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?
This page gives you some useful information and tips:
- Being a senior citizen brings a range of potential savings
- Where you can get help
- Cash poor, time rich?
- Does moving home make good financial sense?
- Equity release
Being a senior citizen brings a range of potential savings
If you are just surviving on your State Pension, this range of savings could be especially helpful. Benefits available to retirement age people in the UK, depending on age and circumstances, include savings on:
- Heating and housing
- Health and fitness
- Older Person’s Bus Pass – free travel on local buses in England when you reach State Pension age (or from age 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
- Senior Railcard offers the over 60s one third off national rail tickets, except during the morning peak period. The cost is £30 for a year.
And if you live in London, there’s a wider range of free public transport available:
- 60+ London Oyster Photocard – travel for free from 9 am every weekday, and anytime on weekends and bank holidays on bus, tube, tram, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and most off-peak national rail services in London. There is a £20 administration fee.
- London Freedom Pass – from the State Pension age, you can travel free on buses, the tube, off peak trains, Docklands Light Railway and trams in London, and free local bus journeys nationally.
(Note: during the Covid-19 pandemic this benefit has been temporarily suspended during morning peak hours.)
Heating and housing
- Winter Fuel Payment – An annual tax-free payment to help pay your heating bills (usually £100 – £300 per person, depending on your age and situation).
- Help with paying for housing – on low income and over State Pension age you can apply for Housing Benefit to assist payment of rent or mortgages, and you may get a Council Tax reduction.
- Possibly free Insulation for your home (if you are on selected benefits).
- Free TV Licence – if you are at least 75 years old and receive Pension Credit.
- Free Prescriptions and NHS sight tests (for the over 60s).
- Specsavers and Boots both offer savings to over 60s who buy complete glasses and lenses.
- An Advantage Card at Boots is a loyalty card that will give you extra savings on everything you buy, as well as offering other benefits such as health and beauty advice and an online newsletter.
- Some private gyms and local council-funded gyms offer discounted membership and classes to the over 60s.
- Discounted entry to some cinemas, museums and heatres.
- Discounted meals and ‘specials’ at pubs and restaurants. For instance, Hungry Horse restaurant/pubs offer discounted meals from Monday to Friday, and some other pubs offer ‘pensioner meals’ on certain days of the week.
- Online voucher deals for a variety of goods and services can be found on websites such as www.vouchercodes.co.uk. These offers might include gardening, clothing, ‘experiences’ and electronics.
Some more tips: You can also…
- Claim a single person Council Tax discount if you’re living alone.
- Get any occupational pension you are entitled to by checking with the Pension Tracing Service. This may be especially helpful if you’ve had a number of different employers.
- Ask whether a retailer or a service provider offers a discount; they can only say no, but they may just say yes!
Where you can get help
If you need helpful information or advice about money matters, these websites offer a wide range of practical tools and useful tips.
Provides information and advice through its local branches or its website on benefits, work, debt and money, consumer issues, family, housing, law and the courts, immigration, and health.
Provides an ‘A-Z of Welfare Benefits’ and a free, confidential telephone helpline.
Turn2Us can help you find support for welfare benefits, grants and other financial matters that might be available if you’re in financial difficulty.
Age UK also offers a benefits calculator on its website and provides information about coronavirus (COVID-19), money and legal, health, care and support, work and learning, and travel and hobbies.
‘Cutting your costs, fighting your corner.’
This website offers advice on all things financial, including cards and loans, household bills, banking and saving, mortgages and homes, and many other financial products and services.
Charity Choice is the UK’s leading charity directory.
Some charities can help people who have worked in particular occupations, and can sometimes help their families too.
Cash poor, time rich?
When you’re retired you may have more time to look into those things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. For example, searching price comparison sites could help you save money on energy bills and insurance. You may also have more time to compare food prices and to look for special offers in local shops and supermarkets, including those offers only available at specific times.
You can also take advantage of free leisure facilities, including local libraries, parks, museums and galleries.
Does moving home make good financial sense?
Many people can end up ‘asset rich but cash poor’, for instance, owning a large property but having a limited retirement income. Moving to a smaller home could potentially free up equity that would otherwise be tied up in your home. However, it is important to ask three questions:
|1.What would it cost to move?||
The costs of moving would include stamp duty, estate agent and legal fees, and removal costs.
|2. What return are you likely to achieve?||
Your returns would be based on the equity (monies) released after buying a smaller property and the interest rate at which that equity is invested.
|3. Will a smaller property automatically save you money?||
A smaller property may save you money immediately, for instance through lower maintenance, lower heating costs and lower Council Tax.
Answering these questions will help you check how financially worthwhile (or not) moving to a small house is likely to be for you.
There are also many non-financial factors to consider, such as how close you will be to family and friends, how good the local public transport is, safety and quality of life.
Equity release is a way to unlock the value of your property and turn it into cash.
A provider pays you a tax-free lump sum for a portion of your home at below market value. You can then live rent free in the property until you die or move into long-term care. At this stage, the proceeds of the final sale (based on the percentage of ownership) are then divided between you (or your estate) and the lender.
It is very important that you get independent financial advice if you are considering equity release.
If you decide to opt for equity release, make sure you deal with a provider that is approved by the Equity Release Council.
Some equity release lenders offer an exemption called ‘downsizing protection’, which allows clients to pay back their equity release early when they move home, without incurring any early repayment charges. Check if you’re eligible for downsizing protection, so that if you later decide to downsize you can repay your loan without incurring extra costs.
It’s also worth remembering that having cash rather than a property can affect the benefits you’re entitled to.
To stay as financially healthy as possible in retirement:
- Check the range of benefits and discounts available to you.
- Seek reliable advice if you’re in financial difficulty.
- Use your greater free time to find bargains and to save money.
- Weigh up the pros and cons carefully if you’re considering moving to a smaller home or thinking about equity release.
Reviewed and updated by Barbara Baker, February 2022. Next review date, January 2026.