Pensions are long term investments. You may get back less than you originally paid in because your capital is not guaranteed and charges may apply.
The earlier the better, but you can build a pension income even if you start later in life.
If you contribute from an early age, you have a longer period of time to build your pension fund, which could give you a better income when you retire.
If you begin to contribute later in life, you can still add the equivalent of your annual salary* into your pension fund each year tax free.
If you think you will not have enough income to live on when you retire, speak to an independent financial adviser to discuss your options.
* Or up to £3,600, whichever is higher.
You should think about the financial position you could be in when you retire:
What outgoings will you have? Will you still be paying for a mortgage or rent?
What lifestyle will you want? Will you explore the world or improve your home?
Will you want to help your children and grandchildren out financially?
It is important to try and clear your debts before you retire, otherwise you could see your retirement income stretched and you could default on your repayments.
Think about how much money you will need to afford a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. You can do this by answering the following questions:
What income do you want when you retire? For example, £12,000 a year
How much can you afford to save each month? For example, £100 a month
You can use one of the following pension calculators online to predict how much income you will get from your pension based on how much you contribute:
Unfortunately, you may find the amount you can afford to save each month will not give you the retirement income you want.
It is never too late to start saving for your retirement, but the longer you leave it the more you will need to invest to build the income you want.
The amount you get from your State Pension will depend on how much you have paid in National Insurance.
You can make a lump sum payment to make up any shortfall if you have missed any National Insurance payments in the past.
You get your State Pension as an income each month when you reach your State Pension age.
If you work for an employer, they may have a workplace pension scheme that you could join.
Some employers also contribute to your workplace pension, so it is worth asking your manager or HR team for more information.
There is a chance you may have already been automatically enrolled onto your employer's pension. You can read out guide to find out if auto enrolment applies to you.
You can open this type of pension without any help from an independent financial adviser, and is completely self managed.
You can invest as much as you like into this type of pension, and it will pay out when you reach your retirement age like a workplace pension.
You can help ensure you have the retirement you want by finding the best personal pension plan to make your money work as hard as it can.