September 15th is Pension Awareness Day and when I found out the tour bus would be in Kings Cross on that day I thought it would be a good excuse to take a trip to London.
I’d been planning it all week. I decided that I’d prepare for my trip by taking my pension paperwork with me.
Of course it wasn’t until I was in bed on Friday night that I remembered I hadn’t gone through my filing. I would have plenty of time in the morning so I wasn't worried.
The first thing I did when I woke up was to go to my filing to get hold of my work pension and private pension information. Luckily because of my recent decluttering I found them very quickly.
I would be traveling by public transport and checked online to find out if it would be cheaper to use my contactless or oyster card. No difference because there is a daily off peak cap of £9.80 for either. A travel card would cost £12 for the day so that was a £2.20 saving.
I didn’t want to be caught short whilst out so I packed a flask of hot water and peppermint tea bags, an orange, oat biscuits and a Slimming World Hi Fi Light bar.
Oh yes, a portable charger for my iphone and my wireless headphones. I packed wired ones too just in case. I planned to listen to podcasts whilst walking and read a book on the train journey. I took Business Boutique by Christy Wright.
As I got to the top of the stairs at Kings Cross from the underground the Pension Awareness Bus was there right in front of me. I took a picture.
There wasn’t a lot of people around. I wasn’t surprised really. It was only about 10:30 am on a Saturday morning and I guess not that many people would be rushing to find out about their pensions.
As a approached the bus a smartly dressed young woman walked towards me and asked if I wanted some help. I said yes and she took me into the bus.
We went upstairs. I thought that I don’t usually travel on the top of the bus if I can help it but this one was stationary so I felt quite safe. She introduced herself as Kaya and we sat down.
I found the whole experience very useful and interesting. I’ve been doing my own research about pensions over the past months but there is nothing like speaking to someone face to face. Some of the information I knew but I did find out some things that I did not know.
I had brought some information about my personal and work pension and so was able to ask some specific questions to get clarity. I now have a better understanding of some of the terminology used in the pension world.
I told Kaya that I had a blog and asked if she’d answer some general questions to share with my readers. Now I must admit that although I was taking notes some of what I wrote was unreadable.
This is what I was able to decipher from my notes:
Q. What are the main concerns that people over 50 have about pensions?
A. People have more than one pension and don’t know how to trace them. They don’t know how much money they’ll need in retirement. They don’t know how much they should be saving.
They don’t know what they can do with their pension. People tend to stick with one provider and should be willing to shop around to get the best from their savings. People underestimate how long they will live for after retirement. People don’t understand what their needs will be in retirement.
Q. What advice would you give to people over 50 who are worried about their pension
1. It is never too late to start. Look at your budget and start saving. Live within your means.
2. There are choices where you can invest your money.
3. Boost your company pension although it is not always possible.
4. Access impartial advice e.g.
- Pension Advisory Service Helpline,
- Money Advice Service website toolbox - there is a section on pensions and retirement
- Pension Calculation Tool - check your state pension forecast.
Before I left I was given some freebies … of course.
Pension Awareness Day bracelette - here it is on my wrist.
Pension Geeks Glasses - how do I look?
Scottish Widows Pack - “Helping You Towards Pension Wellbeing” Which is a retirement planning resource really. It is divided into 4 sections:
1. What have I got?
2. Am I on track? Is it enough?
3. What do I need to do next?
There is a note pad section for taking notes. I kinda wished I was given the pack at the beginning of the talk so that I could write notes in here. There’s also a nifty budget planner section too. Enough sheets for 10 months. Yes I counted. Each sheet headed “Too much month left at the end of the money? Not if I can help it with my new budgeting habits.All in all I had an enjoyable time at the Pension Awareness Day Tour Bus at Kings Cross. Kaya even agreed to have her picture taken with me.
As I was in London I decided to visit Leicester Square. Gosh I used to come here often as a teenager and in my 20s.
I watched some of the street entertainment. They really know how to work a crowd.
I'm not sure what his act was but just thought I'd take a picture.
Now this guy was a real laugh. If kept us hanging on and took fun of the audience. He did a bit of body popping and even spun on his head.
I'm a Star Wars fan so had to take this picture ...
... and of course my favourite character Yoda!
Then I walked to St James’s park. The weather was lovely. The sun shone. It was just the right temperature. I recorded an audio for my podcast.
I sat for a while on a bench by the lake and read my book.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day.
The Freedom At 55 Project is my journey to become more money savvy following the breakup of my relationship in my 55th year. I share what I learn about saving money, retirement planning, pensions and living a simpler life. I want you to know there is hope. It starts with reconnecting with your true self and deciding to take charge of your life.