Is your money as grown-up as you?

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 24th Jan 2017

Do you feel like a grown-up yet?

It is legal to have sex at 16, drive a car at 17 and vote at 18. But we don’t actually feel grown-up until 33, according to research from One Family, the mutual.

33!!! When I was younger I thought that, by the age of 33 I would be married, have two school-aged kids, and have the perfect career, house, family and holidays.

How reality bites. In the year I turn 40, I’ve only just started properly adult-ing. I am married (happily seven years this year), and I do have two kids – except one has just turned three, is certainly not at school and is still in nappies. I am lucky enough to have a fantastic (if old and rather money-hungry) house and I am very lucky to be able to enjoy an incredible holiday every year. I also have two jobs (three if you count being a mum), none of which is really the role I spent my 20s and 30s building my career in.

Grown-up by name. By nature? Not so much

Being a grown-up, it seems, is a state of mind. Despite all of our grown-up responsibilities, the research found that many of us never really inhabit the role: 34 per cent of us never get to feel “grown-up” at all.

Weirdly, more 19-25 year olds (54 per cent) feel grown-up compared to 41-50 year olds (47 per cent). And one in 10 (11 per cent) 81-90 year olds said they aren’t grown-up yet. Perhaps, the older we get, the more we realise that being a real grown-up doesn’t mean you have to feel like one.

Karl Elliott, marketing director at One Family, said: “When we are young, everyone over the age of 18 appears to be a grown-up. But as we get older, and some say wiser, this perception generally fades as we start to understand what being an adult actually means.”

As a result of economic circumstances, though, some people of grown-up age are having to get back in touch with their inner child as, unable to afford their first home, they find themselves heading back to the family home to live with their parents.

Are you a boomerang-er?

First Direct has launched a project called Boomerang Britain, examining the positives for around a quarter of people aged 20-34 who still live with their parents, usually because the cost of housing has prevented them getting on the ladder.

These people, technically “grown-ups”, often saddled with huge debts from university, can feel like they are living in a state of perpetual teendom, while they save. The average age of a first-time buyer, by the way, is 37. There are psychological and social consequences to the unaffordability of house prices. Boomeranging has clear advantages over renting, for those for whom it makes sense to move back in with the folks.

There are steps you can take to apply a more grown-up approach to your finances, even if you are still living at home.

  1. Choose your own bank account. Just because you’re still living with your parents doesn’t mean you have to settle for the bank they chose for you when you were a child. If you are working, use your salary as a chance to inject a little bit of independence in your choice of financial provider. You may not be the die-hard fossil fuels or fracking advocate your parents are, and consequently may not want to bank with a company that funds these activities. Read our blogs on the subject or look at the Move Your Money or BankTrack sites to find a bank that better suits your values.
  2. Start saving. Break free! Yes, it may feel like it’s going to take forever, but hey, it’s worth setting aside as much as you can afford each month. And choose an account (or fund if you decide to start investing) you like the sound of, not simply the one that gave you the student railcard. You’ll find more info on savings accounts that can help you be good with money here. Or read our how to save this year post for more ideas. Want to skip ahead and invest? Nutmeg and Moneyfarm make it easy for beginners.

  3. But we like the Positive Impact Portfolio from EQ Investors for its goodness best.
  4. Look at your overdraft. It could be sucking up more than you think and there are other ways to rein in your spending or budget. Read this recent post on how to budget.
  5. Make use of all the tech at your disposal. Want to really impress your Dad? Tell him you’ve just signed up to the Moneybox app which rounds up all your debit card spending and sets aside the money into a stock market ISA, helping you invest without even thinking about it.
  6. Speak to a mortgage adviser so you can plan for the future when the time comes you are able to get your feet on the first rung of the housing ladder. Any savings you’re able to make into the new Help To Buy ISAs benefit from a 25 per cent top up from the Government, up to a maximum of £3,000 a year – as long as you don’t withdraw the money out for other purposes. Good With Money readers can get 50% off fees from Trinity Financial if you email
  7. Think about the future. Scary? Yes. Essential? Yes. Costly? Doesn’t have to be. The younger you are when you start saving, the less you have to set aside each month to get a decent pot in the end. If you are employed then your employer should have enrolled you in a pension scheme. Even the minimum contribution in the first year of 0.8 per cent saved up over 40 years could make a huge difference.
  8. Alternatively look at other long-term savings schemes such as the Lifetime ISA. With annual savings capped at £4,000, you can use a Lifetime ISA to save for a property deposit, OR to keep until you retire. If you do this, you stand to benefit from a nice additional 25 per cent government top-up. If you are under 40 and use a Lifetime ISA sensibly for the stated purpose – i.e. not at the expense of your pension, then it is a great thing to get you into the savings habit.
  9. Download our FREE guide to Hipster Money!

Jayne Raisborough, Professor of Media at Leeds Beckett University, added: “The biggest fear we have is that we are written off as we get older. We fear that we will become  invisible and worthless. To be old is to have lived. We have experienced and survived the rich joys and deep sorrows that make up all of our lives, how dare anyone take that away from us! Don’t be written off!”

You can see the nation’s thoughts on what it means to be a grown-up here in this video

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