Sponsored Video: Pension Confusion

by Adam on March 14, 2012

This post is sponsored but the views expressed are those of Magical Penny

When you hear the word ‘pension’ what do you think?

For most people it’s a pretty confusing concept. One of the biggest confusions about pensions is what investments actually go into a pension, and how much does one need to have a retirement that does not mean being being cold and hungry.

Understandably with low understanding comes low levels of trust. I’ve heard countless friends and collegues tell me variations of:

“I don’t trust pensions”


“I haven’t got a clue about my pension

It’s a sad state of affairs because a pension can be a great way to save for retirement – mostly because it allows you to invest money you haven’t paid taxes on and the pension pot grows tax-free year after year. You only pay tax when you start taking out an income (generated by the pension pot when you buy what’s called an annuity).

The confusion and mistrust around pensions have not gone unnoticed:

As the video shows, there’s lots a ‘buzz words’ around pensions.

Ultimately though, there are really two types of pension – defined benefit and defined contributions.  The difference is a defined benefit pension promises you a certain amount of money when you retire, whereas a defined contribution pension gives you you a certain amount of money today to use when you retire.

Defined benefit pensions are also known as final salary pensions and have become increasingly less popular as the risk to deliver an income is placed on the employer rather than the employee. This ‘risk’ has been problamatic for companies in recent years as the economic uncertainty have led some schemes into trouble  running out of money in the fund to pay existing pensions.

A more empowered way to save in a pension is through a defined contribution pension:

How a defined contribution pension works

Most private companies these days offer a defined contribution pension and it’s something you should be doing, especially if they offer what’s called a ‘match’ –where the company ‘matches’ what you put into the scheme up to a certain percentage of 3%.

Let’s give an example:

Say that you earn £20,000 a year and your company offers a 3% ‘match’.

This means that whatever you put into the pension account, the company will put in the same up to 3% of your salary. Therefore to get the most money from your company you need to put in at least what the maximum match is. In this example its 3% of £20,000  = 20k*0.03 = £600.

Put £600 of your own money into the scheme and you’ve just given yourself a £600 raise and you now have £1200 in the scheme! Result! You can actually put in as much as you want, up to 100% of your salary but your company won’t put in any more money into your account than the ‘match’ amount.

As you can see it’s worthwhile but its not the whole story –you need to consider how this money is going to grow and keep up with inflation. You do this by having your pension contributions invested automatically in various investment funds.

Even if you don’t have an employer match it’s worth looking into if a personal pension of your own is good for you.


Ultimately, pensions have a bit of a bad reputation given the ever changing rules about them and the failure of some pension schemes to be transparent in what you can expect to receive when it comes to retire. However, with a defined contribution pension you can receive free money today to help fund your future and be in more control than ever.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Your Position

I have a pension and i barely get to grips with the fine detail of it.


maybe a bit personal, but now that you’re giving 100% to magical penny, are you still contributing to the same pension you did when you were employed? and if you have maintained the same pension, have you had to up your personal contribution in light of not getting a company contribution?

I don’t even know if your old company matched your contribution like your original employer but it seems to me that companies now a-days are trying to stop giving a contribution so it might be better to do it alone. People at my work wonder why i bother paying into mine with only a 1% match and they just say buy property. But as you know, I’m trying to do both!


This is a great comment, so thanks Sam.

I’ll address this in a post shortly. In short, I’ve stopped temporarily but will be starting soon and making up for lost time.

It’s still totally worth getting the match, even if it’s low…if nothing else it spreads your risk.

Great comment.

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