You may be tempted to put off retirement planning until you're older, but it takes a long time to build up enough to provide a good pension so pension saving should start as early as possible. If you belong to a pension scheme through your job, you might think there's no need for you to do anything, but you should consider whether you need to make extra contributions, and whether or not to stay in part of the state pension scheme. If you're self-employed, you should contribute to a personal plan. (For information about pension planning, see the Which? action pack, Choose Your Pension.)

Protecting your family

If you have dependants - children, or a dependent parent perhaps - you should ensure that they'd be financially protected if you, or your husband or wife, were to die. For most people this means taking out life insurance. If it's protection that you need, avoid expensive investment-type life insurance; instead, choose protection-only (term) insurance 104 for details). If you're self-employed, or if your employer doesn't run a suitable scheme, consider whether you'd need to replace your earnings if you were ill for a long time or permanently disabled. If you would, then you need permanent health insurance ).

Your home

You need to live somewhere, and buying your own home might double up as a sound investment. Big profits have been made in the housing market in the past, but there's no guarantee that will continue. Most people can't afford to buy a home outright so need a mortgage - see p. 44.

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Saving And Investing

Never invest your money in anything that eats or needs repairing. Mitt Romney

If you're looking for a home for your savings or investments, you probably feel spoilt for choice. Every kind of financial institution, from building societies to unit trusts, from banks to insurance companies is competing for your attention and your money. But you need different investments according to your needs and your circumstances. So once you take a closer look, the choice of appropriate investment probably is narrower than it might at first appear.

Sound foundations

Before considering... see: Saving And Investing

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