How to plan for a retirement lasting 30 to 40 years

When you start planning your retirement, it’s understandable that it might not occur to you that it could last 30 to 40 years.

Yet, if you haven’t factored in your life expectancy when saving for your retirement, you could be at risk of running low on funds later in life.

By engaging with your finances early, you’re likely to have a better chance of saving enough money to give you a comfortable retirement even if it last for 30 or 40 years.

Read on for practical tips on how to plan for a long and happy retirement.

Understand your life expectancy

Factoring your life expectancy into your retirement planning is an important part of saving enough to give you the lifestyle you want when you stop working.

However, many people underestimate how long they’ll live. Research by Canada Life found that people aged 50 and over on average believe they’ll live until around age 80, when in fact, the Office for National Statistics’ life expectancy calculator suggests that a male aged 50 will live on average to age 84 and a woman aged 50 will live on average to 87.

You might like to use this calculator to help you estimate how long your retirement might be based on your current age.

But of course, these calculations are just a guide. You may also need to consider personal lifestyle and health factors. Overall, it’s probably wise to plan for a longer retirement than you expect to have, than to underestimate your longevity and be left short financially.

Prepare emotionally for a lengthy retirement

If you’ve worked for many years, retiring can be a big change, even if it’s one you’re eagerly anticipating. And 30 to 40 years could potentially feel like a long time if you lack purpose.

It might be a good idea to take some time to prepare emotionally for this lifestyle change. For example, you might like to think about:

  • What you’d like to do during your retirement
  • Whether you plan to continue working in some capacity
  • What personal goals you hope to achieve
  • How you might structure your days without work
  • The positives of retirement
  • Ways to keep in touch with colleagues and how to build new social circles.

Preparing yourself in this way and putting a financial plan in place could reduce the risk of a gap between your expectations and reality.

Calculate whether your pension could last 30 to 40 years

You might have accumulated multiple pensions throughout your working life, and it can be difficult keeping track of all these different funds.

According to research by Standard Life, 75% of UK adults don’t know how much is in their pension pot.

And yet, without an understanding of what pensions you have, where they are, and how much you’re likely to have built up by the time you retire, it might be hard to gauge whether your pension aligns with your retirement goals.

So, if you haven’t checked your pensions recently, it may be worth digging out any annual statements you’ve received from your pension provider and using the government website to check your State Pension forecast online.

A financial planner can then use advanced cashflow modelling strategies to help you visualise your future expenses, identify your retirement goals and align these with your current financial plan. This can help to ensure that you have enough to last for 30 to 40 years of retirement.

You might also want to discuss options for making your pension stretch further, such as increasing your pension contributions to benefit from higher levels of tax relief.

Consider how your spending might change in retirement

Understanding your pension provision may be a helpful start towards planning for a lengthy retirement, but there are other factors you might want to consider. For example, you may want to think about what you’d like to do during your retirement and what your expenses might be.

You may expect your spending to continue in a similar way throughout your retirement. However, many people spend more in their early retirement years as they enthusiastically take advantage of extra free time, good health, and relative youth to travel and indulge in hobbies.

Your spending may then reduce as you age and your priorities change, before potentially increasing again in later life when care costs may increase.

This “retirement smile” might affect your pension income needs and how you structure your income in retirement – so it may be worth bearing this in mind when planning for the future.

Seek advice from a financial planner

Forecasting your income and expenditure for a lengthy retirement might feel overwhelming.

A financial planner has the experience and expertise to guide you towards a retirement plan that meets your individual needs and goals. We can help you to ensure that you have “enough” for the retirement you desire, however long you live.

If you’d like help planning for your retirement, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at or call 0345 505 3500.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.