A new report from Phoenix Group’s longevity think tank, Phoenix Insights, has shed light on the financial challenges faced by middle-aged individuals in the United Kingdom, highlighting their efforts to save more for retirement.

The research, based on a survey of 2,000 participants aged 45 to 54, reveals that over five million people in this age group are taking proactive steps to secure their financial future during their golden years.

The study unveils a range of measures being adopted by midlifers to bolster their retirement savings. Notably, 59 percent of respondents in the 45 to 54 age bracket are actively engaged in strategies to enhance their financial security.

One of the most common tactics employed by midlifers is reigning in their current spending. The survey found that 18 percent of respondents are cutting back on short-term indulgences such as holidays and luxury items.

What other sacrifices do people make?

Other popular measures include increasing contributions to workplace pensions (14%), contributing more to personal pensions (14%), and selling belongings they no longer need (14%).

Recognising that small sacrifices can lead to significant savings, over 44 percent of respondents are willing to give up eating out and takeaways, while 29 percent are considering reducing Christmas spending. These adjustments are seen as crucial steps in accumulating the additional funds required to maintain a moderate standard of living in retirement.

According to Phoenix Insights, midlifers in the UK face a pressing challenge when it comes to preparing for retirement. Respondents cited the high cost of living (63%) and rising mortgage costs (20%) as factors that make saving for retirement a formidable task. With an average of £88,000 in retirement savings, midlifers are looking at a substantial shortfall of £160,000, according to estimates from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

What about downsizing your home?

However, it is not just about cutting back on spending; many respondents are contemplating more significant lifestyle changes to boost their long-term financial security. Approximately 10 percent are exploring the possibility of downsizing their homes, while 8 percent are considering applying for higher-paid jobs or taking on second jobs.

The report also highlights the gap in retirement planning between midlifers (aged 45 to 54) and those aged 55 and over. Only 18 percent of midlifers with workplace pensions have defined benefit schemes, compared to 26 percent in the older age group. This generation of workers may have missed out on auto-enrolment benefits for as much as 21 years of their working life, as this policy only applied to employees aged 22 and over when it was introduced in October 2012.

Despite these challenges, the research underscores a growing awareness among midlifers about the importance of planning for their retirement. Over 42 percent of respondents claimed to have a retirement savings plan, and 45 percent are actively trying to save more.

No one-size-fits-all solution

Phoenix Group’s Patrick Thomson, Head of Research Analysis and Policy at Phoenix Insights, commented on the findings, “Everyone’s journey to and through retirement will be different, and it’s clear there is no one-size-fits-all for how those in midlife are saving and planning for this time in their life. As we are living longer than the generations before us, we all need to think differently about our futures, and the futures of those we care about.

“For many, this can be a challenging topic to engage with. Our research shows that nearly half (49%) of people aged 45-to-54 find thinking about their finances is the hardest part of retirement planning. But with the support of those around you, we can all take the steps – large or small – to build a better retirement.”

The findings serve as a reminder that it is never too late to begin planning and taking action for a more secure financial future during retirement. As midlifers grapple with the challenges of saving for their golden years, their determination and resilience in the face of financial uncertainty are both commendable and necessary for a brighter retirement ahead.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.