Enjoy taking control of your cash

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    What makes you feel secure and comfortable financially? For most of us it is being in control – rather than that insecure sensation we feel when we don’t know how much we’ve spent on our credit cards or that nagging worry we get at the back of our minds when we are unsure if we’ve got enough for a rainy day.

    The same is true for pensions. When your employer deducts your contributions from your pay or your bank pays in a direct debit to your pension each month, it’s hard to connect the cash with that nice warm feeling you get when you know you’ve got your finances sorted.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to wait a year for your annual pension statement.

    You can check if you are on track, anytime, anyplace, from your tablet, smartphone or laptop with a DIY pension (don’t worry there is no DIY involved and someone else – a professional fund manager – does the actual investing) or a SIPP (a self-invested personal pension, which again involves the experts in actually managing your funds).

    Not only you see if you are saving enough, but you can also top-up when you want and see how that could add to your future fund.

    You also get to shop around. And hunt for bargains (or rather funds that offer good value to investors). OK, it might not have the same thrill as shopping for clothes, but you can read up on different investments and choose them – learning about different types of fund management style, the types of companies your cash will invest in and you can be spreading your money around to spread the risk (known as diversification). Or maybe values-based investing is your thing, if it’s important to you that your money reflects your preferences about activities to avoid, or support? Whatever your level of risk or attitude to investing, you can be in control.

    Many pensions now come with the option to do-it-yourself. Standard Life, for example, gives you the choice of 280 different investment funds from leading pension fund managers (and has also negotiated better deals so you benefit from competitive charges).

    You are not left entirely on your own. You will have access to the latest fund prices, performance information and factsheets and if you think you might do better with a different fund, you can review or change your investments simply by logging on or using a mobile app.

    You will need to be confident about making your own investment decisions (with the free online information available) and to review your investments to make sure they are on track. Standard Life also offers a SIPP with an even wider choice of investments.

    Once you’ve taken your cash:

    Even after you’ve taken advantage of the fact you can access your fund from age 55, you will still want the remainder of our pension pot to have the opportunity to grow. With DIY investing in a personal pension or a SIPP you can decide how much to keep in cash so you can access it more easily and how much to invest and where. You’re in control.

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