University challenge: why students must be brutal when choosing their degree

New students are just shaking off their hangovers from Freshers Week, but for their parents the worry about how to pay for university has only just begun. So this may be a good time to remind ourselves of the ‘great tuition fee disaster’, and what it might teach us about the importance of being financially calculating in this world – even as innocent youngsters.

iona bain

I vividly remember marching against the first turn of the screw, when the government allowed tuition fees to rise to £3,000, about 10 years ago. I was 16 years old and, even then, I failed to see why Labour would renege on its manifesto promise. How a fee increase could fit in with the relentless drive to push school leavers towards university. My parents were just as angry.

Ten years later and I feel much the same (as does my family), which is quite remarkable given that time could have softened our views.

Anybody with a son or daughter at university right now will know that sinking feeling when their offspring received the all-important acceptance letter. Pride can turn to horror when school leavers realise that they are shackling themselves to a debt potentially lasting decades if their course results in a decent job. It is small wonder that there is deep mistrust and cynicism towards the establishment as a result of how this area was thoughtlessly handled. Indeed, it went some way towards shoring up the nationalists’ mighty support among young Scots in the independence referendum. Students north of the border have been enjoying fee-free university education since devolution, to the chagrin of their English counterparts.

To cap it all, this whole wretched policy has turned out to be “financially unworkable”, according to MPs. The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee recently warned that a whole swath of student debt would never be paid back, when the national budget needs every penny.

Decisions taken to ease the blow of higher fees – only tapping graduates for repayments when they earn above a certain threshold – are coming back to bite the government. For many young workers, salaries are not proving to be as handsome as we thought.

Meanwhile, the march of the self-employed could allow lots of debt to slip under the radar. Under the current student loan system in England, the government now loses about 45p on every £1 it lends. This is far higher than the 28 per cent originally predicted. Around 6 per cent of graduates leave the country, out of sight of the Student Loans Company.

But there is a silver lining. The student loan farce should concentrate our minds when it comes to picking universities. As I see it, a degree is not a universal human right – it is a transaction. A good degree is a sound investment. A dumbed-down, unrecognised qualification is essentially worthless. Let us not forget that universities are also commercial enterprises with a vested interest in selling us their products.

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Filed under Economy, Employment, Politics, Student Finance

The vital opportunity totally missed by Zoella and other beauty vloggers

cOULD vloggers USE their immense INFLUENCE TO DISCUSS THE MATERIALISTIC PRESSURES FACED BY YOUNG PEOPLE?

IONA BAIN

It’s hard to comprehend a time when the internet didn’t completely dominate our existence. When I was a teenager, the internet was just in its infancy – viral videos and social media were but a twinkle in the eye. How things change. Take the gobsmacking influence of Zoella, for instance. Unless you have made a nice home for yourself under a rock in recent months, you will have heard lots about Youtube’s biggest hair and make-up ‘vlogger’. She has millions of subscribers, mainly in their teens, who idolise her beauty tips and obviously think the world of her.

So little wonder that an article in the Independent today, which criticised Zoella’s brand of “sickly sweet” feminism, provoked a furious backlash. Yet it alluded to a very real concern that we shouldn’t dismiss just because of Zoella’s undeniable achievements and commendable intentions.

Unlike the Indie journalist in question, I have no intention of personally criticising Zoella, who brings joy to many and has done much to raise awareness of mental health among teenagers. What I will say, in general, is that beauty vloggers alone take up an incredible share of young people’s attention these days, squeezing out space for other voices who could engage a whole generation on topics that are vitally important to their future – sound money management being just one.

I know what you’re thinking at this point. Who on earth would subscribe to a channel that talked about savings or debt? Isn’t it normal for teenagers to obsess about their appearance and go online for beauty tips? And aren’t I just “well jel” that the likes of Zoella can command such a huge following?!

You’d be totally forgiven if any of those thoughts crossed your mind. So let me tell you where I got all my kicks, and vital information about the world, during my adolescence – hopefully it will say something about the modern influences being brought to bear on teenagers and whether they’re conducive to healthy money management.

My parents were an essential source of advice when I was a teenager, whether that related to bullying over my hair colour or history homework. Yes, there were dreadful arguments and misunderstandings between us. But only they could help me to see through overwhelming peer pressure so I could develop my true talents and interests. My hormonally-hijacked social group also played a huge role, perhaps alarmingly so, in moulding my teenage brain, but given how my friends have grown up to be well-adjusted people who haven’t fallen off the rails, I don’t feel this was unduly harmful.

But still, how on earth did I spend my spare time if I couldn’t watch online videos about the perfect smoky eye? Well, we had these things called magazines and TV programmes – I believe they’re still around.

I remember buying Twinkle when I was REALLY wee (yes, that was a real magazine) before graduating to Girl Talk and then Shout. Apart from my friends and parents, these rather innocent magazines were my only source of information about hair, make-up and adolescent issues which I shall gloss over to spare our collective blushes. And you may not believe that I was an avid fan of Blue Peter, Grange Hill and Byker Grove for most of my school days – but it’s true.

But what about role models – what did I do before beauty vloggers and lifestyle bloggers came along? Well, I talked and listened to the people around me, picking up their wrong-headed views and cringeworthy mistakes along the way – my appearance and social interactions particularly bore the brunt of that painful process. I bought cheapo make-up with my pocket money, experimented with certain looks and looked a total prat most of the time. But all those missteps and experiments helped me grow. The sky didn’t fall in – I learned not to take it too seriously. Most importantly, I realised that I didn’t need to spend too much money to be happy in my own skin and pursue my passions.

So let’s talk about the opportunities missed by the likes of Zoella, who is undoubtedly very influential and has truly mastered the internet as a platform to reach teenagers. Couldn’t these role models use their position to talk about the materialistic, consumerist pressures faced by young people? Can’t they share nuanced, creative strategies for dealing with them?

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a high profile vlogger to help their followers question why they spend in order to avoid storing up huge problems in the future? I’d love to see one endorse a more budget-focused approach to shopping where true, long-term value takes centre stage.

Let’s get one thing straight – nobody wants to watch dry lectures about finance. That’s why masterclasses on contouring rather than credit dominate our digital highways and byways.

I wonder, though, if many online gurus are prescribing certain products, brands and ‘looks’ in a relentless march towards an unrealistic and expensive form of aesthetic perfectionism.

Are they aware of how much it will cost their fans, in the long run, to pursue their looks to the same degree of professionalism? Are they advocating any cheap or free strategies to alleviate the financial burden that product ‘junkies’ would otherwise face?

Young people need all the help they can get to master their budgets and make their money go further. They need constant reminders to think for themselves, not accept the word of advertisers or brand ambassadors. They have to realise what THEY personally value in this world in order to become functioning adults.

So let’s hope greater financial education, officially on the English curriculum for the first time this year, will make teenagers think carefully about the messages flashing across their computer screens.

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Good Money Week: Banking options that will ease your conscience (exclusive report)

Young Money is changing: we’re going to feature new young voices on the blog every month – original, engaging and fascinating posts from up and coming writers who have joined the Young Money mission. This week, we’re introducing David Graves, a rising young journalist who gives us his take on Good Money Week and how to manage your finances ethically…

By David Graves

Headshot 2

‘Choosing which bank to open a current account with can be confusing at the best of times.’ OK, so it sounds like a cheesy line from a TV ad, but it’s true. There are countless current and student accounts available, all competing for young people’s money.

As though it weren’t bad enough trying to figure out which bank offers the best interest rate, the least terrifying overdraft charges and the most helpful customer service, increasingly we also want to know our money will be used ethically.

The Great British Money Survey recently found that 58 percent of 18 – 24 year-olds would be unhappy if they found out their money was being used to fund unethical activities. And many banks are now capitalising on this trend by bigging up their ethical credentials.

“As a financial services group our direct impact on the environment in terms of climate change… is limited,” claims one. Another sells itself as “managing the climate change risks of our operations and those of our clients”. One even switched off the lights for an hour in offices across 51 countries to support the WWF’s Earth Hour campaign.

♥♡♥♡ Awareness can save the earth. (by Fulvio G.m. Vignapiano, Italy) ♥♡♥♡

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That’s Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC respectively, all among the top 20 banks financing coal fired electricity and coal mining since 2005. With claims that sometimes don’t match up to reality, it can be really hard to figure out who is offering a truly ethical option.

Until recently the Co-operative Bank might have been the obvious choice. But following a calamitous year, the bank is now mainly owned by private investors, which include profit-hungry hedge funds – hardly renowned as stalwarts of ethical capitalism.

With Good Money Week in full swing this week, there’s never been a better time to investigate the ethical banking alternatives. Campaign group Move Your Money UK have made it easy to compare just how ethical different banks and building societies are, having devised a ratings system across a range of criteria.

So here’s the low-down on a few of the highest scoring current accounts and a look at some of the facilities young people use most often…

Save the earth it's the only planet with chocolate

Reliance Bank

Reliance Bank, originally called The Salvation Army Bank, are committed to “stand out as a bank with a Christian and ethical conscience” and to generating income for the Salvation Army.

Reliance won’t deal with companies “involved in the manufacture of armaments, alcoholic drinks or tobacco products, repressive entities or those who do not respect human rights or do not operate in a socially responsible manner” according to their annual report, and Move Your Money awarded them 92/100 for their ethics. They also received full marks for customer service.

Their current account offers 0.05% interest on all balances – modest, but better than many major high street banks – and a debit card and online banking are available. They don’t provide any credit cards, but that may be a blessing in disguise! Planned overdrafts are charged at 5.5%, and unplanned at 12.5% (plus a £10 fee for going over the limit).

While some might not be comfortable banking with an overtly evangelical organisation, the combination of good service and a serious ethical commitment make for an appealing option.

Islamic Bank of Britain

In a similar vein, the Islamic Bank of Britain runs an ethical investment policy in line with Sharia Law and will not invest in many speculative financial instruments. However, this also means they don’t offer any interest and no overdraft facility is available.

Metro Bank

Metro Bank, a relative newcomer to the market, has 26 branches in the Greater London and plans to have more than 200 across London by 2020. Accounts have to be opened in branch, but once it’s set up the bank offers a debit card, online banking and a mobile app – so if you really want an account and don’t live nearby, you could try and squeeze in some sightseeing and a West End show to make a holiday of it.

Although it’s free to open an account with Metro Bank, their current account doesn’t offer any interest on your deposit. Overdrafts, both planned and unplanned, are currently charged at an annual rate of 15% with a £10 charge for each transaction beyond your overdraft limit, up to a maximum of six transactions.

There’s little in the way of direct customer control that you might get with a mutual or building society, but they scored 92/100 for ethics were rated “highly for running an honest and tax-haven free operation that received few fines or complaints” according to Move Your Money. The Ethical Consumer group ranked their current account as the most ethical offered by a bank in the UK.

Nationwide

You might also consider a mutual, such as Nationwidewhose current account was ranked one place below Metro Bank by Ethical Consumer.

With the FlexDirect account guaranteeing 5% interest on deposits up to £2500 for the first year (dependent on depositing £1000 per month) they offer a considerably better deal than many others. The account also offers a 12 month interest free overdraft facility – but beware the 50p per day overdraft fees that follow after the first year. They also have branches across the country, making them more convenient than many other locally based building societies.

However Move Your Money deducts points from their score for fat-cat levels of executive pay and involvement in the PPI misselling scandal. That said, with the vast majority of their investment focused on loans to individuals and companies to buy property, they score a high 92/100 score for ethics.

And the rest…

There are many other smaller mutuals that are well worth looking into, such as the Cumberland Building Society and Coventry Building Society, but be aware that accounts with some are restricted to local residents and others don’t offer debit cards. It can also be difficult to deposit cash if you don’t live near a branch – if you’re paying cash in regularly, make sure to check where the nearest branch is.

It might also be worth bearing in mind that the much lauded Triodos Bankwhich actively seeks out ethical investments, rather than just avoiding shady ones – plans to launch a current account in early 2016. If you want to your bank to be proactive in its approach to ethics, and are in no rush to switch account, then it may well be worth the wait.

In the meantime, why not kick off Good Money Week by exploring some more ethical banking options and finding the one that suits you.

We’ll be hearing more about David and his personal take on money management in weeks to come…watch this space!

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Filed under Banking, Consumer Affairs, Ethical Finance, Personal Finance, Savings Accounts

Can we take care of the world while taking care of our finances?

IONA BAIN

You don’t need to go all hippie to care about ethical finance…

SCOTS are being asked to consider the moral implications of their financial decisions as part of a national drive to encourage ethical saving and investing.

Religious leaders, entrepreneurs and financial advisers are supporting Good Money Week, which kicks off tomorrow, in the hope it will bolster their efforts to create a more virtuous financial system in Scotland.

The Church of Scotland is galvanising its ministers to preach about the initiative, having held a high-powered conference in Glasgow earlier this month to raise awareness.

Scott Murray, director of Edinburgh-based Virtuo Wealth, said: “The public debate about ethical finance is finally filtering down towards the retail market. Consumers routinely ask whether they should buy fair trade chocolate, so why not do the same with their Isa?”

Julian Parrott, partner at advisory firm Ethical Futures in Edinburgh, said the campaign’s change of name from Ethical Investment Week heralds a greater awareness of banking, insurance and saving options for conscientious consumers.

He added: “There is also a nascent market in social impact investment as well as community and peer-to-peer investments, particularly with a focus on environmental projects.”

Indeed, investors can now support worthy businesses directly through Crowdcube, a crowd-funding site which has just set up its first office in Scotland.

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Dealing with social pressures to spend: a few suggestions

Iona Bain

Picture the scene: it’s Friday night and your friends want to go out to a bar or a fancy new restaurant.  But you’re not sure if you can afford it – perhaps you’ve been splashing out a bit too much lately, you’re saving up for a big purchase or you’re just feeling a bit skint. What do you do? More importantly, what do you say to your friends?

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Here’s another variation on the theme: your pals want to go and see a film, a new play or a big gig. You’re up for it in theory but you’re not sure that the cost is worth it. Do you find a way to pay for it? Where do you draw the line?

There are several reasons why we are compelled to say ‘yes’ to every exciting invitation when we’re young. Firstly, we work hard so we want to play hard. Many events genuinely appeal to us and we know that we’d have a great time. You love that band, you’ve dying to see that film, you need to let your hair down.

It can be tricky for us to budget well, save and generally track down the cash for all the things we genuinely want and need. So the situation gets more complicated – and critical – when some social invitations are more of an unknown quantity. Do we really want to go to that restaurant that our friend loves? Is that nightclub really all it’s cracked up to be?

Yet we feel compelled to say ‘yes’ even when the social event is being chosen for us. In an ideal world, we would be controlling where we go, what we do and how much money we spend. In the real world, many of our friends make up our minds for us – and we go along with the plan to avoid a boring night at home.

So how do we keep up with our friends without breaking the bank? Vivi Friedgut, founder of Blackbullion, suggests that we find ways to dip in and out of nights out and costly activities. She also says that we can propose cheaper alternatives on occasion to ease the pressure.

Here are Vivi’s three suggestions – how many can you come up with?

Take the reigns – Plan a low cost or free event e.g. go to the movies on a discount night or free gig or museum day

Work out what you can do – rather than ignoring an invitation to go out or do something, see if you can join a portion of the night. e.g. say you will only join for dessert

Share the cost – Invite everyone to come over and bring something e.g. for the footy instead of the pub or Sunday dinner instead of a takeaway

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Filed under Leisure, Moneysaving tips, Personal Finance, Shopping

The Credit Score of Fate

By Helen Lawless

The concept of a credit rating, some arbitrary number decided by some strange algorithm, having sway over your financial fate – it’s rather alarming, isn’t it?
Well, I’ve got news for you – young people need to be on the ball when it comes to their credit rating, especially in the post-crisis era when lenders are going to new lengths to appear responsible. Don’t worry though – armed, with a little information, it doesn’t have to be so ominous.

So what is a credit rating anyway? Why does it matter? At some point in your twenties, you’re going to need to borrow money, and your credit rating is a measure used by lenders to decide whether you’re a sound investment. In other words, they want to know how likely it is that you’ll repay your debts – and your credit rating helps them to weigh up the chances.

Credit ratings combine information about you, your employment or future prospects thereof, what you submit in your application and most pertinently your credit history (when you’ve taken out money before, and if/when you paid it back) to indicated your credit worthiness in a single figure. The higher, the better.

At one time, credit ratings were only relevant to large loans, like mortgages, but now they are taken into consideration when banks give out private student loans, by home and car insurance companies when they offer policies, by landlords when they decide how much rent to charge, and even by mobile phone networks when they decide whether to offer you a contract. That means a credit rating has the potential to significantly affect a young person’s financial – one might even say their personal – well-being. Here are a few ways to build up a sound credit rating:

1. Don’t apply for multiple loans simultaneously if you can help it. Space your applications out as much as possible – otherwise, this can raise a red flag. On a similar note, close any bank accounts you don’t use, as this can also trouble lenders.

2. You want to appear steady and reliable. For example, lenders like a long employment history so mention all your previous paid jobs. A stable locale is also beneficial, which is why lenders tend to prefer people who own rather than rent their homes. So put down a landline phone number if you have one (you can usually get a landline pretty cheaply in a bundle with your home internet). Having been with the same bank for a while will also make you seem like you’re likely to stick around. Remember to double check your loan applications for errors; re-read the thing until you’re sick of it!

3. Don’t just pay back your bills in full, but be as timely as possible. Find a way to remind yourself in advance when your payments are due.

DIY Credit Card Earrings by ReadyMade: Cut up your cards! #Earrings #DIY #Credit_Card _ReadyMade

Essentially credit can either be a virtuous or vicious cycle: if you pay back your bills in plenty of time and err on the side of caution, rather than extravagance, lenders will offer you a better deal next time. When you’re young, you haven’t had many opportunities to prove your reliability, but if you manage your credit prudently over time, you will seem less high-risk. Here are a few tips to keep your credit sheet looking clean:

1. Make sure there are no mistakes in your credit report. Make sure all your contact details, employment history and credit history are accurate. Similarly, make sure you also keep all your information with your bank, local council, national insurance and the electoral roll up to date.

2. Be careful about entering into loans with other people: if you’re seen to be “financially associated” with someone else, their credit score is your credit score, and they may not have been as thoughtful as you have.

3. If you need to build your score quickly for a larger loan, consider a pre-paid credit-builder card: after 12 months or so of successful repayments on a hiked interest rate, your credit score will have dramatically improved.

So control your credit score – don’t let it control you!

LOOK OUT FOR MORE FROM HELEN ON THE BLOG SOON…

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Filed under Consumer Affairs, Credit, Debt, Loans, Personal Finance

Help is at hand for students who are fudgeting their budgeting…

You may have seen my recent feature on FOMO-affected students who are overspending to keep up with the Joneses (or should that be  the Kardashians?!)…You may be a student who is struggling to keep that urge to splurge under the control, or you might know a fresher who could do with a reality check.
Help is at hand. Check out these stats from Jonathan Chesterman, advice manager at debt charity Stepchange – he also has some constructive advice on how to stay within a student budget…

JONATHAN CHESTERMAN

It’s easy to see why some students struggle financially, as they have less opportunity to generate income – 57 per cent of the students we advised last year stated reduced or irregular income or unemployment as the trigger for their debt problems.

For many, this will be the first time that they have been offered access to credit, and we do see problems with traditional forms of debt. 75 per cent of the students who called our Helpline in 2013 had overdraft debt, at an average of £1,509, and 54 per cent had credit card debt, averaging at £3,657.

Students should also be aware of the risks of high-cost forms of credit, such as payday loans and store cards, which can quickly spiral out of control due to the high levels of interest and charges. Of the students who contacted us with payday loan debt last year, the average amount owed was £1,069 – most students receive a maintenance loan of just £1,390 to cover living costs for their entire first term at university.

Starting university may be the first time that many young people have had to create and stick to a budget, and it can be made more difficult by the fact that maintenance loans, grants and bursaries tend to be paid in lump sums. We would advise students to work out their income as a monthly figure. Next, work out your monthly outgoing costs, remembering to include everything like accommodation, travel, food shopping and socialising. Be realistic about the amount you can afford to spend in each area.

If you find you have more money going out than coming in, try and cut down on the amount you spend where you can. Always pay priority bills like rent, TV licence and utility bills first – these are the things that have the biggest consequences if you don’t pay them. Last year, 29 per cent of the students we spoke to were in rent arrears.

If you feel like you have the time and it won’t negatively affect your studies, then you may wish to look for a part-time or holiday job to supplement your income. You can earn up to £9,440 before you start to pay tax.

If you’re still in a budget deficit and think you might have a debt problem, the most important thing is not to struggle alone. Seek free, confidential advice from an organisation like StepChange Debt Charity, who can help to work out the best way to deal with your debts (0800 138 1111, www.stepchange.org)

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Filed under Debt, Leisure, Loans, Payday loans, Personal Finance, Student Finance

Runaway debt: It’s the new norm for university students now

BY IONA BAIN

The Independent

Featured in The Independent

StepChange, the debt charity, has revealed that students who called its helpline in 2013 had racked up average debts of £7,818

Pic: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian

Peer pressure and the so-called “fomo” phenomenon is driving students into unnecessary debt as half of all undergraduates run out of money before the end of the month, research has shown.

Financial education firm Blackbullion said nearly a third of students blame “unexpected expenses” for the shortfall in their finances, while 38 per cent admit they splash out more often than expected.

The Money Charity has already warned that some students in England may need as much as £750 a month to pay for their accommodation, even after receiving the maximum funding available through maintenance loans. This could leave the average English student based in London with just £449 to live on each month, while that figure drops to £350 if they live outside the capital – the equivalent of an adult on a £21,000 salary paying more than £1,000 a month in rent and bills per month.

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20 Tips From 20 Pensions Experts – How To Retire With A Good Pension: In association with Dam Good Pensions

By dam good pensions with iona bain

We would all love to have a DAM good pension when we retire, but how do we go about getting that pension pot we can be happy with? Well, here at DAM we decided the best way to find out would be to ask the experts. And that we did…

We asked some of the leading pension journalists, bloggers and industry-insiders to give one tip each for how to retire with a good pension and here are their nuggets of wisdom below…

Feng Shui Money Tree 8x10 mixed media by StarkovaGallery on Etsy, $40.00

StarkovaGallery on Etsy.com

“Pay your national insurance contributions, work hard and save into a workplace pension as much as you can. The rest is up to your provider and the markets!”

Henry Tapper, The Pensions Plowman, @henryhtapper

“Contribute, contribute, contribute. Whatever you’re paying towards your pension, it’s probably not enough. As a rough guide; remember those generous, final-salary based pensions your parents had? They ended up costing about a third of their salaries – a lot more than the current 8% minimum.”

Mark Cobley, Pensions Editor at Financial News, @fanfaronade

“Spend less, save more. The wealthy pensioner is the average man who focused on saving 10% of what he earned every day for a long time.”

Robert Gardner, Co-CEO of Redington, @robertjgardner

“Start saving for your pension as early as possible. The extra years of contributing can make a huge difference to your final pension pot, even if your investing has a few hiccups along the way.”

John Fitzsimons, Editor of LoveMoney.com, @johnthejourno

“It’s a false economy not to pay for independent financial advice. Seek a trusted, reliable IFA with superior retirement planning knowledge to advise you on contributions, provider and, when the time comes, how to draw your retirement income.”

Gill Wadsworth, Freelance Financial Journalist, @gillwadsworth

“Start early and make sure that you increase your pension contribution with every pay rise that you get.”

The largest piggybank on the block

Kimberly Green on Pinterest

Helen Morrissey, Editor of Retirement Planner, @pensionshelen

“Find out the maximum matching contribution your employer will put in to your pension pot, and then save at that level. Investment returns are just the side show, what really makes the difference over the long term are the contributions.”

Sam Brodbeck, Assistant Editor at Engaged Investor & Pensions Insight, @pensionssam

“Get to grips with your company pension. Check how much you’re paying in – are you happy with where your money is being invested? Most people in a money purchase company scheme are in the ‘default’ fund, but this may be too cautious for some and many schemes offer a selection of funds.”

Rupert Jones, Deputy Editor of The Guardian’s Money pages, @rupert_jones

“Keep active, eat your greens and enjoy what you do. Working longer through your life will guarantee a better pension.”

Alistair McQueen, Pensions & Investments Policy Manager at Aviva, @pensionsmcqueen

“To retire with a good pension, one must be realistic above all else – How much will be needed in retirement and how much must be saved, and over what period of time, to achieve that? In short, what does ‘good’ look like for the individual and what steps are they taking to realise their goal?

Simon Kew, Director of Pensions at Jackal Advisory, @pensionsjackal

“To get a good pension, work for the Civil Service or local government! Otherwise get a good pensions adviser!”

David Trenner, Technical Director at Intelligent Pensions, @davidtrenner1

“Set financial goals for a range of time horizons. Saving for retirement doesn’t happen in isolation. One needs to balance short and medium term retirement objectives with the need to save for one’s retirement.”

Pretty Life Girls

Stephen Huppert, Partner at Deloitte Australia, @stephenhuppert 

“If what you are saving is not hurting it’s likely that you will be disappointed with the outcome.”

Robert Reid, Readers Editor at Money Marketing, @reidremoney

“Start a pension before you think you need to!”

Tim Boles, CEO of Equilibrium Pensions Limited, @timcboles

“Start early and take advantage of compounding. Also, make good use of higher rate tax relief if you’re able, as it’s looking like this benefit might be taken away soon.”

Matthew Bird, Investment Enthusiast and Blogger, @mattbird55

“My one tip would be that whilst it is understandable for all the media headlines about pensions to lead to confusion or scepticism about them, not to let that lead to apathy or inaction about your own retirement planning, as that can be the most costly mistake of all. As the saying goes, time is money!”

Phil Netherwood, Owner of Advice About Money, @adviceaddsvalue

“Don’t limit yourself to pensions. An Isa can be an equally effective – and arguably more flexible – way of building up a decent income to support you in retirement.”

Cherry Reynard, Freelance Financial Journalist, @creynard0654

“Be realistic, if you want to spend a third of your life at leisure, you’ll have to save like crazy whilst you’re working.”

Patrick Bloomfield, Partner and Actuary at Hymans Robertson, @patrickpensions

“Start making contributions as young as possible & contribute as much as you can, even if that means starting low & increasing over time.”

Fiona Cowie, Director of Essential HR, @hrandreward

“Start early, save more when you get a pay rise and cut out the daily cappuccinos – every little helps!”

Stephanie Hawthorne, Editor at Pensions World, @pensionsworld

And here are a couple of bonus tips (Because we love to overdeliver)!

“Don’t intend to save for your future, start doing it now. And remember, your house is your home, not an investment portfolio.”

Pádraig Floyd, Financial Journalist, @gogetemfloyd

“Don’t put it off till tomorrow. This means taking immediate control of your finances so you know exactly what money is coming in and what money is going out. Understand the fundamental importance of discipline in money management, and exercise it every week when your pay packet comes in. Being aware of your budget, sticking to it without fail and setting aside money for tomorrow will reap huge rewards.”

Iona Bain, Financial Journalist at Young Money Blog, @ionayoungmoney

- See more at: http://www.damgoodpensions.com/blog/20-tips-from-pension-experts-retire-with-good-pension/#sthash.uc2T34Ud.dpuf

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Playing family fortunes

In her latest column for fa, iona bain looks at why families are happy to let their wealth cascade down the generations

One of the most significant outcomes in the lottery of life has to be the family we are born into. A savvy and attentive parent – all the better if there are two – can give an instant, highly potent advantage in this world. Throw in a couple of wise, wealthy grandparents and you have well and truly lucked out.

Dream parents and grandparents do not just offer up role models for solid money management – they also support us until we can support ourselves. In other words, they make good with the dosh when we really need it, even as we progress into adulthood.

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I do not know how many of my 20-something friends could have stayed afloat, let alone started to fulfil their potential and lay the foundations for a bright future, if their families had not thrown them a financial lifeline or two. We are all aware of the conundrum facing first-time buyers, many of whom cannot save for a mighty deposit because they are tethered to grossly high rent. We know the job market has not been kind to graduates and school leavers since the recession took hold. It hardly needs stating that starter wages are not commensurate with the cost of living once taxes, bills and tuition fee debt is accounted for.

Little wonder that many members of the older generation do what they can to ensure these hurdles do not floor the talented young people that they know and love. An acquaintance of mine paid a modest amount of rent to stay at home for four years, only to be presented with all the cash she ever paid (plus a bit extra from her parents) on her 26th birthday. Imagine her surprise and delight when she was told she could get her first home deposit with all the money she had saved. Another young guy is pulling out all the stops to find a job that pays him more than the dole and is renting a grotty flat in my hometown of Edinburgh – he would be forced to live on £9 a week after bills and housing costs were it not for financial support from his grandparents.

We are not talking about mollycoddling or handouts for spoilt brats here; the majority of young consumers want to be self-sufficient more than anything else. We feel an uneasy combination of gratitude and guilt when family members promise to help us through university, give us their old car or loan money on terms and conditions that could fit onto a postage stamp.

But, to be fair, we did not choose to be born and certainly not into this economic era in which young people have really drawn the short straw. Is it too much to expect some financial assistance as we find our way through this mess? Besides, the former universities minister, David Willetts, is right to point out in his book, The Pinch, how a supportive approach is in the babyboomers’ own interests. He even mentions a popular US bumper sticker that says: “Be nice to your kids – they will choose your nursing home.”

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