Successful Retirement: Staying Financially Healthy

We could spend up to one third of our adult life drawing a State Pension. So what options are there to help us stay financially healthy in retirement?

Being a senior citizen brings a range of potential savings

If you are just surviving on your State Pension, this could be especially helpful. Benefits available to retirement-aged people in the UK, depending on their age and circumstances, include:

For Travel

  • Older Person’s Bus Pass - free travel on local buses in England when you reach State Retirement Age (or from age 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  • Senior Railcard – Offers 1/3 off rail tickets for a £30 railcard if you’re 60 or over.

If you live in London there’s a wider range of free public transport available:

  • 60+ London Oyster Photocard –travel for free on bus, tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most off peak National Rail services in London for a £10 administration fee.
  • Freedom Pass - from State Pension Retirement age you can get free travel on buses, the tube, off peak trains, Docklands Light Railway and trams in London.

For Heating, Housing and Health

  • Free TV Licence (over 75s).
  • Winter Fuel Allowance – A tax free payment to help pay your heating bills, depending on your age and situation.
  • Help with Paying for Housing – on low income you can apply for assistance paying rent or mortgages and may get a Council Tax reduction.
  • Free Prescriptions (over 60s)
  • Possibly free Insulation for your home (if you are on selected benefits)

For Leisure

  • Discounted entry to museums and some cinemas (e.g. Odeon's Silver Cinema, Vue's Seniors Cinema Club and Picturehouses's Silver Screen Club - which offer low prices plus usually a free hot drink and a biscuit). 
  • Discounts from some stores (e.g. B & Q’s Diamond Card for over 60s gives a 10% saving on Wednesdays, while Specsavers offer a 25% saving to over 60's who buy their glasses and lenses on a weekday)

Remember to:

  • Claim a single person Council Tax discount if you’re living alone.
  • Get all the occupational pension you are entitled to – by checking with the Pension Tracing Service if you’ve had a range of different employers.

Sources of help

The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide information and advice, through their local branches or their website.

Turn2Us provides customised web searches and a free, confidential telephone helpline. This can help you find support that might be available if you’re in financial difficulty, through welfare benefits, grants and other financial help.

There are even charities set up to help people who have worked in particular occupations (and sometimes their families). Turn2Us can provide information about these too.

Age UK also provides information about money matters on its website.

Cash poor time rich?

If you’re retired you may have more time to look into things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. For example price comparison sites could help you save money on energy bills and insurance. And you may have more time to compare food prices and special offers in local shops and supermarkets, including those only available at specific times.

You can also take advantage of free facilities where they are still available, including possibly local libraries, parks, museums and galleries.   

Does moving home make good financial sense?

Many people can end up asset rich but cash poor - owning a large property but with limited retirement income. Downsizing your home can potentially free-up income that would otherwise be tied up in your home. However, it is important to ask three questions:

  • What will it cost to move (including stamp duty, estate agent and legal fees and removal costs – plus the potential cost of setting up in a new home where some of your existing furnishings may not fit)?
  • What return are you likely to achieve if you save/invest any moneys released after buying a smaller property, given current and anticipated interest rates? 
  • Will a smaller property automatically save money (through e.g. lower maintenance and heating costs and lower Council Tax) or could it cost more (e.g. through service charges for a flat or sheltered accommodation)?

This will help you check how financially worthwhile (or not) downsizing is likely to be for you. 

There are also many non financial factors to consider, like how close you will be to family and friends, how good public transport is, safety and quality of life.

Conclusion

To stay as financially healthy as possible in retirement:

  • Check the range of benefits and discounts available.
  • Seek reliable advice if you’re in financial difficulty
  • Use your greater free time to find bargains
  • Weigh up the pros and cons if you’re considering downsizing

Published May 2014

Reviewed by Christine Gratus February 2017

Next review date January 2020

Retirement Planning at different ages

Pre Retirement Courses

Downsizing – the pros and cons

Royal London Policy Paper
 
Legal & General report  
 
The International Longevity Centre – UK 

Working after State Pension Age

 

State Pension Age Calculator