January 25, 2023

5 ‘smart’ goals that are easier than New Year’s resolutions

2023 road ahead

As we enter a new year, you may be looking to make big, bold changes in your life.

Giving up smoking, eating healthily and getting fit are likely to be top contenders on many 2023 to-do lists. But New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously hard to keep, particularly if you’re trying to break habits that you’ve had for years, or you’re setting goals that are difficult to measure and hard to complete.

Alternatively, you might’ve heard of ‘smart’ goals before? These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. By setting goals that meet these criteria, rather than traditional resolutions, you’re more likely to get somewhere – and feel good about your progress when things don’t always go to plan.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you could apply smart goals to your financial situation. More specifically, your pension. By working your way through the steps below, you can make meaningful changes to your retirement.

1. Check your state pension forecast

First thing’s first, let’s check your state pension forecast. It’ll tell you how much you’re likely to get, when you can get it, and how to increase it if you can.

The state pension is the cornerstone of retirement planning. Unfortunately, many people underestimate just how much difference it can make to their retirement. Take a look at our video on understanding the state pension here.

The state pension will increase in April, putting the maximum amount you can receive at above £10,000 a year for the first time.

The rise is due to the state pension ‘triple lock’, which sees payments increase in line with whichever is higher of the following:

•The consumer price index measure of inflation (taken in the September before the April increase)

•Average earnings between May and July of the previous year


With inflation standing at 10.1% in September 2022 (towering above the average wage growth of 5.2% and the set figure of 2.5%), pension payments will increase in line with this rate.

Pensioners in receipt of the full new state pension will get an extra £19 a week, while those who receive the full basic state pension (because they reached state pension age before April 2016) will get an extra £14 a week.

2. Make sure your National Insurance contributions are up-to-date

The amount of state pension you’ll receive will depend on how many qualifying years of National Insurance contributions you’ve made. You can check your National Insurance record online.

If there are any gaps in your record, you can make voluntary contributions to fill them. It’s a good idea to plug these gaps in the first quarter of 2023 because from the 5th April you’ll only be able to make voluntary contributions for the past six years.

With the April deadline looming, this tip works perfectly with the time-based element of smart goal setting. Tick it off your to-do list in time and your future self will thank you.

3. Track down lost pensions

As we mentioned last month, It’s believed there are as many as three million lost pension pots across the UK, with research from the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) suggesting their value could add up to £26.6 billion in total.

Many pensioners who’ve worked hard to save throughout their working lives may retire with less than they deserve. If you think you might’ve misplaced an old pension, the government’s Pensions Tracing Service can help you track it down.

4. Find out if the DWP owes you money

If you reached state pension age before April 2016, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) might owe you money.

This is due to a state pension error believed to affect roughly 237,000 people. According to figures released in November 2022, underpayments worth up to £209.3 million have been identified, with some people being owed as much as £10,000 in back payments.

To find out if you’ve been affected, contact The Pension Service on 0800 731 0469

5. Speak to your financial planner

You may feel comfortable tackling the above steps without our help, but we’re always on hand to help you achieve your financial goals and money resolutions, large and small.

And with the help of broader financial planning, such as cashflow modelling and regular retirement reviews, you can feel more confident and comfortable about what the future holds.

By following these five steps, you can make meaningful and lasting changes to your life in 2023 – without the guilt and shame that comes with pouring yourself a glass of whisky when you’re supposed to be doing Dry January!

January 25, 2023