investment can fall, because it will, before you feel uncomfortable. Then, look for low cost global index funds which match your risk profile.

2. When can I access my pension fund?

There are many different types of pensions, you can access your personal pension fund, known as a defined contribution pension from age 55. If you are a member of a final salary pension, known as a defined benefit pension the scheme will have a ‘normal retirement age’ accessing the scheme before this age often incurs a penalty. Finally, you can access your state pension from your state retirement age – all three could be different.

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