I am not a pensions expert but having taken advice from an Independent Financial Advisory decided to take out a stakeholder pension. There a tax benefit in that you don't pay income tax on this so for every £1 you pay you effectlively get what ever the basic rate of tax is as well paid into your pension. I did think about buying extra years but it seemed very expensive also I like the idea of a stakeholder as I could carry on paying into it regardless of whether I continue in teaching or not. The way things are looking in my LA at the moment, much though I'd like to stay teaching till I'm old enough to retire that might not be an option. As for the mortgage I'd say if you can pay off more then do so. When we took ours out interest rates were quite high and when they came down we were able to carry on paying the higher amount every month. Evnetually we were able to up our over payments and were able to pay off the mortgage about 3 years early. Check with your provider what you can do and ask about any charges.