Simon Read: Start saving for the longest longest holiday of your life

Another week, another pensions survey pointing out that we all need to save more. Last week HSBC suggested that there's an ostrich generation of folk failing to take responsibility for their retirement. This week it was Scottish Widows turn.

The Lloyds Banking Group-owned insurer published its seventh annual UK Pensions Report, launching it with a debate in Westminster on Tuesday. Frankly there wasn't much of a debate to be had. Instead there was consensus from alll the interested parties there – including the likes of charity AgeUK and the Personal Finance Education Group – that the coming pensions gap is a problem and something needs to be done about it.

Scottish Widows' pensions guru Ian Naysmith suggested that people need to be "frightened" into doing something about their pension planning. Shadow Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves said she wants to find ways to "encourage" people to save for their retirement.

The problem, as most attendees conceded, is that most ordinary folk have more pressing financial priorities that saving for retirement. For young adults that could be the worry of paying off student debts or building up savings in the possibly folorn hope of buying their first home.

For slightly older folk, raising children or the ongoing cost of maintaining a home can swallow all their spare cash leaving little or none for the future. Even those who have money to spend or save often choose to spend it now on holidays or a better car than lock it away. That's totally understandable. As Ian Naysmith pointed out: "There's no point in living in poverty now to have a decent time later."

Scottish Widows' figures show that only 51 per cent of people are making enough provision for their retirement. Last year the figure was 48 per cent, which sounds as if there's been an improvement until you look back and discover the figure was 54 per cent in 2009.

In other words, as many people as ever are failing to prepare for the financial implications of retirement. Personally, I'm not too fearful as I reckon in my profession I may be able to continue working into my seventies earning a crust and any money I have goes towards my children. But I've thought about the issue and made a decision accordingly.

The fact that half of us is not saving for our retirement may not be too big a problem if we've all done the same and are aware of the financial implications. But if we are really ostriches ignoring the future and simply living and spending for now, then that is a worry. Think about retirement as a long holiday – does that help you take it more seriously?

Buy-to-let mortgages are back with a bang with lenders lining up to tap into the market with juicy new deals. Shockingly, some seem to be exploiting potential landlords by charging among the highest mortgage fees I can ever recall seeing.

Two mainstream lenders this week trumpeted their buy-to-let deals. The Skipton has a two-year fixed rate at 3.99 per cent, while the Coventry has a five-year fix at 5.49 per cent. Both are reasonably competitive rates for their length until you look at the arrangement fees.

The Skipton is charging £2,495, while the Coventry tops that with an outrageous £2,999 fee. There may well be additional work in setting up a buy-to-let mortgage, but not to that extent. It's time to stop this practice and for all fees to be scrapped so borrowers can compare interest rates easily.

Advice: Online action plan may not be enough

the money Advice Service has launched an online money health check which aims to put people in charge of their money. In 10 minutes, the free health check (at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/healthcheck) promises to give a personal action plan.

This is to be welcomed, of course. Anything which helps people focus on their finances and think about ways to improve them is a good thing. And with questions about such subjects as emergency savings, or how you would cope with a change in your circumstances, many people could benefit from spending 10 minutes taking the health check.

I haven't taken the health check myself, but would be interested to hear from anyone who has and how useful it proved. But when it comes to money, experience has shown me that most people prefer to have a face-to-face chat rather than an online questionnaire. The reassurance that can come by talking to someone in person can offer much more than a faceless set of online tips or action plans.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?