Aged 40? This is how you might afford the 100-year life

It is not uncommon to turn 40 and have no pension savings. We show what you need to do to start saving to be able retire in your 60s and live the 100-year life.



David Brett
Multi-media Editor

Turning 40 without any pension savings can be daunting. But by investing 17% of your gross annual salary you could still afford to retire in your 60s and have enough money to live to 100.

That is the conclusion of calculations undertaken by Cazenove Capital and Schroders, based on a range of assumptions for someone aged 40 earning £45,000 a year today.

Being able to fund a retirement to the age of 100 is becoming increasingly important.

Healthcare improvements and lifestyle changes mean there is a 13.6% chance of a man and 19.1% chance of a woman born in 1978 living to 100, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Even if the chance of reaching 100 might be relatively low, you can still anticipate living a long life. The average life expectancy for men and women born in the late 70s and alive today is 87 and 89 years of age respectively.

Of course, it really helps if you start saving early. The extreme effects of compounding, where you earn returns on returns, can help an investment grow at a faster rate.

However, you may be among the many who have not saved anything for their pension. You are not alone.

Around three in ten (28%) 35-44 year olds have no private pension in place and 15 million workers in the UK are not putting away anything for retirement, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Although it may not seem like it, you still have time on your side. At 40, you are closer to your student years than you are to the state retirement age of 68. In fact, you are not even halfway through your life, according to the ONS longevity figures.

What's needed at age 40 if I want to start saving for retirement?

Discipline is needed, because saving is hard. In practical terms, if you are on a salary of £45,000 a year you’ll need to start saving around £7,500 a year, or £625 a month, according to our calculations.

These are not firm projections but meant to give an idea of different scenarios.

That could afford you the equivalent of £27,500 net per year in retirement, providing you also receive a full state pension and based on a range of assumptions. That should be enough to pay your household bills and extras such as leisure activities and holidays until your 100th birthday, even retiring at what will by then, based on current legislation, be the state pension age of 68.

The assumptions

Due to the complexities and uncertainties of saving for retirement we have based our calculations on current UK legislation. Each person will have different needs and requirements, so we have also made the following assumptions to keep the calculations simple:

  • Your salary starts at £45,000 and rises in line with inflation (2.5% per year)
  • There are no bonuses or big pay rises
  • You have no dependants
  • 5% of your salary is paid into a company pension, and your company puts in 7%
  • 12% of your gross salary is paid into a tax-efficient investment Isa
  • The Isa annual allowance, currently £20,000, increases by the rate of inflation
  • Pensions and Isa investments return 5% a year after fees (remember that past performance offers no guide to future returns and your capital is at risk when investing)
  • The state pension is still available and rises based on current legislation of a minimum of 2.5% a year.
  • You will retire at 68 and live until 100

We have based all the saving and withdrawing calculations below on current legislation and the assumptions above.

Please remember these calculations are for illustrative purposes only. There might be more tax efficient ways to save and spend your money. You should consult an independent financial adviser. Investments can go down as well as up and future returns are not guaranteed. Your capital is always at risk.

James Gladstone, Head of Wealth Planning at Cazenove Capital, said: “The example we’ve given here is only theoretical – it’s just one way of doing it and nothing is guaranteed given that reaching the targets depends on future investment returns which are unknown.

“We wanted to show that in theory, you can still afford the 100-year life, even if you start saving later in your career. The best route is to seek professional help from a financial adviser or wealth planner who can offer advice based on your specific circumstances.

“There are a few basic considerations we’ve outlined. A primary one is not putting all your eggs in one basket. To that vein, we have made use of pensions and Isas. Pensions offer greater tax advantages upfront, but you can’t touch your savings until the age of 55 under current rules.

“Isas have less tax advantages upfront but provide the flexibility to be able to withdraw money at any time, tax free. Life doesn’t always go to plan and sometimes you need that flexibility.

“There are a number of different ways of approaching saving for retirement. There is no one size fits all solution. Hopefully we have provided some food for thought if you haven’t already started saving.”

Lesley-Ann Morgan, Head of Retirement at Schroders, said: “When pensions were introduced in the early 20th century, a 40-year old could expect to live past retirement age, but only just. A century of improving healthcare and working conditions mean the equivalent group today can expect to live well into their 80s or 90s. Government research also expects this trend to continue, with new figures suggesting ten million Britons alive today can expect to reach 100.

“The good news is that it means most people can expect many years of retirement. The question is – how do you build up enough savings to last such a long time?

“The answer is to start as early as you can. But if pension saving wasn’t a priority in your 20s and 30s, it’s certainly not too late. This research shows that even at 40 you should still have time to accumulate enough money. By saving regularly, the dramatic effects of compounding, where you earn returns on returns, can help do the heavy-lifting."

How your savings add up

Now you know the assumptions, here is how it works.

Example: Isa savings

Your Isa savings will be the equivalent 12% of your gross income per year, the value of which is assumed to grow at 5%, compounded year-on-year after fees.

12% is just what is left over that isn’t spent on tax, day-to-day living and pension contributions.

At age 40 you should be saving £5,246 of your salary into your Isa, or the equivalent of £437 per month.

At age 41, as your wage increases inline with inflation, you invest a further £5,377, or £459 per month.

By the end of your 41st year your investment could be worth £10,885, providing your investment grows at 5%, compounded year-on-year.

Initially, your savings growth will seem slow. However, the miracle of compounding benefits long-term savers and shows your investments accelerating over time, providing all goes to plan.

By the time you are ready to retire at 68 you could have amassed savings worth £403, 624, as illustrated by clicking on the + sign  in the section below.

Example: Pension savings

Your pension savings will be the equivalent of 5% of your gross annual income with your company adding a further 7%, the value of which is assumed to grow at 5% per year after fees.

We have used the 5%/7% split because this is the standard contributions to pensions for an employer/employee. More could be contributed to the pension rather than the Isas but having the Isa allows the person the flexibility to be able to withdraw money from the Isa before the age 55.

At age 40 you will be putting £2,250 of your salary into your company pension, while your company contributes an additional £3,150. It is worth knowing that there are additional tax benefits for paying into a pension.

At age 41 your personal pension contribution will rise to £2,306, while the company’s contribution will be £3,229. By the end of that year your pension could have grown to £11,205, based on the assumptions we described previously.

To see the full calculations click on the + sign below.

Again, you can really see the benefit of saving over a long period as the value of your investment starts to accelerate in the later years of your working life. By the time you are ready to retire at age 68 the value of your pension has grown to £415, 505.

Aged 40: how to afford to live to 100

The chart below illustrates how your pension and Isa savings start to accelerate after 15 years. The blue bars illustrate the end of year balance for the Isa and the orange bars illustrate the end of year balance for your pension, between the ages of 40 and 100. The fall in value of the pension after age 67 and Isa savings after age 76 is due to withdrawals in retirement, more of which is explained below.

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How your Isa and pension savings grow

End of year balance (£)


Source: Cazenove Capital. For information purposes only. The material is not intended to provide advice of any kind. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated.

Don't forget your taxes

Nothing is certain in life except, death and taxes. They certainly haven’t been forgotten in our scenarios. For example, in your first year, you will pay tax of £10,400. After tax and all your savings you should have £27,104 left to spend on essentials, which includes rent or mortgage, and leisure in the first year.

Click on the + sign below to reveal how your yearly expenditure might work. The company contribution to your pension is not included in the table because it has no impact on your monthly budget.

Aged 40: how to afford 100 year life - employ cash flow

What saving for retirement means for your monthly budget

The table below illustrates how your income is divided between savings, spending and taxes on a monthly basis in the first three years. The contribution from the company into your pension isn’t included as it doesn’t affect your monthly outgoings after tax.

Your monthly budget

 Age 40 monthly expenditureAge 41 monthly expenditureAge 42 monthly expenditure
Yearly salary £45,000 £46,125 £47,278
Gross monthly income £3,750 £3,844 £3,940
Tax £867 £888 £911
Isa savings £437 £449 £459
Pension contribution £188 £192 £197
Spending (Essentials and leisure) £2,259 £2,315 £2,373

Source: Cazenove Capital. For information purposes only. The material is not intended to provide advice of any kind. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated.

How can I spend the money in retirement?

After nearly three decades of saving you should have accrued a healthy retirement pot, providing everything has gone to plan.

It is now time to retire, start withdrawing your money and hopefully make sure your savings last until you are 100. Accessing your Isa is straightforward. However, there are various ways of accessing your pension fund in order to meet your retirement expenditure.

Before we start, it is worth noting that there will be alternative routes to drawing your money. We have suggested only one route, for simplicity.

For example, you might take money from your Isas exclusively and then, when these are exhausted, draw on your pension. The advantage is inheritance tax protection: the pension remains outside of your estate.

Another route could be to use “phased drawdown” where you take series of tax-free lump sums from your pension (i.e. not using your 25% lump sum in one go) and drawing on the Isas and then drawing on the pension.

A third way could be using Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sums (UFPLS) each year which is where you take a lump sum from your pension of, say, £10,000 which is comprised of £2,500 tax free cash and £7,500 of income, any shortfall is then topped up by drawing on the Isas.

However, we have tried to keep things as basic as possible and used a relatively simple retirement approach for the first three years as an example of what to expect. There is a full breakdown further down the page.

Retirement: Year one

You should receive a state pension of £18,981, providing it has risen by 2.5% per year.

You could withdraw the full tax free cash allowance from your company pension of £103,876. This would allow you to begin drawing an income from the residual pension fund and also fund expenditure and Isa contributions in the early years of retirement.

The tax free lump-sum could be split three-ways: £19,327 is used to help fund expenditure in your first year of retirement; £39,930 is saved into your Isa (which is how far the allowance may have grown to). The remaining £44,619 is saved in a bank account.

You could then withdraw £19,750 from your company pension as ‘drawdown’ income.

There are still taxes to be paid even in retirement. It is low in the first year because of your tax-free pension withdrawal. Tax of £3,154, is due in year one, which will leave you with £54,904 to spend on essentials and leisure.

Remember £54,904 is the inflated equivalent of £27,500 in 28 years’ time, which seems a lot until you consider that the cost of living has risen by the same amount.

Year two

The state should pay you a pension of £19,550.

You could withdraw £19,750 from your company pension.

Remember the £44,619 – the remainder of the tax-free lump-sum you took from your company pension in the first year? That is still sitting in your bank account. You take £20,129 of that to fund your retirement expenditure in year two. The remainder of £24,936, which includes £446 gained in interest in the bank account over the previous year, is transferred into your Isa.

Tax is £3,153, leaving you £56,726 to spend on essentials and leisure.

Year three

Withdrawals become much simpler. From now on your three sources of income in retirement will be the state, your company pension and your Isa.

  • The state should pay you a pension of £20,137
  • You could withdraw £19,750 from your company pension.
  • You could withdraw £20,950 from your Isa.
  • Tax is £3,153
  • It leaves you £57,683 to spend on essentials and leisure.

A complete breakdown can be found by clicking on the + sign below.

Aged 40: how to afford the 100 year life - retirement cash flow

The table below illustrates how the first three years of your income and spending in retirement breaks down.

 Age 68Age 69Age 70
State pension £18,981 £19,550 £20,137
Company pension £19,750 £19,750 £19,750
Cash used from tax-free amount taken from company pension £19,327 £20,129 £0
Isa £0 £0 £20,950
Tax £3,154 £3,153 £3,153
Spending (Essentials and leisure) £54,904 £56,276 £57,683

Source: Cazenove Capital. For information purposes only. The material is not intended to provide advice of any kind. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated.

This content is provided for information and discussion purposes only. It is not intended to be professional financial advice and should not be the sole basis for your investment or tax planning decisions. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

Statements concerning taxation are based on our understanding of the taxation law in force at the time of publication. The levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation may change. You should obtain professional advice on taxation where appropriate before proceeding with any investment.

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This article is issued by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroders Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.

All data contained within this document is sourced from Cazenove Capital unless otherwise stated.


David Brett
Multi-media Editor


David Brett
How to

The value of your investments and the income received from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back the amount you invested.