Social Justice

'It's awkward and stressful': Number of young people needing help with money doubles

There's a 5m-tall elephant in Manchester encouraging young people to talk about money

young people money

Young people are increasingly faced with money worries in the cost of living crisis. Image: Pexels

Around 66,000 young people approached Citizens Advice for financial support in 2023.

The charity has warned that many young adults are feeling especially squeezed by the cost of living crisis as they face a “triple whammy” of soaring living costs, rising private rents and high inflation.

The number of 18 to 24-year-olds needing help with managing their money has doubled since 2019.

Jack, a 24-year-old from Derby, has around £2,00 in debt, mostly due to late payments of utility and council tax bills. He says he is currently living “pay cheque to pay cheque”.

“My finances are not in a good position, and I feel terrible about it,” Jack said. “My debt is going down gradually, but I don’t think it’s ever going to hit zero. 

“I’d feel more comfortable talking about money if I had a clue what’s going on, but I don’t like discussing it. Even though I know that talking to people who have had similar experiences to me would probably do me the world of good, I still won’t do it, because it’s awkward and stressful.”



Nine in 10 under 25s feel uncomfortable discussing their finances. They would rather talk about health issues, politics or religion instead of money.

“I’ve actually straight-up lied to avoid talking about my financial situation,” Jack said. “I didn’t have the heart to tell my flatmate that I couldn’t afford to go halves on a rental deposit, so I talked them into a zero-deposit option, even though I knew it put us in a worse position in the long term. It made me feel like a failure.

“A massive part of the problem is the cost of living. Everyone says, ‘Make a budget plan and stick to it.’ I would, but if my bills are going up by £100 every two months, where is the extra money going to come from?”

Citizens Advice launched a stunt in Manchester on Saturday (17 February), putting a 5m-tall elephant in the city to address the ‘elephant in the room’ and encourage young people to talk about their money struggles.

It was designed by fine art student at the University of Salford India Buxton, who was commissioned by Citizens Advice after winning its competition.

The elephant is being displayed in Exchange Square, by Manchester Victoria Station. Staff and volunteers from Citizens Advice will be on the ground in the city to answer questions and give advice and support on money troubles.

Rosi Avis, partnership and communication lead at Citizens Advice Manchester, said: “All of us can struggle to find the words when it comes to talking about our finances. And we know young people are really feeling the pinch with rising costs and sky-high rents.

“At Citizens Advice we help thousands of people find a way forward every day. So whether it’s a dodgy landlord, a retailer who’s refusing to give you a refund, or help with credit card debt, we can support you. The most important first step is to speak to someone about your worries: whether it’s a family member, a mate or one of our trained advisers. We’re here to help and make you feel less alone.”

Citizens Advice has an expert guide to talking about money here.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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