While it is a hard time to save, starting your retirement savings journey now could be the best decision you ever make.

This month’s 8.5 per cent increase in the state pension will be a welcome boost to many, but the new total of just over £11,500 a year still falls well short of what’s needed for a comfortable ’Golden Age’.

In this month’s column, we look at the role savings can play to help fund a happy retirement.

How do you plan to spend your retirement years? After decades of work, many of us dream of long holidays, time with friends and family, and a well-earned rest for our ‘Golden Age’.

But funding our retirement is something we need to prioritise as early as possible, if we want our golden years to be enjoyed to the full, rather than filled with financial worries.

There are currently 15.5 million people aged 60 or over in the UK, and that number is growing as more people live into their 80s and 90s.

Those reaching the age of 65 today can expect to have 20 or more years of retirement, so it’s important to be aware of the financial challenges and look to build healthy savings habits as early as possible.

A recent report by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association* found that a single person needs an annual income of £31,300 for a ‘moderate’ income in retirement, while couples need £43,100.

These budgets rise to £43,100 per year (single person) and £59,000 per year (couple) for those wanting a ‘comfortable’ retirement – with overseas holidays, meals out and the freedom to be generous when making gifts to the family.

And here lies the biggest challenge facing many retirees. It’s very difficult to foresee things like the rising cost of food and energy, which is hitting the over-60s hard at the moment, but when this is coupled with a need to support loved ones as well, it adds pressure onto the retirement budget.

Many of those saving for retirement have had to focus as much on the financial challenges facing their parents, children, and grandchildren as they do on their own needs, meaning the allowance needs to stretch much further in today’s climate.

Pensioners are becoming the ‘squeezed’ generation, being forced to choose between funding their own retirement plans against supporting their loved ones.

One of the ways to avoid stretching your resources in retirement is to start saving smarter today. When looking ahead to later-life planning, it’s important to plot out your priorities and act accordingly. But what does this mean in practice?

Navigating the savings scene can be complex, with so many options out there. It’s all too easy to lose track of what’s what, potentially missing out on maximising your savings potential. But the aim should be a healthy private pension and a robust savings plan that at least keeps up with inflation.

One immediate next step is to take the time to organise a savings health check. We offer free Financial Wellbeing Reviews, during which we provide options to help you with your short, medium and long-term savings goals (including retirement). We can also put you in touch with third-party financial advisors.

Considering a Financial Wellbeing Review? Pop into a branch, chat with us, or explore more on our website: www.saffronbs.co.uk/savings/tips-tools-support/financial-wellbeing-reviews.

And if you’ve got questions or ideas for our next column, drop us a line at askkial@saffronbs.co.uk.