MTTM Podcast Episode 418 – Value Averaging, Pension FAQs and House Price Highlights

5 min Read Published: 11 Jun 2023

Episode 418 - On this week's episode, I explain the concept of value averaging as an alternative investment strategy to achieve a specific future monetary goal. Then, I address frequently asked questions related to pensions which have emerged from recent live events I’ve participated in. Finally, Andy provides a quick update on house prices, explaining the significance of recently released data.

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Abridged transcript of Episode 418

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Value averaging

On this part of the podcast I discuss value averaging as an investment strategy and compare it to pound cost averaging and lump sum investing, including its pros and cons. Some of the insights include:

  • Value averaging is a strategy where you adjust your regular investment amount based on a target value you want to achieve in the future.
  • The goal of value averaging is to reach a predetermined target value over time, regardless of market conditions.
  • Unlike pound cost averaging, where you invest equal amounts over time, value averaging involves adjusting your contributions based on the portfolio's performance at each point that you make a contribution.
  • If the portfolio falls behind the predicted value when you are due to make a contribution, you increase your contributions to catch up, buying more shares or units in a fund when the market is low.
  • If the portfolio exceeds the expected value, you can reduce your contributions or sell some investments to bring it back in line with the expected value at that point.
  • Value averaging enforces disciplined investing behaviour by buying low and selling high, aiming to optimise long-term returns.
  • It also provides a systematic approach that removes emotional decision-making from the investment process.
  • The big disadvantage is that value averaging can be time-consuming and requires initial setup calculation with realistic assumptions and a cash pool to invest additional funds if needed in the future.
  • Value averaging can outperform pound cost averaging during periods of significant market fluctuations and declines.
  • Luck and timing ultimately play a role in value averaging, just like in other investment strategies.
  • Value averaging may appeal to those wanting to achieve a set target amount by a specified future date and who are willing to take risks and invest more during market downturns.

Pension FAQs

In this section of the podcast I discuss the most popular questions I am asked about pensions and retirement planning at live events. Some of my key insights are given below:

  • The amount of money needed for a decent standard of living in retirement varies based on lifestyle choices. The PLSA (Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association) Retirement Living Standards provide figures based on the annual income needed for a comfortable retirement, categorised into three levels: minimum, moderate, and comfortable. You can find the latest figures in the resources section below.
  • The 4% rule for a sustainable withdrawal rate from a defined contribution pension is a broad guideline, but a more realistic range is between 1.8% and 3% as we explained in episode 210 of the MTTM podcast (see resources section below)
  • Annuities are becoming popular again due to increased annuity rates resulting from higher gilt yields. Currently a 65 year old can get over 7% for an annuity with a 5 year guarantee period. This is twice the level achievable at the start of 2022.
  • Consider using retirement calculators (see link to our pension calculator in the resources section below) to estimate the income you can expect from your pension and plan accordingly.
  • Visualise your ideal retirement by thinking about what you don't want it to be and working towards what you do want.
  • Have conversations about money with your partner.
  • Make sure you take advantage of auto-enrolment via a company pension scheme and employer pension contributions if you are employed.
  • The general rule of thumb for pension contributions is to contribute at least half your age as a percentage of your income if you've not started already.
  • Starting early with pension contributions can take advantage of the power of compounding, while delaying contributions will require significantly larger monthly amounts to achieve the same retirement income. A 25 year old investing £200 a month (£100 employee and £100 employer contributions) over 40 years will retire at 65 with a pension pot worth over £500,000. A 45 year old starting to contribute to their pension would have to invest a total of around £1,000 a month to achieve the same result.
  • Unconventional retirement approaches, such as generating income from hobbies or passions, can help supplement retirement funds.
  • Carry forward rules allow for unused pension allowances from previous tax years to be used, but you must have been a member of a pension for the entire period to take advantage of the rules.
  • Retirement spending habits can change over time, with spending increasing slightly in the early years and then shifting towards different categories of expenses later on - listen to MTTM podcast 372 below for more information.
  • Freelancers should still put money aside for retirement, even though they don't benefit from auto-enrolment.
  • Directors of businesses should remember to prioritise their own pension contributions, with gross pension contributions paid by the company usually being the most tax-efficient way to do this.

House price highlights

In this section of the podcast we discuss the latest house price data and explain the chart below.


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Links referred to in the podcast:


Halifax and Nationwide house price data

Data sources: Halifax, Nationwide