….Make it this one. Do something about your pension. Don’t switch your brain off, I promise it’s not boring. What’s boring about free money? Consider making pensions savings a priority as you give your finances a new year overhaul.

If you have a pension

Time for an audit. Have you talked it over lately with the rep from your company pension scheme or your financial adviser? How has it performed over different time periods? Ask to see performance charts. How much have you paid in charges? What are you invested in and why? Have you ever increased your contributions? Could you afford to pay in more? How much income are you on track to get in retirement? These are all important questions to ask.

An annual or even quarterly review of your portfolio is a good idea, but don’t be tempted to switch in and out of investments too frequently, it’s expensive, and anyway, you are a long-term investor. Once you’re sure you’ve got a diversified portfolio, full of quality investments which match your age and appetite for risk, leave them alone and watch them grow.

If you don’t have a pension

Get one! If you work for an employer, once you’ve passed your probationary period you can usually join the company pension scheme. Often the company will also pay a certain amount in for you – FREE MONEY! And sometimes very generous employers will even match your contributions. It’s a no-brainer. And remember, the government pays in too – FREE MONEY AGAIN!

Even if you think you can’t afford to pay in right now, you really can’t afford not to. Use this online pensions calculator and prepare to be horrified by how poverty-stricken you’ll be when you’re older unless you do something now to plan for it. Don’t be one of those poor old souls who has to choose between heating and eating. The earlier you start saving, the longer your pension pot has to earn interest and grow. So be kind to your future self. Cut back on a luxury so you can afford this essential.

By 2018, all employers in the UK will have to sign their workers up to a company pension scheme (this is called auto-enrolment), unless employees choose to opt out. If you don’t have access to a company pension scheme, you can set up your own pension direct with a financial provider, although it’s better to take advice from a qualified financial adviser before you do anything. You can find one here.

Here are some helpful guides in plain English to explain things in more detail.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/pensions/

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/pensions-and-retirement

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/discount-pensions

Don’t wait til spring to spring-clean your finances – make it your new year’s resolution. Happy 2016.

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