Retirement Planning: Your New Year’s Resolution for 2017?

Miss Thrifty6 December 8, 2016


It turns out I’m not the only one with pensions on the brain – or am I? A new study has found that almost half the UK population has an “ostrich mentality” when it comes to saving for the future.

The Skipton Building Society Retirement Tracker, which monitors the retirement savings behaviours of more than 6,000 people up and down the country, has revealed that 48% of us have our heads in the sand when it comes to the dreaded ‘P’ word (pensions), with retirement savings that are either meagre or non-existent.

Skipton Building Society asked me to team up with them to help raise awareness of the dire state of the nation’s retirement savings, and this is a campaign of which I am proud to be a part. Heck, I’ll shout from the rooftops about it! As regular readers will know, retirement is a subject close to my heart: I am currently taking (somewhat overdue) steps to boost my own pension pot.

I must admit, that 48% statistic made me gulp. With no private pension plan and no savings, that is a lot of Ostriches who, if their savings behaviours do not change, will be throwing themselves upon the mercy of the State Pension when they reach retirement. As I have written previously, this is a dangerous game: not only is the State Pension modest but, as hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s have discovered to their horror, governments can move the goalposts and change the eligibility criteria according to their whims.

What saver are you?

The Ostriches are one of five groups of retirement savers identified by the Skipton Building Society Retirement Tracker. The crème de la crème are the Wise Owls.  Members of this group tend to have a “more sophisticated portfolio with a broad range of investments and savings.” Nearly half (47%) are saving to fund retirement through a Cash ISA, more than a third (37%) through a personal pension and almost a third (32%) through investments in stocks and shares.

Are you a Wise Owl? The five groups of retirement savers break down as follows:


Ostrich Mentality (48% of the sample)

·         Not saving for retirement or their savings are falling short

·         The majority have nothing saved to supplement the State Pension


Savings Snails (18% of the sample)

·         Saving the minimum they can afford

·         More than a third (35%) believe their retirement savings will be less than they need by the time they retire

·         At the same time, they have no set target for retirement savings

·         The majority have nothing saved to supplement the State Pension


Money Moles (21% of the sample)

·         No set target for retirement savings

·         They have at least one of the following: company pension, cash ISA, habit of making mortgage overpayments


Squirrel Savers (6% of the sample)

·         Have a set target for retirement savings

·         On track to meet or exceed that target

·         May have taken financial advice

·         Majority (72%) of this group are relying heavily upon company pension schemes to fund retirement

·         Their portfolios may not be as “sophisticated” as those of Wise Owls


Wise Owls (6% of the sample)

·         Have a set target for retirement savings

·         On track to meet or exceed that target

·         Have sought professional finance advice

·         Possess a sophisticated portfolio that includes one of the following: personal pension, investments, stocks and shares


Could this be your New Year’s Resolution?

What jumps out at you about the lists above? What strikes me is that only a third of savers (Money Moles, Squirrel Savers and Wise Owls) are anywhere near having their acts together when it comes to funding retirement. In fact, the Retirement Tracker research shows that more than half (51%) of those who have yet to retire, have nothing saved at all.

With Christmas and the New Year coming up, I’d like to suggest something: for a New Year’s Resolution in 2017, how about ‘branding up’ your retirement savings plan?

We talk about branding down at the supermarket, to save money: opting for a supermarket own-brand in place of a premium brand product, or a value brand item in place of the supermarket own-brand equivalent. What about ‘branding up’ to save money for retirement?

Here is the challenge: determine which type of saver you are, as above. If you emerge as anything other than a Wise Owl, make the resolution to shift yourself to the next level up by the end of the year.

At the beginning of 2016 I was a Savings Snail: saving a minimal amount via a workplace pension scheme, with the uncomfortable feeling that it wasn’t enough. Fast forward to the end of 2016 and I am now a Money Mole, with larger contributions and better savings plans in place, but no fixed targets.  Instead, I’m throwing what I can at it. My resolution for 2017 is to become an organised Squirrel Saver, on track to meet or exceed a fixed savings target.

I’m going to shift to the next level. What about you? Can you do it too? Why be a Snail or an Ostrich, when you can be a canny Squirrel or a clever old Owl?


This post was produced in association with Skipton Building Society. A payment for this post, made on Skipton Building Society’s behalf, is helping to fund the running costs of the Miss Thrifty Blog.   

Image credits: Seattle Municipal Archives. All used under a Creative Commons licence. 

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6 Responses to “Retirement Planning: Your New Year’s Resolution for 2017?

moneycorgi says:


good read although some of the numbers are pretty scary. I think there needs to be some sort of campaign to tell people that pensions should not be plan A. People need to look after and pay for themselves. the pension should be a safety net.

December 10, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

If you mean the UK State Pension, I agree. I also like the emphasis on the Wise Owls’ relatively diverse portfolio of savings and investments: it’s never a good idea to have too many eggs in one pension-shaped basket, as too many retirees have discovered. I’m still in the process of overhauling my own retirement plans, so plenty of inspiration for me here…

December 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Those numbers are scary, but unsurprising unfortunately! I was so late starting my retirement saving and now find myself playing major catch-up. We should be drumming it into people from a much younger age about the importance of preparing for our futures. Far too many Brits are going to reach retirement with nowhere near enough stored away.

December 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm

I know that I NEED a pension. I paid into one for a month before being made redundant, and the annual statements telling me to expect 16p per year in my dotage are pretty depressing.

Yet, I’m disabled and unable to work, now and for the rest of my future (I’m in my early 40s). All I get coming in is my disability living allowance, and money from the council which is ringfenced to pay a carer. Any ideas? I’m not being snarky, I’m genuinely hoping someone from Skipton or similar is reading, since I’m worried about my old age. I need a pension but I have no idea how I could manage to create one.

January 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

Hmm, that’s tough. If you have no income other than DLA & money for a carer, how can you save for retirement? I’m no expert, and I don’t know the nature of your disability; however, since DLA is not means tested, is it possible for you to begin building a nest egg by generating an additional source of income? From blogging, for example, or eBay reselling, or completing surveys online? As small as the amounts are likely to be, at least at first, it all adds up.

February 2, 2017 at 12:15 am

Andrew says:

I started late, panicked as state pension age for me is 68 and I want to retire around 60 but have nothing to bridge that gap of 8 years. I opted for an ISA initially but began to think it was the worst investment ever in terms of return. It made about £50 a year. I’ve emptied my ISA and all of my savings and bought a small rental property which pays off around £3000 a year so effectively makes me £3000 a year if house prices don’t fall dramatically. This works out a lot more in line with me retiring at 60 but I understand it is a little higher risk than an ISA but for the difference in return it’s a risk I’m prepared to take. Ultimately I think people will just be working longer into their lives as a whole.

June 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

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