Carol Ogley – South Yorkshire – Client Support Supervisor at Ben
Like many of us, when Carol started working she didn’t think about how a pension would help her and her family, but a lightbulb moment and a reality check back in 2008 changed all that. We caught up with her as she starts planning for the last few years of work and heads towards retirement.
When did you start saving for a pension?
It wasn’t until I started working for a building society at the age of 29 that I started to pay towards a pension and my future. Back when I started working, at the age of 16, pensions were simply not discussed, and honestly there were other things I wanted to spend money on. There was also an attitude where you retired on the state pension alone. My parents never saved as they believed the National Insurance they paid in would take care of their future. That was the ‘done thing’.
When did you start taking pensions seriously?
I remember the exact moment! In 1996 I was a mortgage advisor but training to be a financial advisor. Part of the role was learning about life insurance and pensions so I could give financial advice to customers. The trainer said to us that no one should rely on the state pension alone, and we should take responsibility for our own retirement. It was a lightbulb moment. I went straight home and told my husband he was setting up a private pension!
Has your attitude towards retirement changed as you’ve got older?
It has become important, but not something that takes up a lot of time. My pension comes out of my monthly pay, and my husband and I simply see how much extra money we have left each month and top up his private one. Once you put the money in, you really don’t notice it’s gone. It’s also great to see your annual pension statements and realise how much it’s increased!
People can end up with smaller pensions due to having children; how did raising a family impact on your pension?
Deciding to have a family in my early 20s meant that I started the whole thing quite late. This will be a problem for a lot of women around my age who did the same thing. But as you live your life, it becomes clear that a pension really helps. During the financial crash in 2008, I lost my job like lots of people. It pulled the carpet out from underneath me, and suddenly living on £69 a week showed me how valuable paying into a pension is. After that scare, I have used an inheritance to fund more savings accounts such as ISAs, just to live more comfortably.
Are you optimistic about your retirement?
Definitely. I’m quite fortunate. My husband and I both have pension schemes which will help us to live comfortably, doing things like going on holiday once a year. My mum lives on just a state pension and I’ve seen what life can be like. She’s very frugal with her money – she’s come from an age where, if you can’t afford it, you don’t buy it.
Any advice for people about pensions?
Yes… start early. You can earn more in a pension pot than a savings account; you might not be able to get at it, but it will benefit you in later life. Even if it’s the smallest amount for a work pension or a few pounds for a private pension, you will thank yourself later. And when you can, keep topping it up. Instead of buying that daily cup of coffee, put it into a pension fund that will help you in the future, which for me came around very quickly. It will come around faster than you think, so don’t be afraid to look to the future.
If you’re thinking of retiring soon, it’s a good idea to take the time to think about the options available to you. Our advice and support can help people to plan for a more positive financial future.
You can also read our NEW online pension guide to advise you what your pension priorities should be, at every stage of life! You’re never too young – or old – to prepare for your future.