Women: don’t wave goodbye to your financial security

Emma-Lou Montgomery
Emma-Lou Montgomery
Fidelity Personal Investing1 December 2017

There has been a lot of chitter chatter about what a ‘modern’ match Prince Harry’s bride-to-be is, with her being variously described in the media as non-British, mixed race, divorced, older than him, etc.

But I can’t help feeling that it’s more like the sort of comment that would have been made in a bygone era. Especially when they talk about her being an actress as well, as though that still implies some sort of ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ impropriety. This is 2017 not 1950 after all. Who cares about any of it?

The only part that should ring alarm bells amid all this ‘aren’t today’s royals so terribly modern’ commentary is the fact that - in true 1950s style - she is clearly expected to give up her career and even her charitable patronage in order to presumably do something more suitably ‘royal’.

While the soon-to-be Duchess of Sussex as Meghan Markle will be known, won’t have to worry about pay cheques or pensions when she’s a member of ‘The Firm’, get married, give up your career and all it entails, is an antiquated message to be sending out to young girls.

The monarchy has moved on in many ways but the worrying truth is that too many ‘regular’ women do still ‘give it all up’ when they get married. And back in the real world, rather than the land of fairy tale princes and happily ever after, they often come a cropper when they haven’t looked after their financial futures like they really should have done.

As we pointed out in 5 home truths every woman must face, from career breaks to divorce, there are many hazards along life’s path that can leave women, in particular, financially vulnerable.

Pensions are a key area. Too many women who take a career break to have a family or care for elderly relatives, end up losing out on valuable years of pension contributions. This means they fail to qualify for the state pension and tend not to have much else in the way of pension provision either.

However, everyone can pay into a pension and get the valuable boost from the government that makes pensions savings such a great tax perk. If you pay into a personal pension or a SIPP, HM Revenue & Customs will top-up your contributions at your basic rate of tax. This means you only have to make contributions of £2,880 a year to have a total of £3,600 added to your pension pot.

Then there’s often neglected Child Benefit that so many families have given up on now that the benefit is reduced gradually if at least one parent earns more than £50,000, and is removed completely if either earns above £60,000.

However, not only does claiming the benefit protect your state pension contributions as a woman, but there are other considerations too.

For more, take a look at an article by my colleague Ed Monk who looks at ways to boost your pension contributions so that you not only save tax-efficiently for your future, but you also do it in a way that means you might be able to claim and keep your Child Benefit payments. See if you could benefit from this in Pension saving to keep more Child Benefit.

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