Since the pandemic struck, one person in four has reduced the amount of money they are paying into their pension.

Figures from Hargreaves Lansdown show 14% of people have lowered their contributions, while 11% have cut them entirely.

But while saving for retirement can seem like a distant problem, not saving enough now is a mistake that's incredibly hard to correct later.

Separate research from Legal & General Retail Retirement shows that a 50-year-old on average wages who stopped paying in would be nearly £100,000 worse off by the age of 75 if they never saved into their workplace pension again.

The cost to younger Brits would be far higher still.

You should cut pensions contributions last

Sarah Coles, Hargreaves Lansdown personal finance analyst, said: “Men and young people are more likely to have cut payments during the past few months. In many cases, this is because they were far more likely to have been furloughed than women and older workers.

"Younger people may also be quicker to stop contributions because their pension feels like a more distant consideration, so an easy cost to cut.

"However, it’s worth doing what you can to keep paying into your pension throughout your career.

"The money you put in when you’re younger works the hardest for you, so this will come at a higher cost than you expect."

The earlier you start saving, the more powerful each pound put away is

And you lose more than just the money you would have saved by cutting back.

That's because for almost everyone, the cash you put away in a workplace pension is topped up by your boss.

The rules state that if you save 5% of your salary, your boss has to add at least 3%.

More, that's money that's tax free - meaning for each pound you reclaim from pensions contributions, you lose £1.35 from your savings on basic rate tax.

The good news is that the faster you start contributing again, the less the damage to your long term savings.

Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “The concern is that once contributions are stopped or reduced the employee may forget to resume them.

"While they will be re-enrolled three years later they still risk damaging their long term financial stability, particularly if this happens more than once in their career."

Spending 20 years poor is hardly ideal

Of course, it doesn't always make sense to keep paying into your retirement savings when you lose money now.

Pausing pensions contributions to meet essential bills, get food, pay council tax or keep a roof over your family's head is hardly a bad decision.

But given the average retirement now lasts longer than 20 years, making the decision lightly could be something you have an awful lot of time to regret later.

Chris Knight, chief executive of Legal & General Retail Retirement, said: "These are of course challenging times, but while it may be hard to look past current difficulties, it is important not to lose sight of the long-term benefits of saving into a pension to secure a comfortable retirement.

"Despite current circumstances proving challenging, we would urge those who have already saved something for retirement to maintain their contributions.

"Pausing them may be tempting, however people should explore every possible alternative before considering this."