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12 ways to future-proof your finances – it’s never too late, here’s how to start saving now for your pension

If you haven’t yet got a pension, or feel that you can’t afford to put money aside for one, don’t panic – as long as you start thinking about it now, you’ll soon be on track. Here are some tips on how to start saving:

1. Make a plan ** Write down your age and halve it – you should be putting this percentage of your pre-tax salary aside each year until you retire. Spend a few hours researching all your options online – educating yourself and making the right decisions regarding your pension is the first step to future-proofing your finances.

2. Check your workplace pension Most workers are now being auto-enrolled into their workplace pension scheme, with many employers match-funding their employees’ contributions. This is basically free money, so it’s definitely worth looking into what you are entitled to at work. The money is taken out of your pay packet before you receive it, so you won’t even notice that you’re saving money.

3. Choose a personal pension plan If your workplace doesn’t offer a good pension scheme, or you are not eligible, look into setting up a personal pension plan. You’ll need to do your homework, as there are so many options out there, but once you have chosen the right one for you, you can concentrate on freeing up some money to put into it every month.

4. Pay yourself first Before you pay any bills or do any food shopping, you should first pay yourself. Open a separate bank account or an ISA and simply set up a monthly direct debit so that the money leaves your account automatically. Again, you’ll save money without even realising it.

5. Set a weekly budget Be honest with yourself: do you even know how much money you spend on a day-to-day basis? Work out how much you need to spend and how much you actually spend in a week. Try to stick to the first amount – any money left over can be put into savings.

6. Go cash-only Help yourself to stick to your weekly budget by withdrawing the amount you have allocated yourself in cash. You’re less likely to fritter money away if you can see your stash rapidly depleting in your wallet!

7. Use the ‘pay rise’ trick This one requires willpower, but will be worth it in the end. The next time you get a pay rise, instead of spending the extra money you receive every month, put a quarter of it aside and use it to top up your pension.

8. Save money on your utilities Go through each bill and check whether there are any add-ons you can shave off or if there are other providers who can offer you the same service for less money. Once you switch to cheaper providers, you’ll automatically start saving money.

9. Consolidate your debts If you have a loan, a huge credit card bill and an overdraft, it’s time to take control of your debts. You could transfer your credit balance to another card offering 0% interest and start paying off the most high-interest debt first, or consolidate all your debts into one loan. Once you pay off your debts, you’ll have more money to put into the pension pot.

10. Slash any unnecessary expenditures Do you really need a new pair of trainers? The answer is almost definitely NO! The easiest way to start saving money is to stop spending. Give yourself an affordable clothes allowance and stick to it. Cancel any memberships/subscriptions that you don’t really use.

11. Sell your belongings
If you’re lucky enough to own a property, but are constantly cash-poor, why not sell off some belongings – from that old phone to an expensive dress you bought for a wedding and only wore once, your house is almost definitely full of hidden treasures that you can easily sell online.

12. Stick to the plan! It’s all very well starting off with good intentions, but saving for a pension can be hard work. Check yourself every couple of months and keep a close eye on your budget – if it’s too hard to stick to, tweak it slightly. But remember, the more money you are able to save now, the more you’ll have in your pension pot for when the time comes.

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