*This post is in collaboration with the new Aviva Shape my Future tool.
The Aviva Shape my Future tool uses simple inputs to give a basic idea of retirement income. Details of assumptions are available at Aviva.co.uk.
I’ve always been the sort of person that strives for the future. And sometimes I have to remind myself to focus on the present, because, truthfully, that is the only thing we truly have. This moment. Right now. The one guarantee. So I do try and live life, day-by-day, but then I can’t help but prepare myself for what might happen next.
I remember when Daisy was born, and I went from asking when we could go home, expecting an answer of that day, to “not today”, to “not tomorrow”, and in the end it was six weeks.
One day, I remember quite clearly. It was boiling hot outside. William was with his dad. And I was sat with Mark. And we were finding that day especially hard. Because we just wanted to be outside. To breathe. To feel the sun on our faces. And to take our baby daughter beyond the hospital walls, and see something new. But we couldn’t. We sat inside the baking neonatal unit, a pale yellow, and a background of beeps, whirs and tiny baby mewling cries. We sat companionably, in silence, taking turns to hold our baby, or to read, or think, or daydream, which I often did.
And I would always imagine now actually. I would imagine the Autumn months. Because, in my head, that was the only time I could imagine us all being home. I imagined Daisy might be okay by then. I imagined that things may be more ‘normal’, and I would look forward to looking forward.
And now we are here, she is six months old today, and it is exactly as I thought it would be. Though different too. Different because the past does still haunt me. And I’m not sure how long that will last, but I am working on it and that’s what counts.
Now I have two children, who are growing at an alarming rate, I find myself wondering what the future holds for us. What will Daisy look like when she gets older? How will Bill do in his first year of school? Will we ever finish this house? Do we need a new car soon? Will I ever lose all of this weight?
And beyond all that – will I get as many years as I hope with Mark, until we are old and grey? Will we do okay on our pensions? Will we ever get a dog? What will I look like as an older lady?
What if? What if? What if?
We already have life insurance in case anything should ever happen to us. We chose all of that when we remortgaged again. And for the first time, it actually felt like a real thing to prepare for. Will our babies be okay without us? How much is enough?
But then, on the other side, we have so much future to look forward to. We are shaping our future every day, in the present. We don’t always realise it. Already we are wondering if we will be blessed with a third child, if we will stay in this house and squish in together, whether we’ll always do the jobs we do or if that might change, and wondering when the fun really starts – when we retire!
I became a mother at 23 years-old – well, I fell pregnant then and that’s when my journey began. I’ve spent the majority of my 20s growing and caring for my children. And if I’ve not been doing that, I’ve been working, saving and doing up houses. I love my life. And I am so pleased with what we have achieved. But I am also looking forward to a future when our kids are grown, and Mark and I can discover the world together, just with a few more wrinkles!
I have a pension, and I’ve had one since I was 21 – I know, I was organised wasn’t I? But the Aviva Shape my Future tool helps you work out what you can expect to receive when you retire, and how to budget and plan ahead. So if you haven’t got a pension, it could spur you on, or at least encourage you to put more away. It also helps you to envisage your future lifestyle and what you would like for yourselves. Think holidays, trips out, meals and food, and even spoiling grandchildren with Christmas presents.
You can select what you would like to see for yourself and then see how that compares to your expected budget. I have realised I need to start saving more if I’d like to live the life I want further down the line. State Pension, at the moment, is £156 per week from when you turn the age of 68. And that may be 40 years away for me just yet, but I already know, from living on Statutory Maternity Pay, that that’s not a lot of money. According to the Shape my Future tool, I can expect to have around £270 to survive on per week in the future, if I continue to pay into my pension. But even then – that doesn’t seem like a lot when you factor in things like bills, and experiences, and even just healthy fruit and veg.
In my next post, I’m going to see how much that weekly allowance would last me and my family for the week and see how achievable that actually is.
I think, as parents, we spent so much time wondering about our children and their future, and whether they will be okay. But I think we also need to remember that we deserve a future to look forward to too. I’m hoping my future includes Mark, three grown children, a Labrador, a holiday once a year, and perhaps a grandbaby or two.
But I’ll make the most of what I’ve got, for as long as I have it.