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Can you manage on just a state pension ?

(167 Posts)
Sandytoes Mon 01-Mar-21 19:59:26

My DH and I both have a very poor family health history and Covid has impacted negatively on both our jobs . We are considering early retirement using our small pension pots / savings to take us through to state pension age . The amount with be equivalent to two state pensions and we would have a small amount of savings set aside for replacement of items. We are mortgage free but house not big enough to downsize and release equity . Of course we wouldnt be entitled to any additional benefits such as bus pass or winter fuel allowance and live rurally so would need to run a car . We would need to do this for just over 6 years until we get our state pensions and DH gets additional small occupational pension . I would like to hear the views of anyone who lives on this amount to see if it maybe doable for us . I appreciate that everyone has different outgoings, but it would be a guide .

avitorl Mon 01-Mar-21 20:08:27

My advice would be to add up all of your outgoing payments now,deduct them from the income you expect to have and then consider if it could work for you financially.
Only you can really answer this as one person's luxuries may be considered essentials by others.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 01-Mar-21 20:18:31

Check how much tax you will have to pay if you cash in your Private Pensions (if any). You can phone them and ask how much pension you can expect either as a lump sum or as Draw Down.
Go through all of your bank statements, credit card statements for the last year and just see how much you spend each month, only you know whether your pension and savings will cover it and where you can make savings if necessary.

Sandytoes Mon 01-Mar-21 20:21:18

Thanks, avitorl , we have done this and think we can cover all the basics by living quite simply ( which we do anyway ).but I just wanted to know what the realityand experience of this over several years may be . At the moment it seems very tempting but I wouldnt want to face a " heat or eat " dilemma . I dont think it would be easy to find part time work at our age but that would of course help.

midgey Mon 01-Mar-21 20:21:47

Be very careful as there won’t always be two pensions. The unforeseen could be a potential nightmare.

Sandytoes Mon 01-Mar-21 20:29:40

Thanks midgey , that's a sad but true thought . Most of our" early retirement income" before state pension age would be from joint savings or pension pot which can be inherited but agree in the future when this has been depleted there may only be one state pension plus a little savings to live on .

OlderthanIthink Mon 01-Mar-21 20:30:05

You're making yourselves very vulnerable if you do this.
Can you take a middle ground and work maybe 3 more years (perhaps both part time), saving as much as you can into your pensions during this time? The state pension really isn't much, although with no rent or mortgage you're in a better position than many.

avitorl Mon 01-Mar-21 20:46:17

You may find it easier to find part time jobs than you think but it does depend on where you live and what you are willing to do.I have a male neighbour ,in his 70's,who found a job in a shop at his age.
My Gardener is 76 and still fit and enjoying life.
Check out if there are any possible jobs in your area and see how you would feel about doing them.
Try and live on your possible income for a year and see how it goes.This would also increase your savings pot at the same time.
If you are stressed/unhappy at work leaving can make a huge difference to your quality of life.I had to give up work early and have managed ok financially and have lived a much happier life than I would have done if I'd continued working.

Sandytoes Mon 01-Mar-21 20:48:19

Yes , Older , this is my worry too . I started my pension a little late and always expected that this would just top up my state pension at 60 but it's now 67 for me and 66.5 for DH . However my other worry is like a lot of our family we will die before retirement age or retire in poor health and we will regret not leaving work while we can .

Sandytoes Mon 01-Mar-21 20:53:32

Would definitely look for something part time, avitor and looking at outgoings it seems we would manage fine but it is nice to get an opinion from those who live on or around this amount, as a couple , as the reality may be less enjoyable.

Grannynannywanny Mon 01-Mar-21 20:54:26

Sandytoes my sole income has been state pension for the past 8 months. I pay my household bills for gas, electricity, home insurances, etc by monthly direct debit. This leaves me approx £70 a week for food, petrol and and any other expenses that might arise. There have been a few months I haven’t managed to break even due to a car bill or a roofer to repair a leak.

It all depends on your lifestyle. I haven’t bought new clothes in over a year. Thanks to covid there’s been no holiday, lunches or coffees out. Every cloud!

So I’d say yes it’s doable if you are careful with the pennies and have a little in reserve for those unexpected emergencies.

OlderthanIthink Mon 01-Mar-21 20:56:42

Don't think leaving work is the be-all and end-all. While it seems attractive, there's no guarantee retirement will bring fulfilment and happiness, especially if you're skint!

It depends how much you dislike your job and remember it's always easier to find a new job while you're still employed.
Think about exactly how your life would be post-retirement on a limited income.

Would you have the money to enjoy socialising and maybe hobbies? A sense of purpose is still important in retirement and it's common to see retirees health worsen if they don't have these sorts of things in their lives.

Volunteering can be a cost-neutral way of ensuring social contact and a sense of purpose.

Millie22 Mon 01-Mar-21 21:30:39

I've been in a similar situation recently and my DH was working part time but has now retired early due to ill health last year. It's hard to assess how much money you need as everyone's situation is different. We spent ages trying to work out the best solution and got some help from a pension adviser. Hopefully after covid there will be more part time job opportunities as managing on a state pension alone would be challenging.

Urmstongran Mon 01-Mar-21 22:12:24

Could you perhaps pretend you’re retired and live for a while on what you would have each week (or month) and see how it feels for you?

Dinahmo Mon 01-Mar-21 22:35:22

My OH and I each receive the state pension plus small private pensions. I am still working (aged 74) because I fear we would live quite meagre lives without my income. We have had two periods in our lives when we had no money for extras, We've always been used to going to the cinema, or concerts and occasionally buying books and records. We could do none of that. I would hate to be in that position again. We don't have expensive tastes and, like many other people, we are saving money because we're not going out.
I'm lucky that I can work and also lucky that I enjoy it.

It is a difficult decision to make - my father died when he was 55 but my mother received a reduced employment pension and a widow's pension until she reached 60. This did affect my thinking when I was younger and didn't think so much about the future. Now I've outlived them both and am trying to make sure that we live at more than the subsistence level.

JenniferEccles Mon 01-Mar-21 22:37:39

It is said that the vast majority of people massively underestimate how much money they will need in retirement, along with how long they are likely to live. Most of us these days are expected to live well into our eighties and beyond in a lot of cases.

You say you have a family history of poor health but does that include you and your husband?
If you are reasonably fit I would say it would be a very bad idea to give up work prematurely.

The State pension was never intended to be the sole income for retirees, just a top up, so if that was all you had to live on, you would be very limited in what sort of retirement you had.

This is exactly the time of our lives to treat ourselves to nice holidays, meals out, and to generally be able to spend money on things which make us happy.

Gwyneth Tue 02-Mar-21 00:03:46

It’s worth noting that living costs such as utility bills usually increase rather than decrease and pension increases rarely cover the extra income needed. Try to factor this into your calculations as well.

FarNorth Tue 02-Mar-21 03:42:45

If desperate, you could release some equity from your home while still living in it.
If you get a Lifetime Mortgage, you repay interest-only on it so the amount owed doesn't increase.
You could maybe have a look into that, just so that you're aware of what's possible.

vegansrock Tue 02-Mar-21 05:26:16

jennifereccles the state pension wasn’t originally intended as a “top up”, it was intended as a minimum amount to live on, as in its inception few workers would have a private pension. As the state pension has remained at a low level ( the lowest in Europe) people have had to take out private pensions, so many do see their state pension as “ pocket money”.. I agree it would be impossible to live a lifestyle which involved holidays, home improvements, many leisure activities etc if one only had the state pension to rely on.

nanna8 Tue 02-Mar-21 05:36:42

I couldn't stand it. You have worked all your lives and deserve better.

Sandytoes Tue 02-Mar-21 07:47:53

Thank you to all for your thoughts . Our income would be approximately £1400 per month with no rent or mortgage. Our outgoings and average monthly spend are just under this at present and we have lived on a much higher budget when ACs were small. Our hobbies are very low cost .. camping, walking , gardening etc . We thought it would be manageable but from your experiences it seems it may be difficult in the long term . Currently thinking early retirement with some part time work( if we could find it ) would be the best option for us .

Riverwalk Tue 02-Mar-21 08:04:46

How many years NI contributions do you both have? If you give up work now, six years before Government pension age, you might not get a full pension.

Sandytoes Tue 02-Mar-21 08:43:40

Hi River walk , fortunately we have both worked since the age of 16 and will have full state pensions . ( have obtained pension forecasts ).

3dognight Tue 02-Mar-21 10:12:52

We manage on just over £1000 a month.
No rent or mortgage. Small amount of savings we have usually remains untouched, we run an old Volvo, have hobbies, dogs, but we don't do much that costs much money.
I was made redundant two years ago, at 62, and decided we would try to manage until I got to 66 and my state pension came through. It IS possible to do, and you will worry about it beforehand, I think once you have committed to it you will be fine, but that is dependant on how much you miss spending on treats and luxuries. In this I include new clothes, make up, hair dresser, bits and bobs for the home, buying others nice presents, etc. I would feel quite well off to have £1400 a month to be honest!

My best tip would be cook from scratch, and let your freezer be your friend, to make the most of bulk buys and bargains.
Once every six weeks or so, run freezer right down, this will probably give you a week without shopping bills, albeit you may have some strange meals.

For my mental health and wellbeing being made redundant and making the decision not to look for work has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Whatever you decide good luck!!

Casdon Tue 02-Mar-21 10:19:33

It depends a lot on whether you already have a savings fund specifically for house maintenance and repairs and replacing household goods and other items I think. Things seem to have a habit of going wrong. My financial guy told me before I retired to always have about £20k readily accessible, and to make sure that it could be topped up from living expenses when I used any of it. Also make sure you keep insurance payments up to date. Otherwise I think you’ll be worrying about what needs to be done that you can’t afford.