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What is/was your attitude to pensions?

(83 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 14-Aug-12 12:20:16

This autumn, auto-enrolment starts, meaning that employers of all shapes and sizes will have to provide pension schemes and employees opt out. The people who are running one of the schemes, NEST (National Employee Savings Trust) are interested in gransnetters' attitudes to pensions.

Have you saved for retirement? Enough? Has it been a struggle? If you're retired, what kind of pension are you living on and is it adequate? Do you wish you'd done things differently? Has saving been a struggle or not? Any thoughts, really!

Nanadogsbody Tue 14-Aug-12 12:33:50

With my State Pension and work pension I'm fine. Not rich but more than enough to get by on and have treats. As for savings, even though it was hard when raising a family, we always put a liitle away. That's how we were raised.

What annoys me are those stay-at-home mums who have never, or hardly ever, worked, even when their children are at school and then moan that they don't get a full pension.

Fine, if they want opt out of work, that's their choice but jut don't expect those who have paid their contributions in full to sympathise. After all you can't have your cake and ear it.

I can hear the groans of protest already........

vampirequeen Tue 14-Aug-12 12:37:57

I am in a pension scheme which I hope will pay out early as I'll soon have to retire through ill health.

Pension schemes are a necessity these days but it's hard to pay especially if you're on a low wage because there are always pressing needs on your money so I can understand why people opt out.

But I object to being penalised for having made sacrifices for my pension. My dad paid into a scheme (they did without some luxuries to pay for it) so mum gets a small private pension as well as a state pension. She isn't entitled to any benefits and pays tax. My aunt has no pension. She and my uncle went out drinking every weekend, drove a car when it wasn't the norm and went on holiday. She gets all sorts of benefits including housing and council tax so gets as much as my mum each month. To me it seems that my mum is being punished for being thrifty.

Nanadogsbody Tue 14-Aug-12 12:43:45


glammanana Tue 14-Aug-12 12:59:56

We both paid into private pensions for years even though we would have been grateful for that extra money as the DCs where growing up,also I always paid the higher rate contribution for National Insurance so when ever I had a really good month (and there where many)in the New Homes sector I paid a considerable amount more depending on my earnings it also brought me into a higher tax bracket,in my opinion you where penalised for working hard and achieving your goals.We now have a good income which gives us a good standard of living and we can treat ourselves and DCs when necessary.What I do disagree with is the fact that now a lot of people cannot get on the work ladder through no fault of their own and will be unable to save towards their pensions in later life and the onus will then be put back on those who have contributed through their lifetime.

tanith Tue 14-Aug-12 13:15:29

I only worked in bits an pieces jobs while my children were at school so no chance to save then, but did manage to work full time for 20yrs and got a small NHS pension when I was granted ill-health retirement at 58 , that smallish pension makes all the difference between surviving and being able to pay everything and manage to run my car and have a couple of breaks away each year.. I never gave pensions a thought when I was young and divorced in my 40's . I feel very sorry for those young people who can't even get a job never mind to save or pay into a pension I dread to think how they will all cope when their time comes .

Annobel Tue 14-Aug-12 13:47:36

Your experience pretty much mirrors mine, tanith. I had a lot of part-time jobs all at the same time until we moved north and I got full-time work in further ed and my ex slung his hook! Fifteen years later, redundancy 18 months before I was due to retire, but at least I had a partial teacher's pension as well as a full state pension.

AlisonMA Tue 14-Aug-12 13:54:00

We both paid into a pension, although mine was for a much shorter time than DH's because I stayed at home to bring up the children. There were times when we really struggled but thought it was a good thing to do so continued and made savings in other things like, holidays, entertainment and even food. We have a good standard of living at the moment but some of our pensions are fixed and not inlfation proofed so we may struggle later.

I do feel that it is wrong not to include those of us who didn't get credits for the time we spent looking after our children in the new scheme where only 30 years of NICs are required.

I agree that those who saved towards a pension are penalised because they have saved. My FiL paid into a pension all his working life and was a bit better off than his neighbours who had always been out drinking and smoking. Their pensions were topped up by the state to about the same as his. That does seem to be grossly unfair.

In my last job the pension scheme was supported by the company and therefore well worth paying in to but most of the youngsters (accountants!) refused to join as they said there was no point. If they saved they would be no better off than those who didn't. I think a great many young people feel the same. Our 3 sons all pay into pension schemes but I sometimes wonder if I was right to give them that advice.

absentgrana Tue 14-Aug-12 14:03:19

I have been self-employed most of my working life so a company pension scheme wasn't an option. I did have it in mind to buy an annuity with my savings but this looks like chucking a sizeable quantity of money down the drain at the moment. Instead, I have invested in property to provide us with an income when I finally retire. (Mr absent does not have a pension either.) As far as the capital is concerned, I should at least break even and possibly make a profit should I wish to sell the houses in a few years' time when the housing market picks up, which it almost certainly will, whereas once you've bought an annuity, that's it.

Anagram Tue 14-Aug-12 18:48:39

I'm one of those who never worried about a pension, I just assumed that the state pension would be enough to live on, I suppose, when I started work. I have never been in a job which offered its own scheme, and if I hadn't married OH, who has a reasonable Company pension, then I would just have had to survive on the state pension. I would at least have paid off my mortgage by now and would never have learned to drive, so would use my bus pass, and as I've never been used to exotic holidays I think I'd have been OK!

Nonu Tue 14-Aug-12 18:53:57

I"ve never worried about a pension , why should I ? DH gets an index linked , so with that and the state pension we do okay, we cut our cloth according to our means , know what I mean grin

Annobel Tue 14-Aug-12 19:09:01

Had not my ex done a runner I would by now be financially very secure as he had a very senior role in the education world. But I would be very miserable and so would he. Better that his second missus gets the security and I get to be myself, albeit considerably poorer.

Ella46 Tue 14-Aug-12 19:16:35

Annobel Every cloud has a silver lining! grin

crimson Tue 14-Aug-12 19:22:38

I wanted to wave goodbye to my children when they left for school and then be there at home waiting for them when they returned home in the evening. I wanted to be with them during the school holidays. I put a lot of time and effort into helping and encouraging them with their school work and anything else in their life that required my time and help [and loved every minute of it]. I didn't have a career so it would have cost me as much to pay someone else to look after them during the school holidays as I was earning and I didn't particularly want someone else looking after them. It was a complete shock to me when, after 30 years my husband left me for another woman. Although I had done part time work that fitted in with the childrens school times I didn't get a pension from it. I shall receive a small pension from the divorce settlement [something that, 10 years ago, I hadn't realised would be so important to me now] and shall get a full state pension next year thanks to my childcaring years being taken into consideration and I am most thankful for that. The 'pension' from the part time work that I've done for the past 18 years will probably pay out £1,000 a year. I regard the time and input into my childrens formative years as being far more important than doing a paid job. I didn't have posh holidays and bought a lot of clothes from charity shops. I never thought of myself during those years as some sort of social scrounger and I'm proud of the fact that I was there for them, never dreaming that I would be divorced by the time I reached retirement age. I've never forgotten overhearing one woman in a doctors waiting room one morning say to the person next to her that her child would have to be ok as she had to go to work.

artygran Tue 14-Aug-12 19:54:10

DH was in the Forces, and so I never had a chance to do much about a pension. When we were out of the country, which was often, the opportunities to work were few and far between. I worked where I could, mostly part time, until we came back to live in this country permanently, then, eventually, I got to work full time, but like Anagram, I never had a job which offered a pension scheme. I did not build up enough contributions to have a full state pension. DH has a decent indexed linked service pension and also a couple of small company pensions and so we don't struggle by any means. We also managed to save a decent sum to supplement our retirement, which, to date, we have not needed to dip into, so it is still invested (not that it's making much at the moment). In fact, from what we get in pensions, we are still able to save a little. If DH shuffles off before me, I would have a proportion of his pensions, but would probably have to fall back on the savings. We have a mortgage free house so that gives some peace of mind. Our kids put money into company pension schemes, but with investments what they are today and for the foreseeable future, who knows what they will be worth when they eventually get the chance to retire.

Hankipanki Tue 14-Aug-12 21:49:19

I never thought much about saving for a pension when I was younger I was too busy putting food on the table for my children and shoes on their feet. Although I have always worked, mainly part time I have never had a career or worked for an employer who offered a company pension scheme. Nor do I get a full state pension. Fortunately Mr hp has an index linked pension, not a lot, but enough to ensure that we are comfortable. We did manage to save a little for our retirement but not until the children had left home and were independent. We also finished our mortgage well before we retired so do not have to find housing costs. This last factor I am very grateful for because it makes the difference between being comfortable and struggling. I think that having to pay a mortgage/rent out of our pensions would really challenge us. I don't worry about the future because whatever happens we/I will cope. We don't drink or smoke or have expensive holidays although we do have a good life.

Could we have done things differently? Well no I think we did the best we could. We put our childrens welfare first in the early years and then when we were able we saved some and we spent some on enjoyable experiences.

Retirement has been a pleasant surprise in that we find we need far less to live on than people such as pension companies would have us believe.

merlotgran Tue 14-Aug-12 22:35:10

You're right, Hankipanki. I was pleasantly surprised how little we need to live on now that we no longer work. confused True, we live in a modest house in the middle of nowhere but we now only need one car and plan our shopping/medical appointments/visiting friends and family trips to make the most economical use of petrol. We work hard at being self-sufficient and do not have to buy wood for the stove, eggs, vegetables and soon (hopefully) chicken for the freezer. We also prefer short breaks to holidays.
Our pensions are modest but we seem to be better off than when we were working ourselves silly.

janeainsworth Tue 14-Aug-12 23:07:31

As a former employer I feel rather cynical about these new compulsory pensions. I remember when Stakeholder pensions came in and we had to go through a great rigmarole of setting them up, getting someone in to explain to the employees what it was all about, and guess what, none of the employees wanted one.
National Insurance was supposed to provide pensions and healthcare, but now it is just another form of taxation. I fear that these new pensions will be used as an excuse to make the State pension less generous.
On a personal note, I have been pleasantly surprised that we are still reasonably comfortable with our various pensions. However, I am also aware that were it not for Gordon Brown's depredations, (taxing dividends on pension funds, and forcing pension providers to sell their equities at the worst possible time) the annuity I bought with my private pension would be more generous.

Granny23 Tue 14-Aug-12 23:43:10

I had eight years 'at home' when the DD's were young, unfortunately this was before you could claim NI credits for these years. I was also disappointed to discover that they do not count the working years from 15 to 18, (when we paid a young person's stamp) towards your final pension so I do not have a full state pension. Although I worked for 8.5 years for one of the big banks I have no pension entitlement as the first 3 years were a probationery period and the last 5 I was deemed to be 'temporary staff' because I was a married woman!

DH was self employed so we started a small personal pension for him when the children were born and later took out a bigger one when I was working and we could afford it. A chance reading of an article in a newspaper alerted me that some pensions did not pay out to the widow if the man died before retirement and on checking I discovered that both DH's pensions were like that, so at 50 I started my own pension with a lump sum from my share of the sale of my parent,s wee flat. I worked for 25 years in the voluntary sector and it was only in my last 3 years that there were any pension contributions from my employer.

Our pension funds were growing so slowly (thank you Gordon Brown) that when my DH's endowment matured, we invested it in a small flat which has been rented out ever since and supplies more income than our 3 private pensions combined. Funnily enough the small pension which DH started in 1970 pays out exactly the same amount per month as the later larger (6x££ per month) one. We have just enough to still be paying income tax and do not get any additional benefits.

Like others above we have found we need far less income in retirement than we expected. Our planned holidays abroad have been shelved for various reasons including the cost of travel insurance - sometimes more than the cost of an off season late deal! We manage fine with one car between us and as for the house, if we cannot DIY it just does not get done. We have never been well off, are used to being thrifty and making do and mending, so we feel that we are quite comfortable and have a bit to spare to lavish on the DGC. No complaints here.

Joan Wed 15-Aug-12 01:49:45

I worked most of my life except for 8 years of child rearing - well, even then I worked as a family day care provider. I paid my stamp in the UK and paid my taxes, quite heavy ones, here in Australia, as did my husband. Our two sons pay taxes now, of course. They both work in necessary jobs (teacher and electrician) and both served in the armed forces - one is still in the reserves. Their Dad is ex-forces too.

The way I see it, part of our taxes went to pay people's pensions back then, so we have a moral right to a pension ourselves now. With a small amount from the UK (about 50 pounds a week between us ) our Australian state pension is enough to be comfortable on.

I am more than happy for the government to run pension schemes like this, and it is great that some people have private pensions too. I cannot understand resentment against either paying taxes and contributions, or against people receiving state pensions. I trust the government more than private financial services, who have a profit motive.

I hear moans about old people costing the government too much, and about 'a culture of entitlement'.

Well, I feel we are fully entitled to what the government pays us. We have paid our dues to society.

Ariadne Wed 15-Aug-12 05:40:48

I never thought much about pensions when I started teaching when the DC went to school - I had never wanted any other job. But, as I approached retirement, I did realise how fortunate I was as far as a pension was concerned, though I did work myself almost to a standstill most of the time.

DH has his army pension and a pension from his second career, so we are comfortably off. And we have saved, even when it was hard to do so - no holidays abroad etc. when there were five of us.

Two of my children are teachers, and I know they will have to work far longer, and just as hard, as I did. I can't imagine doing my job now, at 66, but they'll have to do theirs. (I woke up this morning at 5.15, which is when the alarm used to wake us ready to hit the road!)

Nanadogsbody Wed 15-Aug-12 07:44:39

As a relative new-comer to GN, or at least to posting on forums, I wonder if we represent a true cross section of older people? Firstly we all have children, and grandchildren, so we have family.

(Incidentally who is this DH that I keep hearing mentioned? Is he a multiple bigamist, as so many of you seem to be married to him?)

I have a couple of unmarried friends who are in great financial difficulties now that they have retired, having only their state pension and a very small work pension to support themselves. One of them was unable to pay her mortgage, had the house re-possessed, and now struggles with a monthly rent.

While I really struggle to sympathise with the 'something for nothing' culture that exists in certainly families, I understand we cannot leave them to starve or without a roof over their heads. Yet, neither of my friends are eligible for benefits even though they do struggle to heat their houses and feed themselves.

I think it's so true what Ariadne and a couple of others have hinted at. When we are young we do not think of getting old and needing pensions, when we are struggling to bring up our families as best we can (and yes, crimson us working mums do care for our children), we are often too busy to consider the future, then's there!

My heart really bleeds for all those young people, my own son for example, who are trying to be responsible and pouring money into their private pension funds which will not be paying out as hoped for. So as Joan says, if there is a better solution and the government is trying to find it I would support that.

Littlenellie Wed 15-Aug-12 08:18:53

Like a few of you a pension never entered my head,my then DH had a secure job,and a good pension and I would be taken care of if he should die ....I was at home with the children and where always hard up and struggled with a mortgage etc ..never having holidays or going out,making our social life revolve around the home,I returned to work doing part time and bit jobs,no career,the last one being for a big company,and at 40 started to pay into a pension for myself ,then life as it has a habit of doing got in the way,our marriage broke down, we lost Kate,and I became a "parent" all over again,I'll health meant that I was unable to work again,my small pension,has been taken early as it all helps with a child to provide for,my pension forecast is not good..less than a quarter of state pension my partner ..20 years younger gave up work to care for me and E so he has no pension provision..heis a full time student planning to go back to work in the next year when he has finished his 60 this year I am planning to rejoin the workforce as a domicilliary E is approaching 14.So I really don't know what will happen,I have taken out a sizeable insurance should I fall off the perch..and when we are earning will provide OH who is approaching 40 with a pension plan he will be ok also if I shuffle off....that is the plan,,but life turns round and bites your bum sometimes,so the best laid plans etc......

Annobel Wed 15-Aug-12 08:44:18

When I went abroad to teach, an old family friend, a retired teacher, warned me to keep my pension contributions going. I dismissed her as an old fogey but now I am one and I know she was right. But you can't teach a young dog old tricks.

janeainsworth Wed 15-Aug-12 08:46:05

Nanadogsbody I'm new to GN too, and I think you're quite right, we don't represent a true section of older people - we're a self-selected group who are relatively computer-literate, and vocal in our opinions! Most of my friends think I'm mad.
I think it's much harder for the younger generation - we have benefited from the massive house price rises between 1970 and 2000 so that it's now much harder for them to buy their own homes, then if the grandchildren want to go to university it will cost many thousands of pounds. We are in our first year of full retirement so 'seeing how things go' financially (so far so good) but I would like to be able to help them to save for the future.
If I was in their shoes, I would be putting money into ISAs rather than pensions.