Whether you have a private pension or not, it’s all too easy to put off making any decisions about how you will manage financially when you retire. But doing a few simple things can make a huge difference to the pension benefits you could enjoy when you eventually stop working.

Take stock of some pension basics you need to know with a few tips on things you should do now to plan ahead for retirement.

1. The Sooner You Save, the Better

If retirement seems a long way off, you maybe asking the question, ‘why bother start saving for a pension now?’ Well, the fact is we are living longer and you need to think about how you will afford to cover the cost of those years when you retire. See here for 6 reasons you should be saving into a pension now.

2. Don’t Take Your state Pension for Granted

Most people will get some State Pension, but don’t assume you will get a full State Pension as there are certain eligibility criteria. To get the full State Pension you need a total of 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits.

If you have fewer than 30 qualifying years, your basic State pension will be less. You usually need at least 10 years on your National Insurance (NI) record to get any State Pension. It is a good idea to check your National Insurance record (you can do that here). The sooner you do this the better as you may be able to pay voluntary NI contributions to fill in any gaps.

If you are approaching retirement, you can check your State Pension here or contact the Future Pension Centre to get more information.

3. Stay Enrolled in Your Workplace Scheme

Automatic enrolment is a piece of legislation introduced by Government in 2008 that requires employers to automatically enrol eligible staff into a pension scheme and make contributions towards it. The initiative was designed to encourage workers to save more towards retirement. The legislation makes it compulsory for all eligible workers to be opted into a workplace pension scheme.

You can opt out of the scheme, but it is important to understand that by doing so you may lose out on valuable retirement benefits. See here for more information on opting out.

4. Save More if Possible

One of the reasons you may want to consider saving more into your pension if you can afford to is because pensions are a tax-efficient form of saving. You receive tax relief on money you pay into your pension. Find out more about pensions and tax relief here.

5. It’s Never Too Late to Start

If you don’t have a private pension or any savings it’s never too late to start. Obviously, someone who is 45 will have to save a lot more each month than someone who is 20, but it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. Even saving a little each month and increasing it as finances allow is better than not starting at all.

One survey carried out by The London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) on 2,000 people aged 50 and above, who had at least £50,000 in assets, found that 35 per cent of respondents were worried about how they will financially manage when they retire.

There are hurdles to be faced by later-life savers, especially for savers who are extremely risk averse. The Bank of England base rate has just risen to 0.75 per cent, the highest it has been for nearly a decade, but this is being offset by inflation, meaning cautious savers could end up with less spending power as a result.

6. Seek Independent Advice

Seeking professional advice on your pension is a good idea. Pensions have become much more complicated in recent years.Whether you are approaching retirement or want some advice on how best to manage your finances and save for your future, an Independent Financial Adviser will be able to help you keep your retirement plans on track.