0 Can You Afford a Comfortable Retirement? By The Bower Team / In Retirement Planning Perceptions about retirement are changing with many people expecting to continue in work beyond their normal retirement dates. Often they will be disappointed because employment can end sooner than anticipated due to unforeseen events. The financial implications will be severe for those with inadequate pension incomes and savings. Retirement should be a stage in our lives which is contemplated with joy and excitement. Indeed, apparently 48% of prospective retirees associate retirement with leisure and 47% with freedom. With ever increasing life expectancy, we can now look forward to living for over 20 years in retirement with most people aspiring to spend much of their time in travelling, with friends and family members, and in participating in new hobbies which have long been dreamed about. The perception of retirement is however changing. Whereas in the past it was normal to stop working completely at normal retirement date, it is now commonplace for potential retirees to seek a more flexible arrangement so that cash can be generated to supplement pension income which is often so much less than envisaged. It has been estimated that over 50% of people now anticipate that they will have to continue working beyond their normal retirement date, both for financial reasons and/or to keep their brain cells active. Sadly, if past experience is anything to go by, many of those hoping to reduce their working hours gradually during the early years of retirement will be very disappointed. They should be worried that 58% of current retirees ceased working sooner than expected due in most cases to ill health and redundancy. Only 9% of these retirees achieved their objective of continuing to work after their normal retirement date. For the above reason, and also due to the well- publicised shortfall in pension savings, financial worries are likely to accompany the early retirement years. It has been estimated that as many as 41% of those at the end of their working lives are concerned about being able to afford a secure and comfortable lifestyle in retirement. The source of the various statistics in this article is a report by Aegon Scottish Equitable called “The Retirement Readiness Survey.” The publication illustrates the importance for those still working to have a financial plan in writing, and for them to start making provision for retirement from an early age. Regrettably for those at or in retirement, it is normally too late to boost pension contributions and savings sufficiently to assure a satisfactory retirement income. However as a more positive note, many of these people will have substantial equity tied up in their homes from which money could be drawn to supplement savings and income. By contacting an independent financial adviser firm like Bower, homeowners aged 55 and over can learn about the many equity release plans which have been designed to make a comfortable retirement more affordable.