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At what age should we start talking to our kids about retirement?

Retirement and pensions always have been and always will be a hot topic in the financial world. Legislation changes pretty much every year and new rules and regulations make it complicated to keep pace with what's going on and how it will eventually effect our twilight income.

This got me thinking about how to drive the importance of saving for retirement to those new generations who are just finishing their GCSEs, A-Levels and those moving on to university. There's no doubt that starting early should hopefully pay dividends in the years to come, but how do you convince a teenager to think about parting with an income they haven't even earned yet? So I decided to have a conversation with my 16 year old about retirement.

He's just completed his GCSEs and as a very keen and skillful footballer is looking forward to taking up a scholarship offer with a local football academy.

"So, have you thought about retirement?" I asked him, and on cue with a very bewildered look on his face he replied "No! That's like 50 years away!" I went on to then explain about the state pension and personal pensions and retirement age in the best laymans terms I could so that he understood what I meant...well I think he did anyway! Helping him think about starting to save something now, potentially means having to save less later. We talked about how the state pension age is increasing, the ageing population is living longer, the cost of living get's higher and how inflation can erode the value of your money. We also talked about standard of living, how much income he may like to receive, what he'd like to do when he retires etc.

At the end of the conversation and looking even more bewildered than when we started he said he didn't want to get old! However, he also said he understands more now how important it is to start saving early and is also more open to ensuring that once he does start working he will put that money aside.

Now, I'm not using my son as a barometer for the whole of the youth in the UK, but I do think that when you explain it to them in terms of maintaining a certain standard of living and what money they will have to spend when they get older, they do understand how important it is.

Most retirement marketing focuses on people in their 30's and over, but if we really want to instill good financial values into our children, shouldn't we start before they earn an income and only learn to spend, spend, spend?

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