Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online


Retirement Planning – Timelines


Age 40


Timeline Introduction
Age 20
Age 30
Age 40
Age 50
2-3 years before retirement
Back to timeline Introduction

Hispanic lady with hands to headBy the time we reach 40, many of us do start to think more often and a bit more seriously. We’ve probably been at work for about 20 years and the thought of a well-earned rest crops up in our thoughts more frequently. It is certainly the time when we should take stock and think about what we are going to do for the rest of our lives – including retirement.

We should take a serious look at what we want from the rest of our working life and from retirement. We will have our ongoing notes from ages 20 and 30, so we need to get them out, look at them, amend them and add to them. In addition, there are various other things that we should now start to consider – or perhaps they are the same things but from a slightly different angle.

As always, our retirement planning depends on what it is that we want from retirement, which, in turn, will rest on what we like to do and what we think we might like to do in the future. We should have a target, or a set of targets, in retirement and our task at this stage is to do what we can to ensure that we can hit those targets.

We thought about our hopes and concerns at age 30 and we should have our updated notes on these. They are important because they form the basis of our plan – what we hope to be able to do and removing any obstacles to our being able to do them. We also considered things such as hobbies and travel because these are things that we are likely to want to do in retirement. So consider and revise these if necessary.

By the age of 40 it may be that some events have occurred that will change your perception of retirement and lead you to think about it differently. These events are such things as:

  • Inheriting money
  • Winning money through, for example, the lottery or premium bonds
  • Losing a loved one: especially a partner
  • Having to care for elderly parents

There may be other things looming on the horizon. For example:

  • Having to help children financially, perhaps to enable them to buy their first house
  • Having to look after grandchildren in retirement
  • The prospect of coming into some money

It is, of course, important not to forget these things but to factor them into our plans when we are updating our notes.


In addition to hopes and concerns, hobbies and travel we should also now also start to consider what objectives we have for retirement. Our objectives should be different to our hopes in that they are things that we actually want to achieve and may involve how we want to conduct our retirement.

For example, we might feel that we want to do some good in retirement by doing some voluntary work. Or we might have the objective of visiting all of the cathedral cities in the UK or completing the Pembrokeshire Coast walk. They are things that we have decided that we really want to achieve once we have the time to do so.

Or our objective might be more general in that it tells us how we want to spend our time in retirement. For example, ‘I want to spend two days a week doing some part-time work, two days a week expanding my knowledge (of something that we are interested in) and three days a week just enjoying myself.’

Whatever our objective or objectives are, it will help our planning if we have articulated them and written them down. Make sure that you also have your hopes and concerns written down, too. By age 40 you may well have developed new ones or may wish to start new ones in the future.


At age 30, our plans included company pension (including AVCs), personal pension, mortgage, children’s education and financial advisors. There are one or two other aspects of these issues to look at now that we have reached 40.

If you are only just starting your retirement planning look back at our age 20 and 30 timelines and also look at our financial retirement planning section.

Auto-enrolment or other Company Pension

As at age 30, make sure that your company pension is still offering the same features and benefits as it was last time you checked. If you don’t get a pension forecast automatically, ask for one and make sure that it is still predicted to pay you what you believed it would.

You may well change jobs in your 40s and if you are contemplating doing so, make sure that you take the pension provision into account before you take the plunge. If your new company doesn’t offer the same pension benefits, you need to consider the implications of that very carefully.

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

If you don’t start paying AVCs (additional payments to your company pension) at this stage it will probably be too late to make much difference. So consider whether you want to start them or to increase payments you are already making. They are a tax-efficient way of saving and could prove valuable in years to come.

Personal Pension

Again, if you don’t start paying into a personal pension now, then it will almost certainly be too late. So consider whether you want to do this or maybe increase the one you have already. As we saw in the age 20 section, have a look at our Financial Retirement Planning section and also the Citizen's Advice Bureau website where you will find a clear explanation of how personal pensions work.


We have already seen that we may want to plan to pay off our mortgage before the age at which we want to retire. However, many people choose to move house in their forties or even buy a second property for investment or recreation purposes. Before you do so, think about the implications in terms of your mortgage(s) and retirement age.

Children’s Education

By the time we reach 40, we may well have made all the necessary decisions about the children’s schooling. It could well be now time to think about the cost of putting the children through university, if they seem destined to go there.

For most people their children have finished university before they retire, but there are a significant number for whom that is not the case. Indeed, whether they go to university or not, there may well be other avenues that your children wish to explore. If this is the case, it may well involve a financial contribution from you. So think about these issues in your financial planning.


If you have some money that you want to invest and don’t want to put it into AVCs, there are many other investments that you can make. These range from safe havens such as high interest accounts in banks or building societies, cash ISAs, National Savings, guaranteed bonds and so on through to more risky but potentially more rewarding investments such as share ISAs, unit trusts, bonds, property, collectibles and commodities.

Think about your short term, medium and long term financial needs, because looking at savings and investments in that way is a good approach throughout life.

Before making investments such as these, do consider seriously whether to take some professional advice. If you decide to do so, take a look at our section on obtaining financial advice.


If we are going to have a long retirement we do need to now start thinking seriously about health issues. Without good health, retirement will not give us what we hope for.

If we played football, squash or any other sport, we may well have already given it up or be about to do so. This is where many of us go wrong because we do nothing to replace that sport. If we have played sport, and even if we haven’t, we need to be taking some sort of exercise in order to keep fit. We may join the local leisure centre, join a bowls club, take up dancing or whatever. It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we keep reasonably active.

Similarly, we need to ensure that our diet is helping us to keep fit. We need a balanced diet; one that will provide us with the energy that we need without encouraging us to put on weight. There are many books on diet to help you should you need one. Search  and you will be spoiled for choice.


As at age 30, look at your lifestyle and see if you have it in balance. The balance that you need is one that allows you to cover all your current obligations and to enjoy yourself whilst, at the same time, helping you to prepare for the sort of retirement that you want.


As we go into our forties and progress through them retirement will begin to loom larger and larger. You will probably find yourself referring more and more frequently to the notes you are keeping, amending them and bringing them up-to-date.

This is an excellent thing to do because it will help us to keep a handle on where we are now and where we want to go in the future. Once we get into our 50s, many of us will retire, for one reason or another, so we need to be as prepared as possible.


However if you feel that you need some help from a financial advisor, then visit our section on obtaining financial advice, or our page on Laterlife selected services and associated advice.



Over 50s Travel Insurance
Obtain a quote online