One person in four isn't putting away any cash at all, according to a new report from pensions firm Scottish Widows. And half of those who are saving, invest too little.

But at just £114.05 a week, including guaranteed pension credit, for a single person and £174.05 for a couple, anything but basic necessities will be out of reach.

To ensure you make the right decision, consult an independent financial adviser (IFA). Contact: IFA Promotion (0800 085 3250, www.unbiased.co.uk), the Personal Finance Society (020 8530 0852, www.thepfs.org), or the Institute of Financial Planning (0117 945 2470, www.financialplanning. org.uk).

Pension savings are invested in the stock market, so no one can be sure what they'll produce by the time you retire. But as a rule of thumb, to get this level of income, divide the age at which you start saving by two.

If you wait until 30 to begin saving, aim to put away at least 15 per cent of your earnings. By 40, you will need to save 20 per cent to be reasonably certain of a decent retirement.

These are the decades when your earning power is likely to be highest, so if you can spare more, plough it into your pension or other long-term investments.

Also check your state entitlement and plug any gaps in your National Insurance (NI) record. For the minimum pension, worth a quarter of the basic weekly amount, men must pay full-rate NI for 11 tax years, women for 10.

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