Value of wardrobe contents vs pension, which wins?

Women organising clothes from wardrobe
  • Two in five (42%) respondents admit they don’t know the value of their accumulated pension pots
  • One in four (23%) do not know what type of pensions they hold
  • 4 in 10 (40%) people don’t know how much they should be saving into a pension to have the lifestyle they want in retirement
  • Less than a third (28%) is saving at least 12% into a pension every month from their salary

New research from Aviva reveals that people in the UK are almost as likely to know the value of the contents of their wardrobe (34%) as they are to know the value of their pensions (38%).

In fact, many more people are likely to know the value of their house (58%), car (55%) and television (63%) than the value of their pension, which is often their single largest asset after their home.

Just over two in five (42%) respondents admit they don’t know the value of their accumulated pension pots, and 60% don’t know how much their pots would equate to in a retirement income or annuity when they do retire. This figure rises to 67% of 45-54 year olds and 69% of women.

Furthermore, almost one in four (23%) do not know what type of pension(s) they hold (i.e. final salary, SIPP, Trust scheme) in addition to any state pension entitlement, rising to almost a third (32%) of those aged 35-44. Those who are aware of the type of pension they have are, perhaps unsurprisingly, those aged 55 and over, with valuable defined benefit, or final salary, pensions.

Aviva’s study has also found that 4 in 10 (40%) people don’t know how much they should be saving into a pension to have the lifestyle they want in retirement, this figure increases to almost half (49%) of 35-44 year olds.

Aviva recommends that savers should follow ‘Three Rules of Thumb’ when it comes to saving into a pension: 

  • Actively save for your retirement at least 40 years before your target retirement date. To retire at 60 start saving at 20 years old.
  • Try to save at least 12% of your salary into your pension every month - this can include money from your employer as well.
  • Aim to have the equivalent of 10 times your salary in your pension pot by the time you want to retire.
Overall, a third of those surveyed (33%) say they do not do any of these. Only one in four (23%) is actively trying to save for 40 years, less than a third(28%) aresaving at least 12% into a pension every month from their salary, and only one in seven (15%) are currently aiming to have saved the equivalent of ten times their salary into a pension by the time they retire.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva said: “There is no silver bullet that will help us short circuit the journey into retirement. But that does not mean we are powerless to act. The most positive action we can take today is to take control of our savings - consider where we want to get to in retirement and understand where we are starting from. We can then plan how to bridge the gap. It’s never too late to start saving and planning.

"The most positive action we can take today is to take control of our savings."

“Start by finding out how much you are likely to receive in a state pension, then spend some time reviewing your pension statements and find out the latest values – you may find you have several if you have moved jobs many times. Once you have the value of your various pots, use a simple pension calculator, like Avvia’s retirement planner, to work out what your pension might be worth when you retire.

“Previous research from Aviva showed that, amongst retirees, those who began planning early were nearly twice as content with their financial situation than those who made no plans. Finding time to plan may be the best investment we can make.”

Actions to help boost your pension pot:

  1. Check your State Pension forecast – to see how much you can expect to receive in your state pension at retirement age.  
  2. Tax boosts: For every £8 you save into a pension, the tax man adds at least another £2. An extra £2 from the taxman for forty years, could boost the value of your pension by more than £10,000.
  3. Employer contributions: It is the law that every employer in the UK must provide their eligible staff with a workplace pension through auto-enrolment. They must contribute a minimum 3% into your pension. Try to maximise your contributions to maximise your employer’s boost. A generous contribution from your employer will make it a lot easier to hit the 12% target.
  4. Keep checking: Saving for your retirement should not be a “set and forget” activity. Use your annual statement to check that you’re on track for your retirement target.
  5. Budget and save: Every penny saved today can be used to fund your desired retirement tomorrow. And the more you save the sooner you should reach your target.
  6. Reframe your expectations: The long-standing state pension ages of 60 for women and 65 for men were set in the 1940s. Life expectancy today means you could live for at least another 20 years past this age. Focus on your expected full life, not just your expected working life.
  7. Shop around: When it comes to retiring there are various pension providers willing to help. The retirement incomes they offer in return for your amassed pension pot may differ. Find the best deal for you by shopping around.
Other useful, and free, websites for people looking to review their pension or work out what to do next with their money includes: Pension Wise – offering free guidance, for those aged 50 and over, about accessing pension savings. The Money Advice Service – provides free information about all issues related to money or if you think you need the help finding a financial adviser go to: financial adviser. For those already in their mid-life years Aviva’s free Mid-Life MOT app can be accessed here.


Research commissioned by Aviva was carried out by Censuswide between 21st and 23rd July 2021 of 2007 nationally represented consumers. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


Media Enquiries

Fiona Whytock

Retirement, Savings and Investments

Notes to editors:

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