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That could be more time with family, travelling the world or even some ‘less-worky’ work.
Whether you’re planning to retire on a certain date, go part-time or take a break and re-set your career, thinking ahead and setting goals can put you on course for the future you want.
Sometimes it takes a trigger to make you think about your own future, such as seeing a colleague retire or speaking to friends and family about their own plans.
Whenever you’re ready, here are some of the key things to consider to help you figure out what you want your future to look like. Writing down, or even drawing, some of the answers with specific ideas can be a good way to bring them to life.
The more you can picture your future, the better chance you’ll have of making it a reality.
Do you want to give up work, go part-time, or set up your own business? Or do something completely different?
Put another way – do you enjoy what you do? If you have a desk job, can you imagine carrying it on into later life? If you have a more physical job, can you slowly reduce your hours over time – or find something less strenuous?
Whatever you’d like to do in the future, try to start working towards it as soon as you can. That might mean saving or investing more money to become gradually less reliant on a salary, or starting to hone other skills. If you dream of being a writer one day, you don’t have to wait until you’re retired to first put pen to paper.
Are you happy living where you are, or have you always fancied heading to the coast, the country, or another country altogether?
If you do want to stay where you are – would you keep the home you've got, or look to downsize? If you were to move, could you potentially make some money on selling your place to help fund your lifestyle?
Take note of what aspects are important to you, such as proximity to family, amenities, or climate.
Do you have a burning passion you’d like to pursue? Maybe it’s art, turning a hobby into a business, or simply spending more time in the garden? Maybe it’s combining all three: selling paintings of gardens, for example. OK, that may be a little niche, but plenty of people have turned a hobby into a profitable way of living.
Do you want to take the chance to travel more and experience new places, cultures and activities? Or are the things that mean most to you closer to home – friends and family, for example.
Do you want to give something back to your local community, whether it's volunteering your time or simply being there for loved ones? Would you like to transition towards that while still working, or make a clean break at a certain point?
Do you want to be able to spend more time with your family, whether that’s children, grandchildren or your parents? Will you need to provide financial support for them and if so, how much might that be and for how long?
It’s important to consider the balance between being able to provide financial support for your family and trying to free up enough time to spend together.
These days, many people don’t envisage a hard stop to their working lives. Instead they see themselves tapering off, and doing more of what makes them happy as they grow more financially independent.
Even if you don’t have grand plans to give up work and travel the world someday, it’s a good idea to have a rough timescale for when you’d like to slow down – or even stop work altogether. Because that gives you a target for when you want to become financially independent.
This might be hard to picture when you’re in your 20s or 30s. But the sooner you start to save, the more options you’ll give yourself in the future.
A key part of planning for your long-term future is knowing how much you’ll need to live on when you no longer work – or work less. And that means being realistic about the kind of lifestyle you want.
Our nifty retirement calculator helps you work out how much you may need to live on. It asks you questions about the holidays you’d like to take, the car you’d want to drive (could be electric by then) – even the amount you’d spend a week on groceries. And from there, it gives you a figure to aim for.
It’s worth remembering the new State Pension currently provides a maximum income of £802.31 a month (figures correct for 2022/2023 tax year). For many people, this may not be enough to live on.
Our retirement calculator asks about your old pensions and how much is being saved into your current pension. It then projects whether you’re on track to lead the kind of life you’d like to live – and if not, it tells you some of the things you could do about it.
The important thing is to take action now. Hopefully, you’ll have many years ahead of you and a lot of good living to be done.
The more money you can put aside today, the greater chance you’ll have of living your best life, in later life.
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