Menopause and money: 4 practical steps to help protect your financial plan

With 1 in 10 women forced to give up their job due to debilitating menopause symptoms, find out four practical steps you could take to protect your financial plan.

Although the average age for a woman to have gone through the menopause is 51, symptoms can sometimes begin years or even decades before your 50s. This is known as the “perimenopause”, and potential symptoms are wide and varied.

 

Common menopause and perimenopause symptoms you might experience include:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Joint pain
  • Hot flushes
  • Fatigue.

 

It's easy to see how debilitating and disruptive menopause could be to many aspects of your life.

 

If you're very fortunate, you may only feel mild effects, but others may experience more extreme symptoms.

 

Should you be unfortunate enough to feel the full force of the hormonal change taking place, you could struggle to maintain your financial wellbeing – especially as you may also be approaching retirement.

 

Keep reading to learn how the menopause could affect your money, and four steps you could take to ready your finances for this stage in your life.

 

1 in 10 women have to stop work due to the severity of their menopause symptoms

 

Research from the Fawcett Society has shown that some women suffer with menopause symptoms to such an extent that they are forced to give up their jobs.

 

Their findings revealed that:

 

  • 1 in 10 women have had to stop work due to menopause symptoms – representing around 333,000 women in the UK
  • 44% have found that menopause affected their ability to work
  • 14% have had to reduce their hours to part-time.

 

Even when women are able to continue to work and maintain their usual hours, many report that their confidence has been affected, and that their performance has suffered as a direct consequence of the menopause.

 

With all this in mind, here are four practical steps you could take to help you financially prepare for the menopause – particularly when it comes to approaching retirement.

 

1. Build and maintain a healthy emergency fund

 

Life can lob you a curveball at any point. The reassuring knowledge that you have a healthy emergency fund could provide valuable peace of mind.

 

Typically, it’s wise to have enough cash in an easy access savings account to cover three- to six- months’ worth of essential household expenses.

 

If you don’t have this level of savings on hand, start to put aside any free cash and allow it to gradually build up over time.

 

Once you have enough funds to feel comfortable, keep the savings in place ready to dip into in the event that you need to take time off work due to health concerns.

 

2. Dig out old pensions and unearth any you may have lost

 

Seeing as the menopause often happens in the years leading up to your retirement, it could be wise to prepare for the possibility of needing to retire early due to its symptoms.

 

These days, it’s unusual to stay with the same employer for your entire career. As a result, you’ll likely have had several different employers. You may have moved home more than once too. In either case, you could easily have lost track of past pension schemes.

 

While it’s all too easy to lose track of old pensions, doing so could mean you risk missing out on significant funds that could go towards your retirement income.

 

So, check your paperwork and take the time to supply past pension providers with up-to-date details.

 

If you think you might have other pensions you no longer have paperwork for, the government’s pension tracing service is a good starting point.

 

This step could help you to place your retirement funds in a better position should you need to retire earlier than planned, or reduce your working hours and supplement your income with your pension, while going through menopause.

 

3. Consider combining your pensions into a single pot

 

Once you’re on top of all your pensions, you may find you’d prefer to consolidate all your savings into one pot.

 

One major benefit of this is that it can make managing your retirement savings a whole lot easier, and far less time-consuming – both now and when you’re ready to retire.

 

It will mean you have a one pension statement to review each year and a single set of investments to keep an eye on. You may even find that you’re able to reduce the charges you’re paying.

 

Before you leap into action, it’s vital to check that you won’t be caught out by unexpected exit fees or miss out on benefits that you may lose by transferring.

 

Consolidating your pensions isn’t the right solution for everyone and it’s wise to seek advice before you commit.

 

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss the potential implications of consolidating your pension savings into one pot. I will find out what you have and where the funds are invested, then help you understand all your options based on your investment time frame and appetite for risk.

 

In any case, working with a financial planner to optimise your pensions as early as possible may mean you feel less financial strain if you need to retire earlier than you thought.

 

4. Think about increasing your pension contributions

 

If you are in the lead up to the average age of menopause, which currently stands at 51, now could be the perfect time to put more away for the future.

 

Contributing an additional 1% into your pension could make a real difference over time. So, if you can afford to save more into your pension, you could do so and potentially boost your retirement income.

 

If you have a workplace pension, talk to your employer – they may be willing to match an increase in contributions, too.

 

Contributions to your pension also benefit from government tax relief.

 

If you’re a higher- or additional-rate taxpayer, be sure to claim the additional tax relief through self-assessment. This allows:

 

  • Higher-rate taxpayers to claim an additional 20% tax relief
  • Additional-rate tax payers to claim an extra 25% tax relief.

 

Alternatively, you can call or write to HMRC to claim the additional tax relief you’re entitled to.

 

Remember, you have an Annual Allowance. This is the amount that you can save into your pension each tax year, while still being able to benefit from relief. In 2024/25, most earners can contribute £60,000 or 100% of your annual earnings, whichever is lower.

 

While you can continue to pay into your pension once you hit this limit, you’ll no longer be able to do so in a tax-efficient way (unless you have any Annual Allowance available from three years prior to the current tax year).  Any contributions over your Annual Allowance may incur a charge.

 

Making tax-efficient pension contributions before you reach menopause means that, if you do become unwell during menopause, you may feel more confident about reducing or stopping work when you need to.

 

Get in touch

 

If you want to plan ahead and boost your finances to protect your financial future in case the menopause puts additional strain on your plans, please get in touch.

 

Email lottie@truefinancialdesign.co.uk or call 07824 554288. As a new mummy, I will be on maternity leave until July 2024, so I appreciate your patience until I am back at work full-time.

 

Please note

 

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

 

All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.

 

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

 

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates, and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts. 

 

Workplace pensions are regulated by The Pension Regulator.

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