There has rarely been a time when pensions have been so high on the political and social agenda. As the Government cuts back on public sector spending, people who have retired are looking to make their income stretch that little bit further.

When it comes to pension planning there are some fundamental actions that can be taken to help boost your income in retirement.

Start young

It pays to start saving early. Those that can afford to put aside money for their pension in their early 20’s will have a significant head start on those who start saving later in life. Even small amounts can make a big difference if starting early. This is known as the cost of delay and can have a significant impact on the size of the pension fund at retirement.

If your Employer offers you a pension, take it!

We still hear of people who have access to a Company pension scheme but do not join. Most employers will contribute to your pension as a percentage of salary and also request that you contribute an amount. It almost always makes sense to take up the Employer’s pension offer. Even where the Employer doesn’t contribute it can make sense to pay into the pension. By doing so contributions will be deducted from salary and you will get into the habit of saving for retirement.

It’s not just about a pension plan

There are other ways of saving for retirement which may be appropriate. ISA’s offer tax breaks and can be an attractive way of saving. Many people also look at their business as a retirement asset and property can also have a role in providing retirement planning. Even those considered to be in generous pension schemes such as final salary schemes should plan ahead and take a holistic view of retirement planning.

Work longer

May not be everyone’s ideal but if your retirement income doesn’t match the lifestyle that you want, then consider working longer. Many people have unrealistic expectations of retiring early or retiring on an income that is unattainable. Those extra couple of years working may make all the difference.

Make the most of your options at retirement

Many people spend their life diligently saving for retirement only for them to buy an uncompetitive annuity at retirement. An annuity is an income for life and a one off decision; getting this wrong can wipe thousands off your retirement income. There are increasingly more options available at retirement. All options should be carefully considered before any commitment is made.

Seek advice

At whatever stage you’re at it is important to be making the right decisions. Getting these decisions wrong can have a significant impact on your retirement. In any event it pays to seek the advice of an independent financial adviser.