The revolutionary move to start enrolling millions of workers automatically into a pension seven years ago was long overdue.
Indeed, since the launch of the ‘auto-enrolment’ scheme in 2012, more than ten million people now pay into a workplace pension.
Over the years, the minimum amount you must pay in has crept up. As of last month workers must pay in at least 5 per cent of their salary, topped up by a further 3 per cent from their employer (although you can opt out of the scheme).
Indeed, since the launch of the ‘auto-enrolment’ scheme in 2012, more than ten million people now pay into a workplace pension
But now, as we reveal today, experts warn that this still isn’t enough. They say the mandated minimums are a brilliant start — but are insufficient for a comfortable retirement.
Yet for those of us whose purses are pinched by mortgages, household bills, student loan debt and life’s other unexpected expenses, the idea that we should be saving even more is simply unrealistic.
I do understand how hard it can be to prioritise your pension when you are decades from giving up work.
No one is going to forgo holidays for 30 years so they can ramp up their monthly contributions.
But if you get a pay rise at some point, you may find you can more easily afford to give your pension a bump without hitting your take-home pay — after all, you are less likely to miss what you never had.
Similarly, if you come into some cash or receive an inheritance, consider putting some of it into a pension.
Never forget the undisputed advantages of tax relief. Where else can you save £40 and get back £50 — the equivalent of 25 per cent interest (or more if you’re a higher earner)?
The key is to think of auto-enrolment pension saving as the foundation of your retirement planning — and save extra whenever you get the opportunity.
Every little will help in the long run, so don’t be discouraged.
May means one thing in my financial calendar — it’s time to renew my breakdown cover.
A reminder letter promptly arrived last month to say that the cost of covering my little blue Ford Fiesta would be rising by more than a fifth (!) from £80.64 to £103.04 a year.
A quick two-minute check on Green Flag’s website showed that a new customer buying exactly the same policy online would pay just £78.40.
I jumped on the phone, ready to go to war… only for the woman on the line to agree immediately to match the cheaper price.
Two minutes and 44 seconds — that’s all it took. A pleasing record for the Bischoff v Insurer scorecard — but also so disappointing.
The so-called loyalty rip-off is currently being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
I had hoped insurers would move to clean up their act before the regulator forced them to, but it’s clear some firms are intent on cashing in while they can.
Not so smart
Finally, a question about smart meters from Money Mail reader Albert Hickson, who asks: ‘How on earth can a smart meter save anyone any money?
Boiling a pint of water, running a dishwasher cycle, watching the television or listening to the radio all cost the same with or without a smart meter. I don’t need a smart meter to tell me I’ve left a light on.’
He adds: ‘I saw in one smart meter advertisement that Great British Bake Off chef Ian Cumming has discovered that an oven uses a lot of energy and is looking for alternative ways of cooking.
‘Good luck with that, Ian! A microwave may cook a jacket potato in four minutes, but it’s not the same as an oven-baked potato. Also, you can cook several items in an oven at the same time.’
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who thinks their smart meter has saved them money.
Or perhaps you think your new gadget has actually pushed up your bills? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.