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How much does a married couple need to retire in the UK?

The Retirement Living Standards advise that the couple’s retirement income to cover a minimum type of lifestyle should be £16,700 per annum. The data also states that the average retirement income for married couples to achieve a moderate lifestyle retirement is £30,600, and £49,700 for a more comfortable retirement.

Is there a special pension for couples?No
Do married couples get separate pensions in the UK?Yes, but a spouse can inherit their partner’s pension when they die
Does everyone get the same State Pension?No, your state pension is dependent on your National Insurance record
What tax benefits can married couples get?Marriage tax allowance

In this Moneyfarm blog, we look into what would be considered a good retirement income for a couple and how to achieve it.

How much money does a retired couple need to live comfortably in the UK?

A comfortable retirement income for a couple in 2020, according to Which magazine, was £25,000 per annum. They updated it in November 2022 to £28,000, but the RLS figure mentioned above is even higher at £31,000. All of these figures are quoted net, after tax.

Working towards a comfortable retirement income for a couple can be difficult, and having a child makes it even more challenging. According to the ONS, in 2021, there were 19.3 million families with children – 6.5% more than the average across the previous decade.

The average cost of raising a child in the UK is between £150,000 and £180,000. It’s an enormous amount of money which increases proportionately if you have more than one child.

The figure for enjoying a comfortable retirement is a constantly moving target. Some say 26,000 a year for a comfortable lifestyle. But given what’s happening with inflation, let’s say for the moment that the retirement income needed for a couple is £30,000 per annum. It means you need to amass a pension pot of £425,000 and allow for an increase in growth of 4%.

Setting your financial goals as early as possible is essential, especially if you intend to have children and enjoy a comfortable retirement.

How much do married couples need to retire after tax in the UK?

To make the after-tax figures more meaningful when determining “how much does a married couple need to retire in the UK”, you need to consider the marriage tax allowance, which applies if you are married or in a civil partnership.

To be eligible for marriage tax allowance, the following conditions must apply.

  • The gross income of the lowest earner must be below the income tax threshold, which is currently set at £12,750.
  • The gross income of the highest earner must be between the basic taxpayer allowance and the higher taxpayer allowance, i.e., between £12,751 and £50,270.

The low earner can transfer £1,260 of their marriage allowance (a little over 10% of their personal tax allowance) to the higher-earning partner.

What is considered a good pension for a married couple in the UK?

A good pension for a married couple here in the UK gives access to more of a luxury lifestyle. A luxury lifestyle includes the things you need to enjoy a comfortable or moderate lifestyle, plus being able to fine dine when you eat out, take extended long-haul holidays, and upgrade your car every five years. This standard of living will likely cost you at least £41,000 per annum after tax, which means growing a pension pot of more than £730,000. To achieve that, you’ll have to do some serious retirement planning.

The best place to start is by finding out what your workplace pension (if you have one – most people do) will be worth when you retire. You’ll find a practical, user-friendly calculator on the Moneyfarm website.

It may be challenging to track down a retirement calculator for couples. This is because people are pensioned as individuals and not as couples. However, using the pension calculator mentioned above will give you an answer to the “how much do I need for retirement” question as a single person. Running the pension calculator twice – once for you and once for your partner, will give you a reasonable pension estimate as a couple.

The need for an additional private pension

In all likelihood, even if you’re asking yourself how much a married couple needs to retire in the UK and enjoy a comfortable retirement, you’ll probably find that your combined state and workplace pension income total will leave you with a shortfall. You’ll likely need an additional pension, which can be a private pension or investment account.

The two most common pension schemes open to you are personal or private pensions and SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions).

If you are not eligible for a workplace pension because you’re self-employed, you will need a self-employed pension.

Do you need to set up a pension-sharing order?

If you are in the process of dissolving a civil partnership, setting up a pension-sharing order to establish a fair division of the assets is a good idea. The solicitors handling the divorce or dissolution will determine the financial split, and the court overseeing the proceedings will issue the necessary paperwork to the pension fund providers.

Setting a retirement age

Picking a retirement age other than the state pension age is your prerogative if your financial circumstances will allow it. For example, suppose you didn’t initially set up your investment strategy with the aim of how to retire at 55 or some other specific age in mind. In that case, you will need to check the progress of your pension and lifetime savings situation.

As you are probably aware, the current New State Pension is £185.15 per week. As for your workplace and private pensions, talk to your employer or pension provider and ask them for an updated statement. You may decide to increase your pension contributions to achieve your financial goals.

Periodically checking the performance of your pensions and investments

“How much does a married couple need to retire in the UK” is a question you need to ask from time to time. Interest rates vary, so does inflation, and the world economy has its ups and downs, all of which can affect the performance of your pensions and investments. It’s a good idea to check your investments now and again to allow yourself the opportunity to change things around.

If you have several workplace pensions and they are performing differently than you would have hoped, it might be worthwhile to carry out a pension transfer review.

The other thing is that a couple’s financial goals often change as they journey through life together. Helping your children with university fees, recalculating your outgoings once your kids leave home for good, and other things will impact your financial situation. This situation could give you a good opportunity to review your 50s retirement savings status.

Suppose you worry about how much a married couple needs to retire in the UK and, equally importantly, what you need to do about it. In that case, consider seeking the help of a professional, independent financial adviser.

Inaction can cost you dearly 20 years down the line in terms of couple retirement, so it’s vital that you start saving as soon as possible. And don’t forget that even the average retirement income for a couple is likely to be liable for income tax, so look at some tax-free investment options too – tax wrappers like stocks and shares ISAs might be suitable.

FAQ

What are some pension tips for couples?

Some retirement tips that can benefit married couples include contributing towards a partner’s pension (especially if one is approaching their lifetime allowance) and limiting large lump sum withdrawals from their pension funds. Other tips include taking advantage of inheritance tax benefits on pensions and making sure each spouse has all the information regarding their pensions.

How much does a married couple need to retire in the UK?

It depends on the lifestyle a married couple desires in retirement. Research shows that couples need at least £16,700 per year to have a minimum standard of living that covers all their needs, with some leftover for fun. For a moderate lifestyle with more financial security and flexibility, married couples will need £30,600 per year. In contrast, a comfortable retirement with more financial freedom and some luxuries will require £49,700 a year.

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*Capital at risk. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.