Lifestyle planning: How do you see your future self?

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Lifestyle planning: How do you see your future self?
Some painful questions we have to face about the state of our finances.

You, the MyEva community, directly provided us with inspiration for our focus on lifestyle planning, which is in itself an important driver for attending to those complicated, sometimes painful questions we ask ourselves about the state of our finances.

We asked just under 1,700 MyEva app users about their attitudes to retirement planning and how their monthly budget and savings measure-up in practice. The responses uncovered some worrying truths, which were picked-up on by the press, including HR News and Money Marketing. Some of the most startling of these truths, which were shared with employers and the MyEva team anonymously, were:

  • 40% of respondents were “not interested” or had never paid into a pension.
  • 58% of those surveyed would “struggle or panic” if faced with an unexpected bill.
  • 62% of people said they had not been able to save any money, even though they wanted to.

Given the rise of the ‘working poor’, a phrase that’s become hauntingly familiar over the last few years for anyone with the slightest interest in current affairs or Government agendas, here at MyEva HQ, we’ve been grappling with ways to help readers dare to plan for a comfortable future. It’s tempting to stay focused on monthly essentials - indeed, that’s all some of us can afford to do at present - but, we must eke out solutions and spare a thought for our future selves.

Who might we become in 20, 30, 40 years if we carry on down our current financial trajectory? Depressing as it may be and as far away as we think we might be from retirement right now, we’re determined to start visualising and building the lifestyle we want, even if we have to wait decades in order to really feel like we’re living the life we want.If we don’t build this picture of the future and reverse engineer it with smart financial advice and concrete plans for our money, that future will come and hit us over the head anyway, so why not be as prepared as we can for it?!So, that said, below is the first step we at MyEva HQ have vowed to take, for the sake of our fabulous OAP life!

Visualise and specify

Whether you’re into vision boards and affirmations or not, not many would dispute the value of a roadmap to keep you on track and to help you to decide exactly what it is you want. Brain dump, mind map or Pinterest to your heart’s content with thoughts of the future in mind - what would constitute a perfect day for your retired self? How many times a week would you like to go out and to where? Which supermarket can you afford to frequent? How many holidays will you take each year and will there be anyone you’d like to treat in the process - maybe you can imagine some grandchildren that don’t exist yet, sitting next to you on the plane to Disneyland.

A good place to begin this process is to think about all the costs you might incur in a typical day, including bills, non-negotiables like petrol and your weekly manicure and then layer in less frequent expenses and leisure pursuits as well as emergency funds. Try to think about the priorities of an older person - things like glasses, loans to any children you might want to help out and funeral planning might become important to you, even if you’re not bothered about them now.

A big proponent of the power of visualisation is Felicity Johnson, 57, a TUPE consultant from Kent:, who told us:

“When I retire, I imagine living flexibly, being based in the UK with frequent travel abroad and not tied down to any one country. I might spend three months in Spain before jetting off to the Caribbean or America. I’ve already plotted out my dream holiday destinations and with 10 years left until retirement, I know I need about £30,000 more in my pension pot because I’ve tried to cost it all out.”
Next steps

Once we have the vision laid out and we’ve perhaps included in it our partner’s wishes for the future, the next thing we recommend is to take professional advice. Much like cheap washing-up liquid and drinks that don’t carry the sugar tax (my poor teeth), failing to invest in proper, regulated and independent financial advice is a real false economy in my opinion!

After a thorough financial health check and targeted, personal advice that will be drawn-up by yourself and a professional who specialises in making stuff like this happen (all of which you can do via MyEva, by the way), the final step is simply to work your plan, one step at a time. Easier than it sounds we know and in many cases hard to stick at for very long, when your financial adviser tells you how much you could save by foregoing your daily iced coffee!

Nonetheless, we owe it to our elder selves to at least find out just how far away (or comfortingly accessible) our dream lifestyle is.

Simone Crow, 27, a journalist and author from London, learned the true value of financial advice when she realised her mistake in buying a brand new Maserati:

“I was earning an average London salary and a few hundred pounds a month from freelance work, but nothing could have prepared me for the six-figure advance I got for my first book at the age of 25. I was constantly nagged by my older brother about seeking financial advice before spending any of it, but of course I didn’t listen and believe it or not, I thought the fees were too high!“ I paid over the odds for a new ‘super car’ and now it’s worth a tiny percentage of its original value. I eventually went to an adviser after one came to my office to give a talk and I had many regrets about that car at the end of that first consultation!“ I took their advice and invested most of the remaining advance, but if I had my time again I would never buy what I now know is a depreciating asset, especially since I didn’t even own a property at the time! My future self will certainly be better informed and less impulsive than the 25 year-old me.”

In the coming weeks, we will dive deeper into steps two and three - ‘Get professional, personalised advice’ and ‘Working your plan’.

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