How to manage your pension in a cost of living crisis

Surprised stressed young african woman calculating expenditures.

The cost of living crisis is affecting everybody. Regardless of your financial status we are all paying more for things than we did last year.  

When it comes to pensions, we understand that not everyone can afford to pay into a pension right now, and that’s ok. Rest assured there are ways you can manage your pension in a cost of living crisis, and the best bit… these won’t cost you a penny!  

1. Update your contact details  

Does your pension provider know how to contact you?  

We’ve all been there. Moved home, ordered something online and forgotten to update our delivery address. By the time we’ve realised, it’s too late and you have to spend hours tracking down that parcel or start all over again. Annoying right? Don’t let your pension become that missing parcel… 

Keeping your personal details up to date means your pension always knows where to find you. 

All you need to do is log into your workplace pension account and double check that your details (including address and telephone number) are up to date. We recommend using your personal email address for your pension account. This means if you decide to leave your job, your pension provider will still be able to contact you.  

2. Update your beneficiaries  

Who gets your pension if you die?  

If you die before you take your pension money, who gets it? It can be one person, more than one person, or a charity.  Make sure you fill in an expression of wish form, naming who you want to get the money. You would not want your hard-earned pension money going to long-forgotten relatives or ex partners.   

3. Are your pension savings on track?  

Do you know how much pension you have? 

If the answer is “no” or “unsure” read on… 

Your pension is a long-term investment for your future. It’s important to understand how much pension you have and what this could pay you in retirement.  

Take advantage of the free resources available. The Money Helper service can offer guidance and provide an opportunity to get a clearer picture of your pension. 

4. Track down any lost pensions 

Have you lost a pension? Maybe you don’t even know! 

On average, people will have 11 jobs throughout their career which might mean you could have 11 pension pots by the time you reach your retirement.  

Here’e how you can track your old pensions: 

  1. We all have that ‘drawer of shame’ in the kitchen; the one where we hide away all our bank statements for a rainy day. Go through old paperwork to find the name of your previous pension providers and email them to find out more about your savings.
  1. Try the government’s free Pension Tracing Service
  1. Contact the company you used to work for to track down a lost workplace pension 

One thing to keep in mind… If you do have old pensions that you’re not paying into, watch out for charges still coming out of them. Bringing old pensions into your current pension could save you money, as you’ll only have one lot of charges.  

5. Are you on-track to receive the full State Pension?  

Have you ever had any breaks from paying your National Insurance contributions? 

The amount of State Pension you’ll receive in retirement is based on the amount of National Insurance (NI) contributions that you’ve paid in throughout your working life.  

NEW rules coming into effect on 5 April 2023 mean you will only be able to buy back six years of missing NI years.

If you don’t have enough qualifying years to get a full State Pension, you may be able to make up gaps in your NI contribution record by paying voluntary contributions. 

Check your State Pension forecast – it’s free and easy to use and will show you what State Pension you will likely receive in your retirement, as well as any missing NI years that you may need to fill.