From ‘hire and fire’ work to comfortable retirement: How one man made it ‘worry-free’

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He had been of the opinion that this work was the most secure he could find, but after being made redundant aged 24, he thought to himself “if that’s job security then I don’t think much of it”.

When the opportunity to work as a contractor arose, he took it with both hands and hasn’t looked back.

The contract he took was initially expected to be an unstable, temporary measure, but proved the opposite.

After five years of contracting, he took a permanent job for two years before returning to contracting.

It was at this point “I knew that I had to put money away in a pension but initially only put around five percent away”, Chris said.

Left to his own devices in managing his pension, he found himself “quite bored” by the process and saved into it blindly “for quite a long time”.

It took him some time to fully grasp how much he needed to put away in order to enjoy the retirement he wanted, but he had to “make up for a slow start.

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“I believe that 12 percent is a much more reasonable value and should have done that from the start.”

Indeed, many financial experts have started touting pension contributions worth 12 percent of total income as the new eight percent, which is the rate at which people normally automatically pay in when they are auto-enrolled.

People may have to put a higher amount of their income into their pension depending on the type of lifestyle they aim for in retirement, but these figures are split between employee contributions and employer contributions, it should be noted.

Chris was aware that his income could fluctuate due to the nature of his work so made sure to top up even more in good years. This made up for his “slow start” and accounted for the years when his income was down.

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Essentially, in a good year he “would put in quite a lot and in a bad year not much at all”, he said.

He credits his cautious personality as the reason he was able to recover from lateness in getting going with his pension.

When his employer sold up he also had to transition to a new pension provider and had two small pensions to consolidate.

He said when he started looking around for a new provider he realised at many places he “would be getting a worse deal and getting charged more.

“The more I looked into it the more I realised this was a risk.”

But after looking around, which was made fairly easy by the internet, he was able to find a provider which gave him everything he needed.

He said Nutmeg, an online pension provider, “offered low charges and gave me good control over my savings, which is important to me”.

The service allows him to alter the risk factor of his investments depending on the outlook of the economy as well as offering him flexibility as he can withdraw cash at a week’s notice.

He said: “Pensions are very easy to put to the back of one’s mind, but it’s important to spend some time on them regularly.”

Turning his pension contributions around and finding the right pension provider for him has “allowed me to get a grip on my finances”, he said, whereas he didn’t before.

At the age of 72 now and having taken the choice to continue working; Chris has been comfortable for some time. Additionally, he has deferred taking his state pension for three years, which gave him a massive uplift.

His decision to defer for this time period entitled him to yearly state pension increases of over 10 percent. Multiplied over three years, this gave him a substantial 30 percent increase in total, a big boost to his retirement income.

Similarly to many others, he views his state pension as the base of his retirement income, although on average it only replaces around 22 percent of pre-retirement income, showing his decision to increase his pension contributions was a wise one which will mean he won’t have to face a massive drop in living standards in his retirement.

“I’m still taking a few short contracts – my present one finishes in November.

“I aim to retire quite soon, possibly next year,” he finished.

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