13 June 2016, 01:00

Revealed: What the over 50s do with their money once the mortgage is paid off

• New research reveals that mortgage repayment ‘pay rises’ are splashed on holidays and home improvements
• Just one in four people use the money they save from paying off their home loan to top up retirement savings
• Saga figures suggest that diverting savings into a pension could result in a potential £40,000 boost to your nest-egg

Britain’s over 50s are splashing their extra income they receive once they’ve paid off their mortgages on holidays, home improvements and gifts for their children1, while less than one in four are using the money to top up their retirement savings, new research from Saga Investment Services has found.

The investment and financial planning service surveyed homeowners who have paid off their mortgage in full to discover what they have subsequently done with the money in the run up to retirement.

Over 50s who own their home outright reported an average monthly income increase of £322. Asked how they used the money once their mortgage had been repaid, half put some of the money into a savings account, while 45% paid out for home improvements. Some 40% spent the money on holidays, while 27% bought a new car.2

The survey also uncovered the gap between paying off a mortgage and retirement. The average retirement age3 for those surveyed was 62, and this group paid off their mortgage at an average age of 55 – a seven year period of mortgage-free income.

Pensions low on the priority list

Less than one in four (23%) diverted the mortgage repayment ‘pay rise’ into their pension. Of those that did do it, an average of 40% of their additional income was put into their pension.

Pension contributions attract generous tax relief from the government, meaning their savings get supercharged as they head towards retirement. Up to 25% of the fund can usually be taken as a tax free amount and any additional withdrawals from the pension are taxed at the savers marginal Income Tax rate. Alternatively, the money can be invested in an ISA, which grows free of Income, Dividend and Capital Gains Tax and can be withdrawn tax-free. However, contributions to an ISA do not enjoy tax relief.

Calculations carried out by Saga Investment Services show that if homeowners had diverted 100% of their monthly mortgage repayments into a pension until their retirement age, attracting basic-rate tax relief, a homeowner could have saved an additional £40,000 towards their retirement.4

Swapping a mortgage for a pension – how much could you save?

Average retirement age 62 years
Average age when the mortgage was repaid 55 years
Average monthly 'pay rise' £322
Potential Payment at retirement age £40,550

Table notes: Figures assume a 5% annual growth rate net of charges, and basic-rate tax relief applied to monthly contributions. Investment returns could be higher or lower depending on the performance of the markets.

Saga Investment Services also surveyed homeowners who are still repaying their mortgage. They reported an average gap of three years between paying off their mortgage and retiring, generating an additional monthly income of £428. Using the same calculation methodology as above, Saga’s figures suggest that they could build up almost £21,000 by placing all of this into a pension.

Commenting on the findings, Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, managing director at Saga Investment Services, said:
“Repaying a mortgage is one of life’s biggest financial achievements, and it’s understandable that people want to enjoy the income boost that they’re finally getting after decades of debt repayments.

“But this often comes when there’s limited time to build up as big a nest-egg as possible for retirement. In our survey, a third of people said they were able to retire earlier than planned because they’d made the effort to put their extra income into their pension, while 44% said they have ended up with a higher retirement income than they originally expected.

“Making the most of your finances in the run up to retirement is vital to ensure you have a comfortable life once work is over. Professional financial advice for people at this age can help formulate a plan to get the income they need. That’s why it’s good to see the government backing greater access to advice by giving people early access to their pension to pay for the help they need.”


Notes to editors:
1. Populus, on behalf of Saga, based on a sample of 989 homeowners aged 50+ carried out between 20 and 22 May 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
2. Survey respondents could select more than one answer.
3. Respondents in the survey were asked to state their retirement age and the age at which they repaid their mortgage separately, rather than estimate the gap between retiring and repaying their mortgage, to ensure greater accuracy. The average ages combine the actual retirement age of those already retired and the expected retirement age of those not yet retired.
4. Pension growth figures assume 100% of average monthly mortgage repayments are invested into a pension, attracting basic-rate tax relief at 20%. The figures then assume an annual growth rate of 5% for the time between the age at which the mortgage is repaid and retirement age.

About Saga Investment Services
Saga Investment Services has been developed to open up the world of investing and financial planning to the UK’s over 50s in the run up to and throughout retirement, and to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. Customers can invest from just £100, and have access to investment advice and financial planning services. Saga Investment Services champions a straight forward and transparent approach to investing, and is a proud member of the Plain English Campaign. It is a joint venture between Saga, the leading provider of services to the nation’s over 50s, and Tilney Bestinvest, the expert investment and financial planning group.

The value of investments, and the income derived from them, can go down as well as up and you can get back less than you originally invested.
This press release does not constitute personal advice. If you are in doubt as to the suitability of an investment please contact one of our advisers. Past performance is not a guide to future performance
The decision to access your pension is an important one and will affect your income and possibly your standard of living for years to come. In light of the new pension rules, before any decision is made on how you access your pension, we recommend you receive regulated financial advice or get free guidance from Pension Wise (www.pensionwise.gov.uk).



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