In association with Experian's United for Financial Health programme

It's tough being young and broke. But help is out there

Young people are being hit hard by low pay, insecure jobs and debt. But there's hope. Here are our top tips and where to find the best advice.

With low pay, insecure jobs and debt younger people are being hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. Image: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Association from Experian's United for Financial Health programme

Low pay, insecure jobs and debt mean young people are being hard hit by the UK’s financial crisis. In January this year a major survey revealed that 47 per cent of under-24s were classed as “financially precarious” – unable or only just able to make ends meet.

Talking to over 1,000 people aged 16 to 24, the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) found that by the time they turn 22, 75 per cent will be in debt. Less than half (41 per cent) believe they will ever own a home, while 49 per cent feel they’ll never be able to afford to have a family.

Carried out between September and October last year, this was before the reality of 2022’s cost of living crisis had started to unfold. So as part of The Big Issue Talks Money series supported by Experian’s United for Financial Health programme, we wanted to find out what young people’s money worries are and how to deal with them.

With inflation at a 30-year high young adults are particularly vulnerable, and three in 10 young people worry about money.

A recent survey found three in 10 young people worry about having enough money over a typical month. With inflation at a 30-year high and energy costs soaring, young adults who are unemployed or in part-time work or on low pay are particularly vulnerable. 

Zoya, age 16, had been struggling to make ends meet, and says many young people are being forced to make a ‘heat or eat’ choice. Her experience isn’t unique either, with a recent survey showing that three in ten (30 per cent) young people are worried about having enough money during a typical month, before taking into account the rising cost of everyday life. 

Talking about money can still feel like a taboo: research by the Money & Pensions Service showed only 51 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK feel confident about handling money. And increasingly young people are turning to the internet for tips.

I tried discussing my issues, but there was a lack of support in my community and secondary school.

“Those who I tried discussing my issues with in the past were not very sympathetic,” says Zoya. “There was a lack of support in my community and secondary school”. 

Unfortunately, Zoya isn’t alone and millions of young people are struggling to access the information they need about things like low pay, bills, debt, benefits and managing money, both within the structures of school and at home with family. So what help is out there?

The Mix is open to helping – they are aware that finances can be so detrimental to mental health.

Zoya found support when she discovered The Mix, a youth charity focused on providing services for people under 25. The Mix helps them navigate the challenges that life throws at them, from mental health through to money and beyond. 

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Zoya says: “The Mix is so open to helping young people on multiple important issues because they are aware that finances can be so detrimental to mental health.” 

The Big Issue will be hosting a live Q&A session on Facebook for anyone looking for advice on money worries and how to tackle them.

Although some factors in the cost of living crisis like low pay and spiralling energy costs are out of our hands, there are steps everyone can take. Here are our top tips.

Set a budget: Budgeting is key to keeping you on track. The aim is to know how much money you need to set aside for bills and expenses. Once you have a clear idea of expenses, you know how much money you have left to allocate to other areas of your life. You can look for ways to streamline spending and make your money go as far as possible.

Check your basket: A great place to start is food shopping as it’s often where we spend more than necessary. The cost can easily spiral, so thinking ahead about your meals and writing down a shopping list gives you a better chance of sticking to your budget. Shop around for the best deals and look for discounts or offers.

Get a budgeting buddy: If you find it tricky to stick to a budget, try pairing up with a friend or family member. Set aside 10 minutes each week to check in with each other, track your spending and share your money saving tricks.

Learn good habits – join The Big Issue’s Couch to £1k course: For all of us, learning about money can feel daunting. And it’s not always easy to find financial education delivered in a simple, accessible manner.

That’s why The Big Issue has teamed up with financial gurus Best Intentions to bring exclusive free access to the Couch to £1k online savings kickstarter course. Couch to £1k is designed to help people build financial security.

Take the first step towards building lifelong good money habits, and possibly even save £1,000 you never knew you had.

Free places on this short online course, broken down into easy to manage bite-sized modules, are available to Big Issue readers until the end of March.

And we will be hosting an online live Q&A session with money experts for anybody who has worries, fears, questions or interested in how they can improve their finances on March 28.

Follow us at facebook.com/bigissueuk to find out more and sign up now for free access to the full course at: bit.ly/bigissuecouchto1k

FOR MORE HELP, TIPS AND ADVICE…

The Mix – money advice and budgeting tools for under-25s: themix.org.uk/money

National Literacy’s Words That Count campaign – set up to help young people understand how money impacts their lives and how to get on top of it: wordsthatcount.org.uk

MoneyHelper (from the UK government’s Money & Pension Service) – a step-by-step guide on things like setting a budget and debt advice: moneyhelper.org.uk

National Numeracy – here you’ll find lots of online tools to build up money skills: nationalnumeracy.org.uk/managing-money

StepChange – get advice for dealing with debt, including the government’s Breathing Space debt respite scheme: stepchange.org

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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