Traditionally retirement planning always focused on just pensions, but there are many ways to achieve an income and lifestyle in retirement and pension planning is just one of them.

The experts say the ideal time to start putting money into a pension pot is soon as you start earning. That said most of us don’t live in an ideal world – so is there anything we can do if we’ve left things late?

We all know that paying into a pension plan is a good idea. Few of us can rely on a job-for-life employers pension scheme, and living on a state pension is not an appealing prospect especially as the age to receive one is being stretched again. However with student loans to repay, the cost of getting on the property ladder and then the expense of a family, many of us put off making the arrangements we need.

But if we find ourselves in our 40s or even 50s without a pension pot, is there anything we can do about it?

The sums are sobering. Those in their 40s would have to save 20% to 25% of their incomes to match what they could have accumulated had they put aside just 10% starting in their 20s. If they wait until their 50s to start, they would have to contribute 40% of more of their incomes.

That is simply not possible for most people. But refusing to do anything because you cant save ‘enough’ makes no sense at all. The fact is whatever you save will supplement your state pension and help make your golden years a little more enjoyable. So do think twice before opting out of pension auto-enrolment when your employer is brought into the scheme and has to make contributions alongside yours.

It was recently said by Steve Bee a pension expert that “Just thinking about saving for a pension gets you nowhere. The first £1 saved gets you nearer your goal than all the thinking in the world” and this is so true.
Though its not simply a matter of spending less and planning on working for a few extra years. You need to have an effective pension savings plan and strategy  in place, whether that is using Personal pensions, Stakeholder schemes, an Employer scheme or something more bespoke like a self invested pension scheme (SIPP) all depending on your needs.

Advice is essential, but if you have left planning your retirement late, the most important piece of advice of all is -do it today.