Ladies! We strive for workplace equality… what about in retirement?

Read time: 4 Minutes

Retirement – for some of us it feels like years away, for many others it can’t come soon enough. No matter what stage of your life you are in, if you aren’t already making plans for how you’re going to fund your golden years then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about it.

According to the Irish times, nearly two-thirds of women have found themselves with a much lower pension entitlement than expected. While reasons for this vary and the rule to qualify for a full state pension are complicated, factors such as working abroad, self-employment, being a stay-at-home mother or carer have had a huge impact.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission found the gap between men and women’s pensions currently stands at 38%.  However, the existing gender pay gap, along with the fact that a larger percentage of women work part-time or take career breaks due to family commitments, have resulted in women retiring on average with over a third less than men. These statistics show that many Irish women aren’t adequately prepared for when we do reach retirement.

Taking to the streets of Dublin, we asked women their thoughts on pensions and how they’d like to spend their retirement. Many of those we spoke to said they’d like to travel and enjoy their free time, but hadn’t thought about how they’d pay for this, with some having no savings at all.


How can women ensure they have an adequate pension?

From March 2018, the full state pension will be worth €243.30 per week for those under the age of 80 and €253.30 per week for those over 80. To replicate this in the private sector, it is estimated that it would cost somewhere in the region of €250,000.

How do I qualify?

To qualify, you’ll need to have a minimum of 10 years’ PRSI contributions (520 contributions), plus an average of 48 contributions per year if you want to get the full state pension. The average begins from the year of your first PRSI contribution to the year you retire. This is where many women have been disadvantaged by the system.

Those who take a career break, reduced hours or perhaps casual working hours, but return to full-time in employment at a later time, are (on average) at a greater disadvantage of those who began full-time employment later in life – say 40+. And, why is this? Well, because the former has made more PRSI contributions than the latter, but the substantial gap due to reduced working hours cuts their overall average contribution, and therefore what they are entitled to come retirement.

But it’s not great news for stay-at-home mammies.
In 2016, 445,500 women stayed at home to look after their families compared to just 9,200 men.

Fortunately, in 1994 the homemaker scheme was introduced which allows for up to 20 years to be disregarded from the calculations, so your average contributions won’t be negatively affected by this choice. Those claiming child benefit, carer’s allowance/benefit or respite care will be automatically entitled to this.

What if I’ve worked overseas?

If working abroad has caused a gap in your PRSI contributions, reducing your average annual contributions, you could find yourself entitled to a reduced rate of the state pension.  This depends on where you worked and if you made social insurance contributions. These contributions will be considered as part of your eligibility, but only after your Irish contributions.  You must have a minimum of 52 weeks of Irish insurance to be considered, however you still may not be eligible for the full rate.

Freelance work - how does it count for pensions?

What about the part-timers?

At present those who work as little as 4 hours per week on minimum wage are eligible for the full state pension. However, the threshold could change in the near future, requiring you to earn a minimum of €70 per week from part-time employment. From 2020, new entrants to the workforce will be auto-enrolled to the Governments new pension scheme based on total contributions rather than average contributions, which may reduce part-time workers benefits in the future.

…and the self-employed?

You will not be paying the PRSI contributions that will allow you to qualify if you earn less than €5,000 a year. However, those employed on a part-time basis qualify if they are earning just €1,976 per year.

If you do work for yourself, then it can be more difficult to claim state pension than for those working less hours in part-time employment. However, as a self-employed individual, you can opt into paying the PRSI contributions as a “voluntary contributor”, for just €500 per year you will retain your entitlement to a full pension. This threshold may change so it is worth keeping a close eye on to ensure you remain eligible.

Check if you have one!

Although not required, it is common for employers in both the public and private sector to contribute to supplementary pension arrangements.  Depending on the type of pension scheme, your benefits may include a pension linked to your salary and service at the time of retirement. However, the most common approach is to base the pension on the total sum of contributions made by yourself and your employer to your retirement fund.

You will have the option to increase your contributions. Dedicating time to research if your current contributions will be enough for you and your family’s financial security, or if it is in your interests to increase your voluntary contributions is crucial.

Calculating savings and contributions for pension

Is it time for me to invest in a pension?

There are a number of areas of concern and a level of uncertainty about the current state pension system around how it may leave us vulnerable in the future. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has expressed concerns that the law does not adequately protect workers who may face compulsory retirement before the State pension age which continues to increase. The commission also believes that the effectiveness of the state pension has been reduced due to lower electricity and fuel allowances and the rising cost of long-term care.

The government’s new auto-enrolment pension scheme is due to roll out for new entrants to the workplace in 2020.  The new system, designed as a solution to the current situation, moves away from average contributions to total contribution. Industry experts have expressed concern about how this will work.

Only a third of women have a pension,71% are unsure how to start a pension and a staggering 41% of women believe they will still have to work at 70!  The study also shows that men are more likely to have invested in a pension than women.

With the uncertainty surrounding the future of the state pension; what age in the future you will able to avail of it and what it will be worth to you by then, it is advisable to review your finances and work out what you can start saving. Especially if, like many of our interviewees, you intend to retire earlier in life, travel, and maintain your standard of living, a private pension is a worthwhile investment.

Let us help you plan your future!

Try our pension calculator to find out your estimated annual income on retirement.

7 Ways to Cope with Financial Stress

Read time: 4 Minutes

Money Anxiety Disorder (with its ominous acronym MAD) is not only a diagnosed condition, for some, it’s a worrying way of life.

You could argue it became a national sport in Ireland during the financial crisis and despite the fact the economy has stabilised, it’s important to recognise that not everyone has bounced back at the same rate.

Some of us still need help curbing the urge to dwell and get stressed out when it comes to money.

The two most important things to note from the get-go are:

  1. It’s perfectly natural to worry about money from time-to-time.

Even with the best laid financial plans, unforeseen expenses crop up and our regular outgoings can get the better of us occasionally. So, a little worry is par of the course for all of us.

  1. There are lots of proven tips and strategies to help relieve the pressure.

Stress, while completely understandable, is counterproductive. So, instead of wasting energy focusing on the negative, psychologists recommend tapping into simple, proactive steps that can make real inroads to improving your financial situation and mental wellness.

The symptoms

Money worries can look pretty standard from the outside, but everyone can benefit from understanding the difference between a healthy amount of time spent thinking about money and where the line is crossed into more extreme anxiety.

That way, you can recognise it in yourself or those closest to you and nip it in the bud quickly.

People with Money Anxiety Disorder tend to:

  • Worry about money most of the time
  • Find it hard to focus on anything else
  • Worry about future events
  • Stress unnecessarily about losing their job, home or getting ill
  • Feel ashamed
  • Have trouble relaxing and sleeping
  • Suffer from back or neck pain
  • Struggle with headaches and stomach pain
  • Experience panic attacks
  • Feel helpless and fear there is no way to improve their situation

Kick financial stress into touch

It’s not a pleasant list, but the good news is there are so many ways to get the balance back on track, and it’s never as hopeless as it might appear.

Here are our 7 top tips for keeping financial stress in check and tackling stress from a more positive place.

Money Anxiety

  1. Recognise the signs

If any of the signs mentioned above look familiar, in you or someone close, it’s important to stop, take stock and acknowledge that you’re worrying more than you should. It’s only when you admit something’s not quite right, you can get to work fixing it with a realistic financial plan that allows you to take back control.

  1. Talk and take good advice

A problem shared is a problem halved, making a friend, partner, debt counsellor or a financial advisor a good starting point if you need help seeing through the fog and getting some perspective.

If you don’t have a financial advisor, StepChange and MABS have offices throughout Ireland and offer free, confidential and independent advice on everything from budgeting to managing debts linked to mortgage repayments, credit cards and utility bills.

Expert financial advice is always available and the internet is awash with free tried and tested tips, so tap into good counsel and practical tools wherever you can find them. They can help you focus, identify where your finances are falling down and put some structure in place to right the wrongs.

  1. Prioritise

Tackle the big stuff first or anything that needs immediate attention.

If it’s debt, get an affordable payment plan up and running, so you can start making progress and manage your outgoings better.

If you’re worried about retirement, work out what you can budget on a regular basis or if you’re expecting money that could be used to boost contributions, down the track.

If a fear of ill-health or an inability to earn keeps you awake at night, look into income protection and life insurance, to help secure your future from the unknown.

If it’s your job, career progression or the threat of redundancy that worries you, you should talk to your employer and address your concerns head on. Forewarned is forearmed and an honest conversation can help put your mind at ease, or give you advance notice if a job search is looking likely in the near future.

Plan your finances

  1. Save what you can

It’s not always easy, but putting even a small amount aside regularly, can create an emergency fund and invaluable lifeline.

Setting up a direct debit and keeping money out of arm’s reach in a separate account, reduces your chances of falling foul of the dreaded impulse buy or over-spending, so think about how you can put a little aside and start fluffing your financial cushion.

  1. Reduce spend and boost income

Consolidating payments, shopping around for insurance, choosing bundled price packages for things like TV and broadband (or cancelling the package you never use because you’re addicted to Netflix), all make sense.

Even swapping out branded products for less spendy groceries in your shopping trolley are no-brainers if you want to tighten your purse strings.

There’s a good chance you can generate cash without too much effort also. Start by looking for the ‘big ticket items’ around your home that you no longer love or use.

The mountain bike gathering dust in the shed, collection of mobile phones in the kitchen drawer or spare wardrobe stuffed with clothes and handbags you haven’t looked at all year. They’re all valuable pots of cash waiting to happen.


If it needs to be something bigger to make a noticeable difference, a second job, dog walking, a short-term lodger or putting your home on Airbnb if there are periods you’re not around, can provide an income that goes straight into your emergency saving fund.

  1. Stay positive

Positivity can gather pace just as quickly as negativity, so try to keep upbeat, learn from the things that are going well and celebrate the wins!

  1. Be kind to yourself

That doesn’t mean blowing your salary on a shiny new gadget at the end of each month, but giving yourself some breathing room and doing everything possible to manage your stress levels, is important.


Anxiety can have a big impact on your physical and mental health and little TLC can go a long way, particularly if you’ve acknowledged where things are going wrong and you’re doing everything you can to improve your situation.

Wellness gurus recommend socialising outside, putting your feet up when you get the chance, spending time with friends and making time for some fun.

After all, laughter might still be the best medicine – and it’s free!

Let us help you plan your future!

Saving for the future can be an overwhelming prospect. Building a financial plan can help you set realistic goals and ease the stress.