Now is the time to start
Whatever age you are, you should consider setting up a pension. The longer you leave it, the more you need to save each month to provide for a comfortable retirement. Putting it off for a few years can have a huge effect on your fund value at retirement.
Could you live on the state pension of €12,000 per year?
The state pension is currently €230.30 per week (or a tenner extra if you are over 80) – which is considerably less than the minimum wage. Could you live on that income? More importantly, could you live comfortably on it?
Think about your living costs. While your mortgage may be paid off when you retire, you still need to pay for heating, electricity, food, and having a life, not to mention costs that are likely to increase as you get older such as medical expenses.
We also need to ask, what will the state pension be in the future? We have an aging population in Ireland, so will the state be able to afford to maintain the state pension at a reasonable level when the number of retired people increases compared to the working population who pay tax to pay to fund their pensions?
The state pension age is increasing
Traditionally, people retired and received their state pension at 65.
However, in 2014 the government changed the rules to increase the retirement age. If you were born after 1961, your state pension age is now 68.
There is no guarantee that the retirement age of 68 won’t be pushed back even further.
In fact, due to Ireland’s aging population, there will be only three people working for each retired person in 2060 (according to the Central Statistics Office) compared to about five now, so it’s difficult to see how the state pension will be funded in the future.
Life expectancy is increasing
Due to advances in medicine and healthier living, people in Ireland are living longer. Life expectancy for men is currently 80 and for women it’s 83. It’s possible that you could live for 20-25 in retirement (or even longer). While that’s great news, it means that we need to save more money while we’re working to provide a decent standard of living when we retire.
Benefits of a pension
The Government want you to save for retirement so they provide big tax incentives for pensions. Pensions qualify for favourable tax treatment in 3 ways:
- Your contributions receive tax relief at your marginal rate. If you are a higher income tax payer, you’ll receive 40% tax relief on each contribution – so every €100 that is paid into your pension, only costs you €60. Lower rate income tax payers receive relief at 20%.
- Your pension fund grows tax free.
- You can claim a tax free lump sum on retirement of up to 25% of your savings.
Tax Relief Example: If you contribute €1000 into a pension, you’d get €400 tax relief (if your marginal tax rate is at 40%) or €200 tax relief (if you pay standard rate tax)