"I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need – if I die by 4 o’clock.” It’s an old gag, a pretty lame one, but that will quite literally be the situation facing many Britons in 30 years’ time. A good number of today’s workers look destined to spend their final years in poverty.
The government has made clear its intention to step back from hearty support of pensioners. The state pension will be a miserly £155 a week from next year (only 60 per cent of the living wage), while the age of eligibility is being gradually raised – and age 70 has been mooted. The onus is firmly on the individual to support themselves in retirement. If you want to retire before then, or have more to live on, you’ll have to save.
“In future, when people are reliant on their direct contribution pension pot, the day you retire will be the riskiest day of your life,” says Claire Finn of BlackRock. “It will be the peak of your earnings and you will face a very long time in retirement.”
THE BRUTAL TRUTH: HOW MUCH CASH YOU'LL NEED TO QUIT WORK
Charts like this tend to serve as a wake-up call. Often they “show how long you have got until you are hawking family heirlooms on eBay and doing most of your shopping from the supermarket’s close-to-sell-by-date fridge,” says Justin Urquhart Stewart of 7IM, which produced the chart above.
“That sounds brutal but the research we’ve done paints a worrying picture of how little people understand about pensions. On average people underestimate by half what they need to save,” he says.
This chart shows how much a person investing monthly can hope to save over 10-40 years. Assuming all of that money is invested, none of it is touched, and the money also grows for an average of 3 per cent a year, the second-last column shows how much money would be saved.
Read more: We're not saving enough because YOLO
The final column shows how long the money would last if £17,400 was withdrawn each year. That’s a pretty small sum – and tough to live on comfortably in London – but it is how much respondents in one survey said they would need annually, on top of the current £6,000 a year state pension.
The other point to remember is that savings need to be invested if they are to grow in size. The stock market is often a better place to keep savings, if you can take the risk.
Many people keep a lot of their savings in cash, fearful of losing any of it should investment markets fall. Shares do fall, but over the longer term the general trend is usually upwards. “The far, far bigger risk is ignorance,” says Urquhart Stewart.
The big take-away from this chart is how much less needs to be saved each month if we start earlier. “Leave it till your 50s and far more drastic action is needed,” he warns.
“The crucial element in all this is time. Plan early and the impact is less. I don’t underestimate the financial burdens on the younger generation, but if you are starting in your 20s and willing to take some investment risk, saving for a comfortable retirement might mean the cost of a daily latté and shop-bought lunch."
How long will you live (and hopefully not be working)?
Longevity is a problem when it comes to pensions. The person who will live to 150 has already been born, and many of us at working age today will live to 100. Right now, the most common age of death for men is 86 and for women it is 89, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This chart shows how many years after age 65 men and women are likely to live. For each of those years, you will need a decent sum, probably tens of thousands, to live on. An extra year means you’ll need an additional £10,000 at least, an extra three years means an additional £30,000 will have to be saved, and so on.
TODAY'S YOUNGSTERS WILL LIVE ON AND ON
The chart above shows how sharply life expectancy is rising for the younger generation.
Indeed, London has experienced the most rapid increase in life expectancy for newborns of any part of the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. They put this down to the capital having the swiftest decrease in deaths from common killers including heart disease.