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Shape my future

We all want a good retirement. But why not aim for a great one?

What will your future look like?

Ever wondered what life might be like when you retire? Use our Shape my Future tool to find out.

Start Shape my Future

Login now to take a look at your workplace pension

Aviva – Unisure Membersite My Money

If you’re unsure which pension portal applies to you, please contact your employer.

Your retirement timeline

Whether your retirement’s a long way off or just around the corner, having a clear idea of how to achieve your aims is important. Our Retirement Timeline is here to help.
See what you can do now and in the future to reach the retirement you want.

Getting to know your future self

Video transcript

Saran: Hello.

John Paul: Hello. Hi. I'm John Paul.

Saran: Hi.

John Paul: It's all right ...

Claire: I'm sitting here.

John Paul: Yeah. Happy with the hat?

Luke: Yeah. I'm happy.

Saran: Um ...

Claire: Um ...

Dewayne: Um ...

Connor: I haven't quite figured that out yet.

John Paul: I'm John Paul Flintoff. As a writer and coach, I work with people to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems like how to change the world or how to take control of your financial future.

Imagine your life when you're 70. What's it like?

Portia: 70?

Teri: That's a really hard question.

John Paul: It's quite hard to connect with your 70-year-old self, isn't it?

Lily: Really, yes.

John Paul: Research shows that we simply can't relate to our future selves. Brain scans show that most of us use one part of our brains when we think about ourselves and a different part when we think about strangers or about our future self. In other words, our future self is just like a stranger. If we don't know who they are, we're going to struggle to give them money so making provisions for retirement will be hard. If we can't relate to our future selves and our focus is on the here and now, how can we take control of our future? As with other seemingly insurmountable problems, we need to break it down and then take the first step.

How often do you think about planning for the future?

Claire: I'm good at planning for parties.

Connor: I think into the future enough to plan, but not to plan that far ahead. There's part of me that doesn’t think I'll even make it past 50.

Lily: I try to keep myself focused by setting short-term goals.

John Paul: How would you like your retirement to be?

Luke: I want to have one of those huts in Bora-Bora.

Dewayne: I'd like to have 100 billion pounds, sterling.

Connor: In my private mansion with my big garden.

Saran: This picture shows me chilling on the beach.

Claire: Big outdoors, loads of dogs, like a farmhouse kind of thing.

John Paul: What are you doing right now to make this happen?

Lily: I'll get back to you on that one.

Luke: You're not really told how to do it.

Dewayne: Honest, like I don't know. I'm too ... I don't want to say I'm too young, but I haven't thought about that sort of stuff.

John Paul: What are you not doing? What are you afraid of?

Teri: I get quite caught up in the here and now and all the things that I need to get done and it always feels busy that I put off things like that.

Osman: I just know that I can't just spend every penny I have all the time.

Claire: When you reach 30, I think you see that time is moving a lot faster than you anticipated. Yeah, you should start thinking about the future.

Saran: I've been so busy doing, seeing the bigger picture, unfocused. This has allowed me to focus a bit more, which is really good.

John Paul: Do you feel as a result of this conversation, you're more likely to save for the future?

Teri: I should start the sooner, the better really to be honest.

John Paul: Like tomorrow or ... ?

Teri: Yeah, like tomorrow.

Osman: Now I'm starting to think further. I've never thought what I'll do when I retire.

Claire: You just made me realize that I actually do really know what I want to do.

Portia: It's not massive. It's not crazy. It's very doable. It's just step by step.

Saran: My mum says how does a mouse eat an elephant and it's one bite at a time.

John Paul: How does it feel to say that?

Teri: A relief I think because like you said, it's one thing that you can do that makes it more manageable.

Dewayne: I'm not fixated on the journey, but I'm going somewhere and I feel like I need to maintain focus.

John Paul: One thing I've noticed is it makes your knees wiggle about when we talk about money.

Lily: Does it?

John Paul: Thinking about your future may be hard, but planning for it doesn't need to be.

What is a pension?

Video transcript


 What is a pension?


Pensions are plans which you can invest in and allow you to build up a sum of money, sometimes called a ‘pension pot’.

You can use this to provide yourself with an income once you’re retired or semi retired.

You may also get contributions from the government, this is called tax relief.

There are workplace pensions, paid by your employer and yourself.

There’s the state pension paid out by the government.

Or you can pay into an individual pension yourself.

The value of personal or workplace pensions are not guaranteed. You could get back less than you paid in.


State Pensions explained

Video transcript

State pensions explained


A State Pension is a regular payment you can get from the government when you reach State Pension age.

Your age, gender and National Insurance record will affect the amount you’ll get and when you will be eligible to start receiving it.

To get it, you must have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions.




Types of pension

Video transcript

Types of pension


There are three main types of pensions:

Workplace pensions are arranged through your employer.

With most schemes, both you and your employer pay in.

Your contributions will normally be deducted from your salary.

With individual pensions you pay in regularly and/or make one-off payments.

You will be entitled to a State Pension when you reach State Pension age and if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions.

The value of personal or workplace pensions are not guaranteed. You could get back less than paid in.


How much is the State Pension?

Video transcript

How much is a state pension?



Full State Pension is a set amount each year.

It’s a bit like one of our jackets, it’s not one size fits all.

It’s dependent on your age, your gender and your National Insurance record.

But the easiest way to find out what yours will be is to go to


What age can I retire?

Video transcript

What age can I retire?


There is no compulsory age to retire – you can retire as early or late as you like.

You can start to access your individual and workplace pensions from 55 years [old – omitted].

The state pension starting age varies from 63 to 68, depending on when you were born.

What is an annuity?

Video transcript

What is an annuity?


An annuity is a retirement income plan bought with your pension pot.

It’s designed to provide you a guaranteed regular income for the rest of your life.

The amount of income you’ll get for a given lump sum will depend on your age, health, lifestyle and type of annuity. 

Annuity or lump sum?

Video transcript

Annuity or Lump Sum?


When you retire, you could withdraw all your pension – however, you could receive a large tax bill.

You could purchase an annuity where the income is taxable.

Or another option is to take up to 25% of your pension as a tax-free lump sum, and to purchase an annuity with the rest.


Finally, you could leave it invested and take money as and when needed. But like these lifts, the value of pensions can go up as well as down. 

How do I claim State Pension?

Video transcript

How do I claim State Pension?


You won’t receive your State Pension automatically - you have to apply for it.

A letter should come to you four months before you reach State Pension age, telling you what to do.

If you don’t claim your state pension, it will be automatically deferred until you do, which can increase the amount you get.

I’ve just told them that!

How can I retire early?

Video transcript

How can I retire early?


If you want to retire early, you can start accessing an income from a Workplace or Individual Pension, usually from the age of 55.

You can also keep working after accessing your pension to supplement your income.

How much you’ll need when you retire depends on your outgoings, so it’s good to check to see how much you may get, ahead of time, so you have enough to live on.

Cut back and save

Feel you can't afford to save? See how much those 'little extras' cost you and what you could be saving.

Get expert advice on your plans

A financial adviser can help you make sure your money’s on track to achieve your financial goals

Tracing lost pensions

It's easy to lose track of old pensions. Start by contacting your previous employer or contact the Pensions Tracing Service.