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Can't afford a pension

Q: Is it possible to opt out of the teachers' pension scheme? It might be irresponsible to think about, but I am heavily in debt following my PGCE year and simply cannot afford to lose up to pound;100 of my pay every month. Could I rejoin the scheme at a later date if I wanted to?

A: You are being caught by the problems of compound interest. The earlier you start paying into a pension scheme, the more it is worth in the longer term when you come to draw it out. However, you have more immediate debts that need repaying. The first thing to do is to review your lifestyle to see whether there is any way you can both repay your debt and pay into the pension scheme. Some short-term pain will be worth the long-term gain. If you are teaching full-time, you can't opt out of the pension scheme even if you wanted to.

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