Image of Shirley Ballas

Retiring as a single person

Rewirement: the retirement podcast from Legal & General

Shirley: Hello, I’m Shirley Ballas and welcome to Rewirement, The retirement podcast from Legal & General. This is the series that explores how to reset, reinvent and rewire for the retirement you want. Every fortnight I'm joined by straight talking, honest retirees and would be retirees with different experiences, hopes, and expectations for retirement

Speaker: I think it might have been nice to have the option of thinking about reducing hours. And I haven't got that option.

Shirley: And my expert panel will be here to help too, with suggestions  to  help  you  feel  confident,  comfortable,  and  in  control  of  your  finances  after  you've  quit  the  day  job.  Today,  I'm  hearing  from  people  who  are  approaching  retirement  without  a  partner. 

I'll  be  finding  out  what  difference  this  makes  to  your  financial  and  emotional  planning,  as  well  as  hearing  about  the  options  available  to  those  who  are  going  it  alone. 

Today,  we're  going  to  hear  from  three  people  who  are  approaching  retirement  without  a  partner.  Last  time  we  met  David,  who's  been  working  for  the  civil  service  for  42  years  and  lives  with  his father.

David: I'm a single child.  I still live at home.  Sadly, my mum passed away two years ago.  So now it’s just Dad and I. 

From  a  pension  situation,  I'm  probably  due  to  get  my  national  retirement  pension when  I'm  about  66,  67. I'm 62 now.  I'm  civil  servant,  so  I  have  got  a  civil  service  pension that I should  be  getting.  If  I  do  decide  to  retire  before  pension  age,  then that will  be  something  I  can  maybe  use.

Shirley: Liz is 55 and divorced with two grownup children.  She doesn’t have a pension.

Liz: I live in a little village in East Sussex.  I have two daughters, 26 and 24.  When  I  was  young,  and  we're  going  back  to  35  years  ago,  I  was  working  in  a  publishing  company  which  got  taken  over  by  Robert  Maxwell. 

Now  I  did  have  a  few  years  pension  that  I'd  built  up,  but  he  then  went  and  killed  himself  and  had  spent  all  our  pension  pots.  So  I  didn't  qualify  to  get  anything  back  from  that.  So I lost my pension. 

Soon  after  that,  I  met  my  husband  and  we  had  two  children.  The  oldest  one  has  a  disability,  so  she  was  in and out  of  hospitals.  So  again,  I  didn't  work  then  for  about  15  years.  When  she  was  15,  I  went  back  to  work  part  time.  But  again,  I  didn't  really  earn  enough  money  to  warrant  sort  of  putting  any  away  to  go  into  a  pension.

Then  five,  six  years  ago,  my  husband and  I  got  divorced  and  he  had  his  own  private  pension,  which  he  still  has,  and  I  don't  have  access  to.  He had that.  So  at  the  moment,  I'm  left  with  nothing  really,  but  I  do  have  my  house,  which  to  me  is  kind  of  like  my  pension,  I  suppose. 

I  do  not  feel  empowered  about  my  financial  situation  when  I  do  retire.  I  have  a  sort  of  plan,  but  it's  a  matter  of,  well  I'll  have  to  do  that  because  I  don't  have  anything  else  kind  of  thing.  Up  until  a  couple  of  years,  well  18  months  ago,  I  was  working,  but  I  had  a  bad  accident. 

I  fell  off  a  ladder  when  I  was  cutting  my  hedge  and  I  completely  smashed  my  leg  up  and  spent  four  months  in  hospital.  I'm still kind of in rehab from that.  So  at  the  moment,  no,  I'm  not  working.

Shirley: My next guest is Jenny.  Jenny's a mum of two.  She's  always  put  into  her  pension  and  planned  ahead,  but  still  wonders  what  sorts  of  choices  she  might  have  to  make  compared  to  her  married  friends.

Jenny: Well,  I'm  approaching  58  and  I  live  in  Hove  in  East  Sussex,  near  Brighton  and  Hove.  I  work  as  a  social  work  manager  and  I've  worked  in  social  work,  really  all  my  professional  life. 

And  I've  got  two  children,  both  grown  up,  one  27  and  one  21.  When  you're  single,  you're  aware  that  your  finances  have  just  one  income.

I  suppose  what  I've  noticed  is  friends  who've  been  able  to  maybe  work  part  time  a  much  earlier  point  because  they've  got  another  income,  or  friends  who've  been  able  to  think, " Well,  I've  had  enough  of  being  in  my  full  time  job  for  all  these  years,  I'm  going  to  have  a  break  and  then  decide  what  to  do." 

And  I  suppose  I  know that  I  couldn't  have  a  break  and  take  some  time  out.  And  I  suppose,  in  an  ideal  world,  that  would  be  great.  And  also  I  think  it  might  have  been  nice  to  have  the  option  of  thinking  about  reducing  hours.  And  I  haven't  got  that  option,  because  my  salary ... And I still  got a daughter  at  university.  So my salary is their salary.

When  I  was  younger,  I  didn't  pay  into  a  pension.  I  worked  sort  of  freelancer  as  an  agency  social  worker  for  about  five  years,  which  meant  I  didn't  have  a  pension  scheme  at  all. 

And  then  when  I  got  a  full  time  job,  at  that  stage,  when  you  left  a  job,  you  could  withdraw  your  pension.  So I did that.  So  it  was  only  really  when  I  was  in  my  early  30s that  I  even  considered  the  need  to  pay  into  a  pension.  I've  got  to  keep  working  until  I  get  my  state  pension,  which  obviously  isn't  until  I'm,  I  think  it's  67.

So I think,  I  thought  until  I  started  to  sit  down  and  maybe  consider  the  detail  of  the  finances, I think I thought  I  was  better  placed  than  I  actually  am.  I  have  thought  at  times  I'd  love  to  give  up  work  and  maybe  do  something  more  radical,  go  and  live  abroad,  or  do  something  significantly  different. 

But  I  think  if  I  wasn't  wanting  to  do  that,  I  feel  fairly  okay  about  continuing  to  work.  I  am  mindful  of  being  able  to  at  least  support  my  children  in  some  way.  I've got a house.  I  still  got  a  mortgage  on  my  house,  but  I've  got  a  house  that's  worth ...  It's  not  a  big  house, but it's  worth  a  reasonable  amount  of  money.  And  it  doesn't  make  sense  for  me  to  have  this  and  for  them  to  have  no  means  of  getting  on  the  property  ladder.

So  I  suppose  I  have  thought  quite  a  bit  about  moving  to  a  cheaper  area,  not  just  for  them,  but  also  because  that  would  potentially  offer  me  something  different.  Because  I  do  think  as  much  as  it's  great  living  in  one  place  and  all  the  benefits  of  that,  there's  also  that  desire  to  have  a  change. 

I  suppose  my  number  one  would  be  obviously  health  and  happiness,  but  I  would  want  to  feel  financially  secure  so  that  I  can  live  a  comfortable  life,  go  on  holidays  if  I  wanted  to,  be  able  to  have  money  available  to  support  them.

But  then  as  somebody  approaching  retirement,  it's  thinking  about  contacts  and  friendships  and  social  life  you've  got  in  an  area.  And how would you manage (inaudible) a single person?  So, you know that might make it more difficult.

Shirley: Without a pension.  I  asked  Liz  how  she  plans  to  finance  her  retirement.

Liz: I'd  like  to  feel  secure  that  when  I  could  give  up  work,  I  would  have  enough  money  to  live  on  every  month.  That would be lovely.  And  not  have  to  worry, and  maybe  the  dream,  buy  a  camper  van  and  clear  off  round  Europe  for  a  couple  of  years. 

It  would  be  lovely  to  feel  that  confident  that  you  could  do  that  financially  and  you'd  be  secure  enough. 

I  will  have  to  sell  my  house  and  I  will  move  to  a  more  reasonable  area  of  the  country,  which  I  have  family  in  anyway,  in  Norfolk  and  Suffolk. 

So  the  plan  is  at  some  point  in  the  future,  I'll  sell  my  house  in  East  Sussex  and  I'll  move  to  that  area,  which  will  free  up  some  money,  which  I  will  then  invest  in  something.  And  that  hopefully  will  help  me  out  in  my  retirement.

Shirley: And when you look  at  how  much  you  can  sell  your  house  for  and  how  much  you  could  possibly  buy  whatever  property you're  looking  at, do you feel there's enough  money  there  to  live  on?

Liz: Oh,  will  there  ever  be  enough  money  to  live  on,  to  do  what  we  all  wanted  to  do?  I'm hoping so.  I'm hoping there’ll be enough money to live on.

Shirley: Because also that needs to be sat down.  You  go  through  the  allowance,  you  look  at  how  much  you're  selling  for,  you're  looking  at  how  much  you're  buying  for. 

Then  you  make,  if  you're  a  list  person  like  me,  then  you  make  your  list  of  how  much  there  is,  how  much  a  month  do  you  need  to  live  on  and  whether  you're  comfortable  with  that  amount  or  do  you  need  to  keep  working  past  the  date  of  retirement?

Liz: Yeah.  I  mean,  that's  something  I'll  have  to  sort  of  cross  as  and  when  I  get  there,  whether  the  money  I  made  out  of  my  house  here  would  be  enough  if I invest  it,  to  actually  be  enough  for  me  to live  on  monthly. 

I'm  hoping  it  would  be,  but  if  not,  then  there's  always  the  option  of  a  part  time  job  just  to  keep  some  money  coming  in.  Hopefully,  if  you're  fit  and  well  enough,  then  that's  an  option.  I could  get  a  job  behind  the  bar  at  the  local  pub.  That wouldn’t be too bad, would it?

Shirley: I couldn't think of anything more exciting actually. See if you can get me one in there.  I'll come with you Liz, okay?

Liz: Yeah, no problem.

Shirley: Even if  you do know  your  pension fund will allow  you  to  be  comfortable in  retirement, there  are  still questions  and  complexities  to  iron  out.  David told me about the scenarios he has to consider.

David: My civil service  pension,  I  can  really  retire  at  any time,  but of course  it  does  leave  that  gap  between,  if I said I would  retire at  62,  it  still  leaves  a  four  or  five  year  gap  between  then  and  getting  my  state  pension. So  if  I  did  decide  to  take  a  lump  sum  and  the  whole  amount,  that  would  have  to  really  tide  me  right  up till  I  get  to  my  state  pension.

Shirley: And do you think it could?

David: I don’t know.  I  honestly  don't  know,  because  it's  one  of  those  things.  It depends on your lifestyle, what you want to do. 

One  thing  I  have  got  in  my  favour,  and  it  sounds  dreadful,  but  if  anything  happened  to  my  dad,  it  would  mean  that  I  would  then  inherit  the house.  And  there's  a  house  near us that's  just  recently  been  sold  for 500, 000  pounds.  But that would mean looking at maybe equity release.  That's fine for a sort of stop gap.  And 500,000 would be very nice. 

But  if  anything  happened  to  me  or  if  I  became  ill,  I  got  serious  illness  or  Alzheimer  or  dementia  or  anything  like  that,  what  happens  about  me  going  into  a  home  or  anything  like  that?  So  it's  something I  have  really  got  to  stand  back  and  think  about.

Shirley: And  also  because  you're  single,  you've  really  got  to  have  somebody  you  can  trust,  in  case  later  on  down  the  line,  something  like  that  happens  and  you  do  have  to  take  equity  release  or  any  other  financial  situation  that  you  have.  You'll need someone you can trust.

David: Absolutely. Because I mean,  you  can't  give  a  power  of  attorney  to  somebody  who  you  know is going to  sort  of  suddenly  go  off  with  all  the  money  and  leave  you  with  nothing.  It's difficult.  I  mean, I have  got  friends,  but  nobody  that I  could  really  turn  and  say, " I  would  like you to have the power of attorney,"  because a  lot of people might  say, " Well,  I  don't  want  that  responsibility."  Some people might say they do, but others won’t.

Shirley: That's interesting. Knowing who to turn to for advice, or just having someone you can  trust to  talk  to  or  manage  your  affairs  is  an important  consideration for the millions of single, divorced or widowed  people  making  the  move  to  retirement  each  year.

David: It's  always  a  bit  of  a  minefield  with  regard  to  retirement  and  pension  details,  because  there's  so  much  out  there  for  people  to  sort  of  be  told.  As  I  said,  mentioned  just  now,  the  equity  releasing’s,  there  are  so  many  adverts  in  the  papers  and  on  the  television  and  all  this  sort  of  thing.  And  it's  just  knowing who is  the  right  person  to  go  to. 

What's  the  right  thing  for  me  to  do/  I  mean,  some  people,  you  could  speak  to  friends,  talk  to  friends  about  what  have  they  done,  but  what  works  well  for  one  person  doesn't  necessarily  work  well  for  somebody  else.  Who do you go to? 

I  mean,  if  I  went  to  the  bank,  they've  only  got  their  own  best  interest  at  heart.  And  it's  the  same  I  think  with  a  lot  of  places,  they're  selling  it  to  you  at  their  angle.  And  I  think  you've  got  to  really  be  aware  of  what's  happening.

Shirley: I asked Jenny where she turns for guidance.

Jenny: I wouldn't really know where to go.  And  a  couple  of  times  friends  of  mine  have  said, " Oh,  well,  you  can  talk  to  so- and- so  my  financial  advisor." 

And  I've  said, " Well,  how  does  that  work?  What did you pay them?"  And  they  say, " Well,  I  don't  know,  I  didn't  really  have  to  pay."  So  I  suppose  that's  made  me  feel  a  bit  unsure  about  how  does  that  work. 

But  I  think  if  I  was  in  a  relationship,  I  think I probably would  feel  a  bit  more  adventurous about  maybe  moving  or  maybe  traveling.  Whereas  I  would  be  more  cautious,  and  I'll  do  some of traveling  definitely,  but  the  options  are  slightly  different when you're just doing  it  on  your  own, I think.

Shirley: I  asked  Liz  where  she  would  look  for  information  on  her  pension  future.

Liz: I  wouldn't  necessarily ask about pensions and I think I've left it a bit late now,  and also  not  working, I can't put any money  into  it.  I would ask about equity release. I would  also  ask  that  if  I  sold  the  house and I had  sort  of  like  half  the  money  to  invest,  what  would  they  suggest  that  I  put  that  in?  That would be what I ask.

Shirley: Well, let me ask you a question.  Who do you speak to about money and finance?  Who's your confidant?

Liz: My  family  basically, sort of my brother  and  my  sister  would  be  the  main  people  I  would  speak  to.  My  brother's  very  sensible,  very  switched  on  about  things  like  that. 

So  I  would  speak  to  him  for  a  sensible  conversation,  and  I  would  speak  to  my  sister  just  to  sort  of  get  it off my chest and say, " I  don't  know what I'm  going  to  do."  And  then  we'll  come  up  with a  plan  or  something,  but  it's  never  a  very  good  plan.  So  my  family  basically  would  be  the  main  people  I  speak  to.

Shirley: And do you ever talk to your children about finances?

Liz: No. I don't particularly discuss it much with them. No, not really.

Shirley: Is  there  a  reason,  like  for  example,  if  you  discuss  it,  do  you  think  it's  like  a  lesson  for  them  when  they  move  forward?  Do  you  feel  like  it's,  you  just  want  to  keep  things  more ... 

See.  My  mother  is  a  very  private  person  and  I  feel  always  about  sharing,  even  though  sometimes  my  son  doesn't  want  to  hear  about a will  or  a  pension  policy  or  this  or  that,  I  feel  it's  important  to  share  the  ups  and  downs  I've  been  through  in  my  life,  so  that  perhaps  when  he  comes  across  those  kinds  of  ups  and  downs  himself,  maybe  he  can  reflect  back.  Do  you  feel  perhaps  it  would  be  worth  talking  to them?

Liz: Yes, I suppose so. I mean,  my  youngest  daughter's  probably  far  more  sensible  financially  than  I  am.  So  she  would  probably  talk  to  me  and  tell  me  where  I've  gone  wrong.

So that’s fine.  She's very sensible.  She's got her world, her life sorted.  So financially, that’s fine.  The other one is not quite the same.  And  yeah,  I  mean  they  know  the  situation,  they  know  that  I've  got  a  will,  they  know  what's  in  it.  We talk about that.  But I suppose there’s no point. 

I  don't  talk  about, " Oh,  what  am  I  going  to  do when  I  retire,  because  I  won't  be  able  to  live  off  the  state  pension,"  because  I  have  got  a  plan  in  place  sort  of,  if  it  works.  And  also  I  wouldn't  want  to  worry  them,  it's  not  their  problem,  so  I  wouldn't  want  to  worry  them.  But  yet,  in  a  way  that  they  could  learn  by  my  mistakes  to  encourage  them,  to  look  into  things  when  they're  younger  and  a  lot  earlier,  is  sensible.

Shirley: It's  a  tough  decision  to  make  for  anyone  to  sell  up  and  move  to  a  new  area,  even  if  it  does  release  some  cash  from  your  property.  We'll  talk  a  little  more  about  the  options  available  here  later  on.  First  I  asked  David  what  he  thought  the  challenges  were  for  a  single  person  in  retirement.

David: At  the  moment,  if  I  retired  now,  I  still  have  dad,  but I mean,  if  I  retired  and  he  wasn't  there,  I  would  just  be on  my  own.  I'm a fairly outgoing sort of person.  I  mean,  I  would  make  myself  go  out  and  that  for  meals,  or  go  out,  but  it's  always  very  difficult. 

If  you  go  out  for  a  meal  and  you're  on  your  own,  they  either  sit  you've  near  the  kitchen  or  in  the  middle  of  the  restaurant  or  somewhere  like  that,  or  somewhere  where  nobody  else  wants  to  sit. 

And what do you do?  I  mean,  I've  seen  people  on  their  own  in  pubs  and  restaurants  and  this  sort  of  thing.  And  that's  always,  I  think,  a  bit  difficult  and  it's always  very  sad  in  one  sense,  but  I  wouldn't  want  people  to  pity  me.  I  would  just  sort  of  try  and  find  somebody  to  go  out  with,  and  so  there  were  two  of  you to  have  a  conversation. 

So  yeah, so loneliness,  I think, would  be  one  of  the  biggest  challenges  for  a  single  person.  But  the  plus  side  is  obviously  you  can  do  what  you  want  to  do.  So,  if  you  want  to  get  up  early,  you  can  get  up  early. If you don't want to get up early, you don't.

Shirley: You're on your own schedule.

David: You run your own show.

Shirley: You can always call me if I'm in the area.

David: Absolutely, Shirley. If I want a dance partner, I'll do that. Thank you.

Shirley: I'll try not to tread on your toes.

David: Thank you.

Shirley: How do you personally plan to find your way around the lack of workplace community?

David: Some people aren't that gregarious. They don't go out and want to do those sorts of things. And it's really, for some people, a real push to make them do something different.

And I think it's difficult. If you're working in an office, you get that daily routine, you get the same people, and you see the same people faces. They get to know you; they get to know your moods.

They get to know if you're in a good mood or a bad mood. If you're on your own, who do you talk to? You've got to really get a network of friends to be able to sort of go out to and say to them, "This is a problem. I've got a problem.

This is what I need to do." So, yeah. It's always a bit of a problem. But I think if you really want to make that effort, you can get out and do it

Shirley: My mom's 82, by the way, and she still gets out and about, and has friends and across to Liverpool and up doing her washing and ironing. Likes her own company. Never got married again after the first husband.

David: I mean, some people do and some people do like their own company. And I mean, I can quite easily spend the day in the garden or clearing the house and tidying and this sort of thing.

I just would not be able to sit. I mean, some people say, " Oh, I just like to sit down  and watch the television." I couldn't do that all day every day. I mean, it's nice to watch some programs, but you've got to really sort of get out and do things, otherwise you just. 

Shirley: I asked Jenny, if she thought her social life would change when she stopped working.

Jenny: Yeah, it does provide friendships and it does provide stimulation and structure. But I suppose I do think you can find that in other ways. I suppose I've seen people replicate some of that through voluntary work or hobbies.

But no, I think it's easy to underestimate maybe the positives of work. You know, I've lived here for 20 years. One of my sort of best friends lives around the corner. I've got nice ... You know, I obviously have got to know quite a lot of people.

It's more that, that I would be really conscious of if you move, what's that like? But then I have also got friends and even my parents who moved at a similar age to me and they very quickly make new connections and friends.

Shirley: Planning for your future when you're solo can be a different game, not just from a financial standpoint, but also in terms of your relationships, living situation and those who depend on you for support.

If that's you, hopefully today's conversations have reassured you that there are many people out there facing the same questions and decisions. In each episode, I get a chance to put these questions to the experts.

And today I'm joined by Chris Knight, the CEO of Legal & General Retail Retirement, and Joe Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist and author. It's great to talk to you, Joe and Chris. Joe retirement is a big life change for anyone to navigate emotionally. What added dimensions do you think being solo, whether that's single, widowed or divorced brings to this?

Jo: I think it's all about emotional preparedness. I think if you're single and you've been working or you're, solo and you've been working, what you've had for a great deal of your daily life is the companionship and camaraderie and company of other workers, colleagues.

And that's a big chunk of a week. You may be used to being on your own in the evening or at weekends, but to have that taken away can be quite a difficult thing for some people. So I think knowing, being prepared and planning in advance or knowing that bulk of your hours, though you may have been working well with other people, you will need to sort of think about replacing that with other company.

Shirley: Do you have many clients who are approaching a retirement change? What sorts of questions do they come up with?

Jo: The ones who've come to me are often the ones who were dreading it, who were very fearful, who wondered how that third trimester of life was going to pan out. Didn't know what to do. Needed reassurance.

But they're the ones, sometimes, who have already been thinking about it a bit. The ones who I think need it most, who probably wouldn't come to me, are those that think it's going to be fantastic. It's going to be a breeze.

It's going to be marvellous. I won't look back. And they're sometimes the ones who actually have the biggest shock to their system, if you like, rather than the ones who anticipate it's going to be quite different.

Shirley: You must hear some inspiring stories.

Jo: Very inspired by lots of people. I think together we've made a sort of plan about what they'll do, and things that they may feel a bit uncomfortable about in the first instance; they'll give it a go.

It's all about finding what feels right for you and adjusting to it.  Nobody  goes  into  retirement  suddenly  saying, " I'm  going  to  go  on  holiday  on  my  own.  I'm  going  to  go  out  for  dinner  every  night  on  my  own."  These are things that you choose.  You  see  if  you  like  them,  how do  you  adjust  to  them? 

Making new contacts, new friends, and new associations.  So  it's  getting  that  balance  and  knowing  that  things  are  going  to  change  and  how  just  taking  baby  steps  to  changing  them,  it  doesn't  have  to  be  an  overwhelming  all  at  once  significant  change.  But  yeah,  I've  been  pretty  impressed  by  some  of  my  clients.

Shirley: Are people more worried now about coronavirus?

Jo: Well, I think there  are  three  C  three  key  things  to  remember  here.  Due  to  the  coronavirus  epidemic,  actually,  if  there's  any  positive  takeaway,  it's  that  some  of  these  people  living  on  their  own  will  have  met  neighbours  they  have  never  met  before. 

So they've been  a  community  around  them  that  perhaps  they  just  hadn't  had  the  time  or  thought  about  getting  to  know  before.  But that’s one of the key things.  To  know,  actually,  and  we're  talking  about  stats,  but  actually  they're  more  single  people  living  in  this  country  than  ever  before. 

So you will not be alone in that situation.  So  do  not  be  fearful  about  reaching  out  to  communities,  to  other  people,  to  getting  to  know  new  people,  however  you  do  it.  Via  going  to  the  gym  or  a  local  organization  or  community  centre.  That's really important.

Secondly,  I  say,  make  technology  your  friend,  because  lots  of  older  people  have  got  by  without  really  using  any  technology  at  all,  apart  from  their  phones.  And there's  a  whole  world  out  there  that's  quite  easy  to  use,  that  will  keep  you  in  touch  with  friends  and  relatives  on  video  calls,  that  will  get  you  onto  social  media.  I mean, there's so much information out there. It's  not  that  hard,  even  if  you've  ignored  it  up  to  now. 

Get  to  learn  it,  because  it  really  will  be  your  companion.

And  thirdly,  on  a  practical  level,  there  are  so  many  free  things  to  do.  So  even  if  you're  fretting  a  bit  about  how  far  your  money  is  going  to  stretch,  anybody  in  any  town  or  near  a  town,  will  have  loads  of  free  things  to  do. 

They could be art galleries, museums, events.  There's  so  much  out  there  that  costs  no  money  at  all.  And it’s a great way of getting out.  And  it's  a  great  way  of meeting  other  people  too.

Shirley: Chris, it’s great to have you back again.  Our  rewirerees  have  talked  about  being  unsure  where  to  go  for  advice.  How  do  you  cut  through  all  the  jargon  that's  out  there?

Chris: Yeah,  there  is  an  awful  lot  out  there,  isn't  there? First of all, your  existing  pension  providers  should  be  sending  you  something  called  a  wake  up  pack,  which  will  give  you  some  useful  information. 

So  have  a  look  at  that  and  go  onto  their  websites,  and  maybe  go  onto  the  websites  of  some  other  providers.  There's  a  couple  of  really  good  free  sources  out  there. 

There's Pensionwise, which is a government backed organization.  You can actually get free advice conversations when you get to retirement.  And  lots  of  people  find them  really,  really  helpful.  So definitely go onto Pensionwise. 

There's  also  the  money  advice  service,  which  again,  it's  a  government  thing.  So  it's  very  independent  and  that  gives  you  a  lot  of  help  if  you  want  to  shop  around,  because  people  really  should  look  to  shop  around. 

Or  your  employer  or  your  pension  scheme  you're  a  member  of,  probably  gives  you  some  access  to  financial  advice  too.  Or you can go onto something like unbiased. com  and  get  the  name  of  a  local  financial  advisor  in  your  area. 

But take time to do it.  There's no rush.  And if you  can  bring  yourself  up  to  speed  and  people  get  themselves  informed,  they'll  feel  much  better  about  it.  They'll  feel  much  more  confident  to  make  the  right  decisions  for  themselves.

Shirley: The  stats  show  that  women  often  retire  with  smaller  pensions  than  men.  Why do you think that is?

Chris: Yeah, Shirley, unfortunately that is often quite true.  And  it's  largely  to  do  with  what  happens  during  a  women's  working  lives,  which  tends  to  mean  that  either  they  or  their  employers  pay  less  money  into  pension  pots. 

So  for  example,  women  are  more  likely  to  take  career  breaks  at  some  point  during  their  career,  either  to  look  after  children  or  to  look  after  other  relatives.  And  they're  more  likely,  women  are  more  likely  to  have  worked  part  time  or  in  other  kind  of  areas  or  roles,  where  in  the  past  there  wasn't  such  great  pension  provision.  And  then  of  course,  there's  that  sort  of  famous  salary  gap,  where  women  have  earned  less  than  men  in  the  past. 

So  from  that  perspective,  they  often  have  smaller  pots  to  work  with.  And  the  other  truth  is  that  women  tend  to  live  longer  than  men  as  well.  So  the  smaller  pots  that  women  have  tend  to  have  to  stretch  that  bit  further.  I  think  it's  worth  saying  that  studies  sometimes  show  that  women  are  a  bit  less  confident  than  men  in  the  sort  of  financial  planning  area. 

That's not really true.  I  mean,  women  are  just  as  good  if  not  better  than  men,  about  making  the  right  decision.  So  that  again,  if  they  take  the  time  to  get  themselves  informed  and  look  at  all  their  options,  they can be in  a  much  better  place.

Shirley: Jo, what is a healthy, mental approach to retirement? 

I stayed in bed there the day till 10: 30.  I was so upset for 48 hours. 

I  tell  you,  I  couldn't  get  it  out  my  mind  that  I  didn't  feel  productive.  I have to get up.  Well  now  with  the  coronavirus  eight  o'clock,  but  normally  I'm  up  at  six.

Jo: You can still do something productive Shirley, [inaudible 00:27:24]. 

Don't forget that.  I don't  think  you  should  be  too  hard  on  yourself.  I  think  it's  perfectly  okay  to  lie  in  bed  until 10: 00  AM  on  your  first  day  or  two,  after  a  time  and  possibly  even  your  first  week. 

But  no,  I  don't  think  it's  a  very  good  pattern  to  keep,  but  I  understand  how  you  might  just  want  to  see  what  it  feels  like.  If  you've  been  getting  up  for  years  at  six  or  seven  o'clock  in  the  morning,  there's  going  to  be  a  (inaudible)   just  to  see  what  it  feels  like  to  lie  in  bed  till  10. 

So  I  expect  people to  do  it  for  a  couple  of  days,  of  course.  And  then  I  think  you  need  a  sense  of  purpose.  You  feel  that  you've  got  to do  something, you  can't  spend  the rest of your  days  in  bed. 

Though  there's  nothing  wrong  with  a  few  lie  ins. 

So don’t be too hard on himself.

Shirley: Lots  of  people  we've  talked  to  say  they  are  looking  forward  to  more  time  socializing  and  traveling.  But  as  David  said  there,  you  don't  always  want  to  go  out  to  dinner  alone.  What  other  opportunities  are  there  to  enjoy  these  things  in  later  life  when  you're  on  your  own?

Jo: Well, as  I  mentioned  earlier,  there  are  opportunities  for  socializing  through  organizations,  through  cinema  clubs,  theatre  clubs,  whatever  your  interest  is, art,  your  hobbies,  walking.  I  mean,  there  it  is  all there before  you,  but  there's  also  the  possibility  of  dating  in  later  life. 

If  you're  single  and  you  want  to  meet  somebody.  I  have  a  lot  of  clients  who  are  well  past retirement  age,  who  are  still  having  a  ball,  enjoying  meeting  people  online.  And  they  don't  have  to  go  out  for  dinner  on their own  because  they  have  someone  to  go  out  with.

So  all  that  freedom,  it's  like  being  18  again,  but  with  a  little  bit  more  money  and  a  little  bit  more  sense  and  more  liberation.  So I would always  encourage  people  to  do  that,  if  that's  what  they  want  to  do. There's definitely no time limit on the dating side of things.

Shirley: Oh, I'm glad you said that. Thank you.

Jo: Oh, Shirley. You and I need to have a separate conversation.

Shirley: I would like to have a separate conversation, I think. There's  a  few  things  I'd like  to  ask,  actually. I  think  David  raised  a  good  point about having someone  to  talk  to  when  the  unexpected happens. How important is a good support network?

Jo: Well, it’s very important. I mean, but it’s a two way process.  So  I  think  often  you  get  fulfilled  by  supporting  somebody  else  as  well. I  think,  again,  this  is  something  coronavirus  has  showed  us. 

There's  always  someone  more  vulnerable  than  that  you  can  help. And that makes us feel good.  But  yes,  knowing  that  you've  got  one  or  two  people  who  will  be  there  for  you,  come  what  may,  and  doing  that  sort  of  swap  so  you're  there  for  each  other,  is  incredibly  important. 

Again,  it's  a safety  net,  a  sense  of  security  and  companionship  and  friendship. These  are  things  that  we  value  so  much  more  in  retirement,  because  they  become  that  much  more  a  priority  and  that  much  more  significant.

Shirley: Chris, it must be even more important to consider how you’ll fund your retirement when you’re on your own.

Chris: Yes Shirley, I think that’s absolutely true.  I  think  that's  true  both  for  retirees  who  don't  have  partners  and  for  people  who  are  retiring  and  don't  have  children. There's  a  million  people  age  over  60  that  don't  have  children. 

And  I  think  sometimes  they  get  left  out  of  the  debate.  But  not  having  a  partner  or  a  support  network  can  make  things  more  expensive.  So  people  thinking  about  that  might  want  to  think  about  having  a  higher  rainy  day  fund  than  they  would  otherwise  do. 

People  might  also  want  to  think  about  their  insurance  and  making  sure  that  they  have  protection  there.  And  finally,  maybe  thinking  about  products  that  provide  guarantees,  like  guarantees  of  income.  So  you  don't  have  to  worry  or  rely  on  anybody  else.

Shirley: When people have divorced, their pension situation may also change.  It's  often  the  last  thing  on  your  mind  to  sort  out.  What guidance can you give on navigating this?

Chris: Yeah,  look,  I  mean,  divorce  is  a  complex  thing  and  pensions  are  a  complex  thing  as  well.  So putting the two together is really doubly difficult. 

And  I  think  often  pensions  are  the  things  that  get  left  to  last  if  you  like  in  a  divorce.  So  as  well  as  getting  good  kind  of  legal  advice,  you  might  want  to  get  good  financial  advice  at  the  same  time.

  I  mean,  one  interesting  situation  that  often  happens  with  divorce  is  that  sort  of  one  person,  so  often  the  woman,  would  end  up  with  the  house  maybe,  and  the  other  person  in  the  divorce  has  kept  to  the  pension  assets  and  that's  all  fair  and  above  board  and  everything  else,  but  it  does  mean  that  the  one  with the  house,  the  woman  might  need  to  use  the  house  more  to  fund  retirement  than  use  pension  assets. 

And you know, it’s a bit more complicated.  It's  definitely  not  impossible,  but  it's  definitely  worth  thinking  about  and  getting  some  good  financial  advice  on  that  too.

Shirley: Chris,  are  there  some  more  practical  things  people  can  do  to  afford  the  retirement  they  want?  Does  Jenny  have  to  choose  between  the  neighbourhood  she's  always  known  or  having  a  bit  more  cash  in  retirement?

Chris: Well look, downsizing into another  property  or  an  age  specific  property  in  your  neighbourhood  might  be  a  really  good  idea.

 And  there  are,  these  days,  more  variety  of  those  kinds  of  properties  available.  At  Legal  In  General,  we're  investing  in  those  things  too. 

But  if  you  really  want  to  stay  in  your  own  home,  then  a  lifetime  mortgage,  which  is  a  type  of  equity  release,  might  be  a  good  option  too.  You're going to stay in that house forever. 

And you don't have to worry about that.  And  the  lifetime  mortgage  can  provide  you  with  some  cash,  either  sort  of  as  a  lump  sum  or  as  a  regular  payment  or  some  sort  of  combination  of  the  both.

So it’s quite flexible.  So  it  does  reduce  the  value  of  the  inheritance  if  you  want  to  leave  that  to  the  next  generation,  but  you  can  also  kind  of  earmark  a  part  of  your  house  to  be  left  to  the  children  or  grandchildren.

That's called inheritance protection, which is becoming increasingly popular. So  for  many  people,  that's a  really  good  option,  but  they  should  definitely  talk  to  a  financial  advisor.

Shirley: When  you  die,  does  the  equity  release  people  take  all  your  home  or  do  they  only  take  the  portion  that  you've  taken  out  for  equity  release?

Chris: No, that's a really good question, and people often worry about that.  No,  the  house  gets  sold  and  then  you  pay  back  to  the  equity  release  company  just  want  you owe  them.  So it’s the 30, 000 pounds.  And  yeah,  if  you've  paid  the  interest, then  it's  just  30,000  pounds,  but  you  can  also  not  pay  the  interest,  because  many  people,  they  can't afford  to  pay  the  interest,  they  don't  want  to  pay the interest.

Shirley: And then that gets taken out.

Chris: Exactly.  Yeah, exactly.  There used to be,  in the old days,  those  kinds  of  products,  but  fortunately  those  products,  they're  not  out  there  anymore.  It's  a  much  better  kind  of  environment  than it  used  to  be,  to  be  honest.

Shirley: Chris is equity release for everyone?

Chris: No, Shirley. It's not for everybody, but we think it would help a lot of people. But the key thing is to get some good financial advice.  So, find a good financial advisor and talk to them about it.

Shirley: Thank you.  Some  truly  helpful  thoughts  on  making  sure  you're  ready  financially  and  emotionally  for  solo  retirement.  Hopefully  you  can  have  some  action  points  and  ideas  to  help  you  feel  comfortable  and  enjoy  the  retirement  you  deserve. 

You can find out more about retirement planning at legal&general. Com/ retirement.  In  our  next  episode,  we'll  be  talking  about  how  to  fund  your  dream  retirement.  Whether  you  want  to  tour  the  nation  on  a  narrow  boat,  start  a  business  or  pack  off  to  the  sunnier  shores. 

Subscribe  on  your  podcast  listening  platform,  and  you'll  get  it  on  your  device  as  soon  as  it's  available.  Thanks for listening. 

I'm  Shirley  Ballas  and  I'll  catch  up  with  you  next  time.

How do you ensure you have enough money to fund the retirement you’d like? What are the options to provide you with an income? This episode tackles these questions and more, making sure you are well informed to make plans.

Shirley Ballas chats to people approaching this exciting stage in life and gets advice from financial experts - Holly MacKay, editor of website Boring Money and Emma Byron who is Managing Director of Retirement Income at Legal & General.

Featured guests

Chris Knight

Chris Knight

CEO, Legal & General Retail Retirement 

Chris’ focus in the Retail Retirement division is helping individuals lead longer, healthier, happier lives. Together with his team they have helped over half a million customers to live their own ‘colour retirements’ with a range of products and services including annuities, lifetime mortgages and care solutions.

Jo Hemmings

Jo Hemmings

Behavioural Psychologist

Jo is a qualified and registered Behavioural Psychologist, relationship coach, TV and radio personality. She’s the UK's best known and respected celebrity psychologist. She regularly appears on Good Morning Britain as well as many other TV shows. She is also the author of five successful books on psychology and relationships.