Half of over 50s regret not saving into their pension sooner

Older man working on laptop
  • 64% think they should have paid a larger contribution towards their pension at an earlier stage
  • More than one in four (26%) did not contribute to their pension until after their 30th birthday
  • Almost 2 in 5 (39%) believe they will only need between £10,000-£20,000 per year for a ‘comfortable’ retirement
  • Almost a quarter (24%) think that between 0-5% of salary is an ‘appropriate and achievable’ contribution towards their pension

New research into the attitudes of the over 50s towards their pension has uncovered that half (49%) regret not saving into their pension sooner, and almost two thirds (64%) wish they had contributed more into their retirement savings at an earlier stage.

A quarter (26%) of participants in Aviva’s survey stated that they only started paying into their pension after they turned 30 years old, primarily because they did not feel financially stable enough to contribute any sooner (51%).  Many, understandably, prioritised raising children (42%) and paying off their mortgages (40%) before putting any surplus cash into their pension.  However, a third put leisure / holidays (32%); clothing (21%) and their pets (10%) before their retirement income.  

Almost four in ten (39%) people over the age of 50  believe that an income of  between £10,000 - £20,000 per annum in retirement will be enough to live ‘comfortably’. This is despite figures announced by The Pension and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) in October 20211 stating that £20,800pa will only provide an individual with a ‘moderate’ standard of living in retirement. To enjoy a ‘comfortable’ standard of living the PLSA suggests this would increase to £33,600 per year.

A quarter (24%) of those aged over 50 believe that a personal contribution of between 0-5% of their salary is an ‘appropriate and achievable’ level to attain a savings pot big enough to support them in retirement. This is some way off the 12% target that Aviva believes should be a minimum people need to save to avoid disappointment.     

When asked about financial advice, more than 70% of over 50s say they have never sought financial advice regarding their pension. Almost a third (30%) say they feel they know what they are doing and don’t need financial support, 10% say they rely on their family and friends for support and advice. However, after hearing that they could add as much as £47,000 to their pension2 (over a decade) by taking financial advice, half of them say they would.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva says, “Pensions are more important to more of us than ever before.  Automatic enrolment has brought pension savings to millions, but this was only introduced a decade ago and for many, especially those over the age of 50,  it is perhaps too little, too late.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and life in your 20s and 30s can often take over, with children to raise, debts to pay and holidays to be had.  However, it’s important to take stock of your financial situation early. You may not think you have enough spare cash, or that you have years until you retire, but as we found with our survey, most people over the age of fifty (64%) wished that they had paid more into their pension pot, sooner. 

“It’s also important that people are realistic about how much they might need to live on in retirement. With more people continuing to pay rent or mortgages after they finish working3, it is unlikely that an income of between £10,000 - £20,000 per year will be sufficient to have a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle. To avoid sleepwalking into retirement it’s important to understand how much you have in your pension, what that money might look like as retirement income and how long you might need that money to last.”

The good news is that there is an plenty of help available. The financial advice community helps thousands of people every year; there is also free help from the government in the form of the Pension Tracing service,  Money and Pension Service,  MoneyHelper and Pension Wise and Aviva’s own Mid Life MOT app also provides 45+ year olds with a free  online check up of work, wealth and wellbeing.  



1,034 UK adults over the age of 50 (retired and non-retired) interviewed between 31.01.2022 - 07.02.2022


1.       https://www.retirementlivingstandards.org.uk/news/retirement-living-standards-updated-to-reflect

2.       https://ilcuk.org.uk/financial-advice-provides-47k-wealth-uplift-in-decade/

3.       https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42193251

Media Enquiries

Fiona Whytock

Retirement, Savings and Investments

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