Yes young people are in debt – but it’s not our fault

Yes young people are in debt – but it’s not our fault

The head of Britain’s financial regulator has warned that young people are facing crippling debt to cover basic living costs.

This may have been shocking news to some. But for those of us in the millenial generation? All we can say is “no shit”.

The ‘grown-ups’ might mutter that young people don’t know how to manage money; that if we spent less on avocado on toast we’d be able to get our act together. But as studies are showing time and time again, it’s not us: it’s the economy.

Our savings are ransacked long before we’ve even had a chance to build them up. The cost of student accommodation is astronomical, and those living outwith Scotland have eye-watering fees to pay each year for the privilege of having a degree.

Almost all my course mates (and we did have the good fortune to be born into the Scottish education system) had part-time, or even full-time jobs just to get by. Many never made it out of their overdrafts, and several did take out a dreaded payday loan, a financial burden no twenty-year-old should be undertaking.

Yet we accept this debt, on the proviso that it will only be temporary. We work hard and get the grades because having a degree to your name brings the promise of well-paying work.

Except it doesn’t. Graduate jobs are few and far between, and even the lowliest professional position requires screeds of experience. We work for free, we do internships, and we work two jobs to fund our hope of a better future.

And if we’re lucky? Like, really lucky? We’ll land a job paying £20k. Only if you live in London though. (And the crippling living costs of London is a blog post all of it’s own!)

But we’re not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. While our grandparents may have been able to squirrel away big chunks of their salary to buy their £2,000 house, young people are spending half (or even more) of their salary on the rent of a house share. What’s left is swiftly swallowed up by substantial travel costs and ever-rising food bills.

‘But what about all those holidays?’ the oldies argue. ‘Why are we spending all that money when we could be saving?’ The truth? It’s not even worth it, mate.

Putting money into a savings account in the 1980s could easily provide you with a 10% return. These days, we’ll be lucky to get an extra 0.25% of what we put away. Don’t say we aren’t working for our money: our money isn’t working for us.

So yes. Young people have debts. We’d love to pay our way, really we would. But until rent caps are put in place, our work is valued by employers, and wages are brought in line with true inflation costs then we just don’t have a choice.

11 Comments

  1. Ellie
    October 19, 2017 / 6:15 am

    I love this! As someone who got out of university and barely managed to stay out of my overdraft, people need to accept that finance isn’t as easy anymore!

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      October 19, 2017 / 7:10 am

      Thank you! It really is a nightmare at times.

  2. October 19, 2017 / 9:00 am

    Yes yes yes! 30 years ago, my parents bought a house for AUD60k when my dad was earning AUD30k – they sold that same house 15 years later for AUD400k!
    The economy, inflation, and the expectations older generations have on us are all ridiculous.
    Plus, avocado toast and holidays make for a much more enjoyable life, than the crippling debt of a mortgage several times that of our salaries.

  3. October 19, 2017 / 10:12 am

    Thank you for writing this. I often feel quite anxious about money because I just can’t see how I’ll be able to afford a life like the one I’ve grown up in! I worked part time through uni and full time over the summers. I’m still in Scotland because I’m completing my NQT year but almost everyone else I know from uni (including my boyfriend) has moved to London to work. It is a whole generation problem and I’m not sure that it’s going to get much better for us!
    Lisa x

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      October 20, 2017 / 8:00 am

      It’s so terrible that money anxiety is the norm with our generation. I’d like to think it will all be worth it in the end but I’m struggling to see any proof that it will! x

  4. October 19, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Hear hear. I have a house, but it was only thanks to a pretty miraculous combination of circumstances. I’m 35, and am just starting to get on a stable financial footing thanks to a combination of too-easy access to credit in my student days, redundancy and a bad habit of living outside of my means. Don’t get me started on long-term saving (or lack of!).

    Lis / last year’s girl x

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      October 20, 2017 / 8:04 am

      Ugh, not being able to save drives me crazy! It’s encouraging (I think!) that someone has come through it. What annoys me the most is that lots of people I know aren’t bad with money, it’s just impossible to be ‘good’ with it 🙁

  5. October 19, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    As as 52 year old I feel so sorry for your generation. You have things much tougher than we did.

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      October 20, 2017 / 8:04 am

      Thank you! It does often seem that older people think ‘well you’re just not saving hard enough’ so I’m glad you understand.

  6. October 24, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Yes, yes, yes, YES!!! I’m in university right now and on top of my student loan I have to work full time to be able to be able to get by… and I live in one of the “cheaper” districts of Glasgow (hmmm). In the past 5 days, I have worked 40 HOURS, and that’s not including all the time and effort I’ve had to put into all my uni assignments. But I’m still not out of my overdraft, and that is NOT because I am lazy, or because I spend too much money. I’ve not been on holiday in a year and a half, and my last meal was a chicken curry which I somehow made last for three days. I am SO glad that you’ve written this post to shine a light on this problem and be this generations voice!!

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      October 24, 2017 / 10:38 am

      Thanks Sara! It’s such a shitty situation for young people to be in, and it’s always really riled me when people assume it’s through laziness and poor money management that we’re in this situation. I’m sorry you are having such a tough time but I think it’s important we keep sharing our stories so people understand how widespread this issue is x

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