Life | Steps for Planning Your Retirement
It’s essential to plan for retirement and consider how you’ll replace your earnings once you leave work. The best way to ensure a comfortable standard of living during retirement is to start paying into a pension early—ideally when you get your first job. Additionally, as you get closer to retirement, you’ll need to consider further steps to prepare:
- Determine how much you need. Calculate your retirement spending needs so you know how much to save. Include essential expenditures like housing and utilities and non-essential spending for leisure activities and holidays. Utilise a budget planner to help.
- Get a State Pension statement. The State Pension can provide a major boost to your finances, but the amount you’ll get depends on your National Insurance contributions. Check your forecast on the GOV.UK website.
- Assess your options. Contact your pension company, or use a pension calculator to work out how much your pension pot is worth. Next, examine how you’d like to take the money. You may be able to take some as a lump sum or use it to buy an annuity.
- Trace any lost pensions. If you’ve lost track of any old pensions, you can trace them for free on the GOV.UK website.
- Examine other income sources. Look for additional ways to raise funds, such as part-time work, downsizing your home or selling some of its equity in return for a lump sum.
- Consider a money move. As pension schemes work by investing the money you contribute, it might be worth moving your money to a lower risk investment as you approach retirement. This will help protect you from losing money you won’t have time to make back.
- Get financial advice. With so much to think about, you may benefit from professional help. Speak to a financial advisor for assistance.
Home | Using Portable Heaters Safely
With energy prices at an all-time high, you may find a portable heater is a more efficient and cost-effective way to keep you warm. But portable heaters can be a serious fire risk, so consider these tips to make sure you are both safe and warm this winter:
- Inspect heaters regularly. Regularly inspect heaters for deterioration and keep them clean and well maintained. Ideally, register all heaters with the manufacturer so you’ll be kept aware of any safety notices or product recalls.
- Check safety instructions. Different heaters carry different risks. For example, portable gas heaters require gas cylinders to be changed, which is an additional fire risk. Always check a heater’s bespoke instructions.
- Position heaters correctly. Keep your heater on a flat surface and at least 1 metre away from combustible materials such as paper, furniture and curtains.
- Pay attention. Never leave a portable heater unattended. When animals or children are nearby, pay particular attention to make sure the heater isn’t knocked over. Turn off heaters before bed.
Motor | Tyre Maintenance Tips
Tyres are among the most important components of your vehicle but are often neglected. Poor tyre maintenance can lead to poor vehicle performance and costly repairs. Moreover, it could put you and others in danger on the roads. Consider these tips to look after your tyres:
- Check tyre pressure. Incorrect tyre pressure can affect a vehicle’s handling and braking and increase the chance of a tyre blowout. Check your tyre pressure, including the spare, once a month. For the most accurate results, check tyres when they’re cold.
- Check for damage. Tyres are exposed to variable conditions, including inclement weather and debris on the road. Check regularly for any cuts, puncture marks or bulges, and repair or replace tyres immediately on signs of damage.
- Monitor tread depth. Proper tread depth ensures greater performance in poor weather conditions. As well as losing grip on the road, a low tread depth of fewer than 1.6 millimetres means you’re breaking the law and could face a fine of up to £10,000. To check your depth, place a 20p coin into the tread grooves; if the outer rim is obscured, then your tread depth is at a safe level.
- Check wheel alignment. Balancing your wheels ensures they make contact evenly on the road’s surface and your tyres don’t wear at a different rate. Visit a garage immediately if you feel a pulling sensation to the left or right when driving. Otherwise, get a wheel alignment check every two years.
- Don’t overload. Vehicles regularly crammed with excess baggage could compromise or excessively wear the tyres. Check the tyres or inside the vehicle’s door frame for its recommended capacity.
- Drive carefully. In addition to proper maintenance, treat tyres well by driving carefully. Avoid excessive braking or acceleration, drive smoothly and avoid hazards such as potholes to help keep tyres in tip-top condition.
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