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'Retirement - Planning for the future' brochure.

Three things making it harder for people to plan for the future

There are many things that prevent us from thinking about the future. Some of them are more intangible than others.

As part of our series on planning and preparing for later life, Nayyara Tabassum lists three things that make it harder for people to plan and prepare for their later life.

In recent weeks and months, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that help us to plan and prepare for later life.  

When it comes to things like work, health and our personal finances, our research highlights the enablers and barriers to planning and preparing that so many of us face.  

For me, it’s not just a question of whether we have the time to sit down and think about the future, or if we earn enough to pay into a pensions pot – though these are very important factors.  

There are also more intangible things that can prevent us from making preparations for our later life. 

1. Uncertainty 

No one can ever be fully prepared for life’s uncertainties.  

I remember when I was a child, my uncle died suddenly and unexpectedly, my dad helped my aunt with sorting all the financial issues that arose. I couldn’t understand why my aunt was poring over all those bank documents spread out on her bed.  

Unexpected things like the diagnosis of a health condition, a bereavement or a divorce can be a shock to the system. But when things are going well, or appear to have a low risk of happening, it is easier to live in the moment and not bother planning for something that feels like it may never happen.  

For many people, particularly for those who are younger, later life feels like an issue far over the horizon. There are often immediate concerns like rent or student loans or paying bills or jobs. And we often struggle to envisage how much money we will need to be comfortable in retirement. All of these factors can lead to reduced or even no planning for later life. 

2. Lack of support 

Having the right support is very important in enabling us to plan for later life.  

This might come in the form of better information, but people can be put off by financial jargon, or keep delaying setting up a pension because it sounds too difficult or requires too much time. Many of us struggle to know how much money we will have in decades to come, which makes it difficult to know how to plan.  

Informational support should therefore be as easily accessible as buying travel insurance or booking a taxi – simple, understandable and easily accessible to everyone.   

Support can go beyond information, for example, having auto-enrolment into a workplace pension scheme or sitting down for a ‘Mid-life MOT’ with employers or healthcare professionals. 

3. Social influence 

One of the most important reasons why people may be less prepared for later life is the influence of their social connections, from family and friends to colleagues and neighbours.  

Now, imagine – What if people in their 20s and 30s started talking about pension plans, investment schemes and the effects of long-term inflation? 

I sometimes think, 'who would want to spend their time talking about future finances?'. Many people often see this as a ‘boring’, albeit serious, topic and don’t want to talk about it – why think about your pension when you could be talking about that concert next week, or the football playing on the telly.  

Now, imagine – What if people in their 20s and 30s started talking about pension plans, investment schemes and the effects of long-term inflation? 

I wonder if it’s possible that more people would become interested in planning for their later life, instead of waiting and taking some action ‘when they get old’. After all, we’re all ageing.

Blogs: Planning and preparing for later life

Read our series of blogs
Nayyara Tabassum
Evidence Officer