Citizens Advice sees surge in young adults needing help with managing money as cost-of-living pressures pile on

Thursday, February 15, 2024

New research shows nine in ten (90%) under 25s feel uncomfortable discussing finances

"We're here to help": charity reveals the number of young people needing support with managing money has doubled since 2019

Citizens Advice places 6m-tall elephant in Manchester city centre to address the 'elephant in the room' and encourage young people to talk about their money troubles

The number of young people needing help with managing money has doubled since 2019, Citizens Advice has reported. The charity, which supported 66,000 under 25s last year alone, says one in five (20%) young adults seeking its advice need help with debt.
Citizens Advice warns many young people are feeling particularly squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis as they face a triple whammy of soaring living costs, rising private rents and high inflation. The charity is helping record numbers of people amid rising financial pressures.
Despite this, the vast majority of young adults still feel uncomfortable discussing finances. According to the charity's new research, nine in ten (90%) under 25s shy away from such conversations, and would rather talk about sensitive topics like health issues, politics or religion instead of money.
To address this 'elephant in the room', Citizens Advice has placed a giant 6-metre-tall inflatable elephant in Manchester city centre, aiming to create a talking point and encourage young adults to open up about their finances and seek support. 
The elephant is being displayed in Exchange Square, by Manchester Victoria Station, on Saturday 17 February to try to break the silence young people experience when it comes to talking about money and raise awareness of the support Citizens Advice can offer. Staff and volunteers from the charity will be on the ground in Manchester to help answer questions from the public and give advice and support on money troubles.
The elephant's colourful, money-related pattern has been designed by India Buxton, a Fine Art student at the University of Salford, who was commissioned by Citizens Advice after winning its competition. 
India, who received £500 prize money, said: "It feels fantastic to win the competition. Many young people, myself included, are in the dark about finances and don't know where to start, or who to ask for help. It can feel like an embarrassing conversation, but it's so important to do it, and hopefully this artwork will help get people talking."
In the Citizens Advice study, embarrassment was listed as the top reason why young adults feel uncomfortable discussing money, followed by the fear of comparison.
The top five reasons why young people feel uncomfortable talking about finances are:
  1. Feeling embarrassed of their financial situation (35%)
  2. Feeling worried how their finances compare to others (31%)
  3. It's too personal a topic to talk about (18%)
  4. Not wanting the other person to feel uncomfortable in the conversation (15%)
  5. Not knowing enough about finances to talk about the topic confidently (12%)
Jack, 24 from Derby, is in his first graduate job after finishing university and has around £2,000 in debt, mostly due to late payments on utility and council tax bills. He would love to pay off his debts and start saving, but is currently living "pay cheque to pay cheque", as the cost of living crisis makes it even more challenging for him to manage his money. Jack finds conversations about money difficult, but knows that avoiding the topic isn't helping his financial situation.
Jack says: "My finances are not in a good position, and I feel terrible about it. 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. 
"I've actually straight-up lied to avoid talking about my financial situation. For example, 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?
"I fully think that my financial situation has been affected by not knowing where to get good advice. If I'd just spoken to someone and explained my current situation, they might have been able to tell me what to do."
Rosi Avis, Partnership and Communication Lead at Citizens Advice Manchester, says:
"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."
To support young people to feel more comfortable discussing finances, Citizens Advice has created an expert guide here: