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Your retirement plan

It's time to start firming up your plan, looking forward to how the next phase will work for you. In this short guide we'll help you break it down into phases so that you're empowered to make the right decisions for your colourful retirement. We've put together some ideas to help get you started.

Hand holding a smart device with a check list and marked off calendar in the background

On your own, or with your partner or family, try to answer some key questions about your future which will help you to map out your key stages.

It may be useful to plan around different phases of your retirement in 5-10 year chunks starting from about 10 years to retirement through to your later years, more than 20 years from retirement.

The nearest phase should be the clearest and most well defined, but don't ignore the later phases entirely. Although things will inevitably change in the coming decades it's worth having at least a rough idea now as it could impact how you decide to access your savings.

Before you start

You'll need to have already completed two key activities:

Picture your retirement

You need to have answered some key questions about what the next phase of your life will look like. If you haven't done this yet, we'd recommend you set aside time to think this through or talk about it with your partner or family. 

A few hours might be enough, but if your ideas are infinite or your situation is complex you may need to set aside a few hours over a few days. Don't rush it, but do make some decisions at least for the next decade or so.

Take stock of your money

You'll need to take stock of what your retirement finances will look like to work out when you could retire and the lifestyle you'll have.

If you haven't done this yet we'd recommend you set aside some time to gather all your documents together, get the latest values for your pensions and savings and perhaps get some guidance or advice.

This could take a few days or weeks, especially if you've forgotten any log in details for online accounts, or have missing documents you need to find.

Your plan

You may have several different pensions and savings pots set aside for retirement. You'll see that we refer to both defined contribution pension plans (or pension pots) and defined benefit pension schemes (also called DB, final salary or career average/CARE schemes) in this guide. 

These types of pensions are different to each other in many ways including how you can take your retirement income, what letters or statements you might receive or what benefits might be available to your loved ones after you have died. 

If you need more help in understanding the types of pension you have, you can learn more about this in Saving for retirement.

This guide gives you some things to think about at key stages but everyone's retirement will be different. We can't take into account your personal circumstances, when you're thinking of retiring or when might be the right time for you to take actions. So it's important that you seek guidance or independent advice for your own personal circumstances.

From 10 years before your retirement

From 5 years before your retirement

Your transition to retirement

The first phase of your retirement

Later life planning


MoneyHelper is part of the Money and Pensions Service.