THE MENOPAUSE. Whether you’re early, peri, during or post menopause, recent research shows that it’s not just the physical and mental effects of the menopause that we women have to deal with. The menopause has the potential to hit us in the pocket too.

On a personal level, I consider myself lucky. Beyond the fact that I only need look at chocolate to pile on the pounds and I occasionally get a little bit of brain fog (which is bizarrely verbal, I never struggle to get words down on a page - thank goodness), touch wood I’m relatively free of menopausal symptoms.

Equally, on a professional level, I feel supported and able to talk about the menopause at work - as we have a pretty forward-thinking and inclusive menopause support programme here at Fidelity.

But I know from talking to friends and family that this isn’t the case for everyone.

Around a million women’s pensions are worse off in the UK due to the menopause.

In fact, according to the report ‘Bridging the Gender Pension Gap’ from mutual life and pensions company, Royal London1, women are more likely than men to reduce their hours - or exit work altogether - in their 50s, which is the prime age bracket for pension saving.

The report goes on to say that the menopause could leave a £63,000 dent in a woman’s retirement savings as a result of moving to reduced hours.

What’s more, the impact of stopping work altogether – which around a million women have had to do because of menopausal symptoms – could result in their pensions being a staggering £126,000 worse off.

As the research shows, this is largely because workers are most focused on saving for their retirement in the years leading up to it. The over 55s are saving the greatest amount, more than twice as much as those aged 18-34. So, being able to save during this stage of life is critical to achieving healthier savings - it’s also a time when many women are at the peak of their careers.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Of course, there are no givens when it comes to the menopause. You may be completely unaffected. Or you may not. But where’s the harm in preparing for the worst and hoping for best? This way, no matter what the future holds, you’ll at least be able to face it with more confidence - from a financial perspective at least.

Little changes can make a big difference

Consider putting away an extra 1% into your pension. It really can make a big difference over time.

And make sure you max out on any company pension contributions that are on offer - after a while you probably won’t even notice the money coming out as it’s taken at source.

If you get a pay rise or bonus, you may also want to think about adding this to your pension pot - even contributing some of it will help in the long run.

And think about combining your pensions if you’ve collected a few in your working career. Bringing them together could make them easier to manage and it could work out cheaper for you. Learn more about transferring your pension here.

Taking control of your finances really can help you feel better about the future. And small sacrifices now will likely benefit your future self.

1 Royal London - 31 October 2022

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