How many dolly mixtures are in your jar?

You won’t know how much your money is worth, unless you ask.

SUBURBAN Belfast, Autumn 2018: a four year-old boy finds a 5p piece on the kitchen floor. Not understanding money, and thinking he's rich, he goes to the corner shop, slaps his money on the counter and points to the jar of dolly mixtures.

“How many can I get, mister?”

The grumpy shopkeeper opens the jar, throws two sweets on the counter and says: “There yee are, wee lawd. Mix them yourself.”

Now, as ever with our wise anecdotes, there is a grain of truth. You won't know how much your money is worth, unless you ask. You need to know how much you'll have to spend, if you aspire to retire, and these days, retirements are getting longer and longer. It's not about stopping work. It's about a long-term project that needs careful planning.

In the week after ‘Fiscal Phil' in No.11 Downing Street announced his new Budget, the theme is more current than ever.

Latest research shows, however, that many of us don't know how much we will need when we retire, and we don't know how much we have so far.

We are dealing with three groups here – can you spot which one you belong to?

First the ‘Baby Boomers', that's you if you were born shortly after World War Two, and are in your 60s now. Clue: if you are still insisting Elvis is sharing a flat in Donegal with Roy Orbison, you are a Baby Boomer.

Next we have Generation X. These are people born in the 60s and 70s, now in their 40s and 50s, who might aspire to retire anytime after 2025. If you believe that CDs never came close to the sound quality of vinyl, and you know how to wind a tape back into a cassette with a pencil, then you are Generation X. (Love the new glasses, by the way. Where did you get them?)

Then come the Millennials, those born from the mid-1980s onwards, who reached young adulthood in the years just after 2000. If you think Yellow Submarine is a vessel for deep sea exploration, or only know Bing as a search engine and not the best crooner ever, then you're probably a Millennial.

But let's get back to hard facts.

Research company has surveyed over 2,000 across all three groups, and find that a third of us (35 per cent) say we don't have a pension. Furthermore, two-fifths (43 per cent) of us say we have no clue how much we might need in retirement, we have no idea what we should aim for.

Over half (55 per cent) of us believe £100,000 would be enough to retire on, but only a quarter of us (28 per cent) believe we are on track to achieve that. Even more worrying, a quarter (26 per cent) believe that just £50,000 would do them.

Well, the respected pension company Royal London says this is nowhere near enough. They say that for a comfortable retirement you ideally need to be aiming for £445,000, but as an absolute minimum you will need £260,000.

Let's see how each of our groups is doing, in the pension saving stakes. People who say they have no pension: if you're a Baby Boomer it's a quarter (24 per cent), if you are Generation X it's a third (33 per cent) and for Millennials who maybe just haven't got round to it yet, it's over half (55 per cent).

Of course, before you can do even basic planning towards a comfortable retirement, you need to know how much you've got so far. Fact is, many of us don't. Nearly a third (32 per cent) of Baby Boomers haven't a clue, Generation X is even more bewildered (44 per cent) and it's a third again for Millennials (32 per cent).

With a little time well spent with a financial adviser, you can find out where you stand today, and work out whether you need to be saving more, to have the level of comfort and financial security you and your family want, later on.

Would you like to know how many dolly mixtures are in your jar? Let us check for you now - don't end up mixing them yourself!

:: Michael Kennedy and Shaun Doherty are independent financial advisers and pensions specialists, and can be contacted on 028 71886005. Further information is available on the Facebook page 'Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd' or the website

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