/ Money, Parenting

Should young people lower their expectations?

Young person in debt

When you’re young it’s easy to assume that, eventually, you’ll get a job and earn good money. But new research has found that instead, high debt and reliance on parents is becoming the new ‘normal’.

When I was at school, I thought it was a given that I’d eventually leave education and get a job so I could buy a car, a house, and all those other grown-up things my parents had.

However, new research from The Co-operative Group has found that those assumptions have become a pipe-dream for many. More than four out of five 18 to 30-year-olds still receive financial support from their parents.

Falling short of independence

Apparently student loans, credit cards, loans and overdrafts are the main sources of debt for this group, but I can’t say I’m surprised. In the Which? Spending Power Index, we found that young people have been the worst hit and have seen the greatest decline in their spending power, mainly due to increasing housing costs including rent and bills.

I have to admit that, when I was young, I didn’t have a clear concept of what a good salary was, so my goals may have been more modest. I still know many people who use their age as a benchmark – for example, they’d like to be earning £30,000 by the time they’re 30.

But the study revealed 18 to 30 year olds are actually earning £7,000 a year less than they thought they would be, in relation to their age and education. On top of this, two-fifths of those people said they were dissatisfied with their lives, believing they should have achieved more.

Are young people aiming too high?

So, we have a group of young people saddled with debt, generally dissatisfied with life and struggling to gain their independence.

And I can certainly sympathise – I’ve had to take the odd loan from the bank of mum and dad myself. I also have a number of friends close to thirty who still live with their parents, because they can’t afford to move out.

One friend has found it almost impossible to get a job with a salary above £16,000, despite earning her degree more than seven years ago. She’d always planned to be running her own business by 30, but has yet to start paying off her university debt.

It doesn’t sound like an ideal situation for parents or their adult children. But should the younger generation have to re-evaluate their expectations? When you left school, how did you think your life would pan out? Has reality matched your plans so far?


In my experience a good way of earning depends on one of three things – luck, natural talent or hard work. Most of us will fall into the latter, and if we do work hard in education we stand a better chance than others of progressing. Oh, and one extra attribute is needed – a good attitude towards work, no good moaning about your job – no one wants to know – just get on with it. Basically you must have something useful to offer an employer or your customers. The world does not owe you a living.
What many do seem to have these days is over-optimistic expectations to own material possessions at too early an age.
I wonder what Which would suggest as an alternative to the way the real world is?

In my experience all three of those are needed, luck, talent and hard work.
It seems by the thumb down at least one person out there does think the world owes them a living.

The poor things can still afford their expensive smart phones, fancy cars, pay TV packages, Starbucks and meals out, as and when they like, so I am not shedding any tears on their financial situation. Are the ones still living with parents paying any money to their parents and are they saving towards a deposit on their own home. When I was 28 and renting a flat, I decided to give up smoking to enable me to save up quicker for a deposit for a house. I managed to buy before I was 30 and weathered the ups of the interest rates for a good few years and at one time was paying 17% interest. I had to juggle my bills to decide which one I paid first and often waited for the red reminder before I paid.

Pretty much my story too. In my case I guess I was lucky in that I was supporting my mother who had a subsidised council house.
I too had to pay that 17% interest rate, some of the time out of work also.
The bit that got me was ” One friend has found it almost impossible to get a job with a salary above £16,000, ” Geesh, what hardship!!
But then, life ought to be better now, but face up to the fact the world had been living in an expansion bubble that could only explode with dire consequences. I spent the last years of the millenium clearing debt and consolidating my assets as this crash was the most predictable and obvious of all of them. It still has a long, long way to go.

The parents allowing their grown up children to continue living at home should charge them the equivalent of a bedsit rent and save the money until the children are ready to leave home and put a deposit on a flat. They should then present them with the saved cash to help with solicitors and land registry fees. You are not doing your little darlings any favours by allowing them to live at home, without paying a penny.

Perhaps the under £16k job would lead to many future promotion opportunities and a salary of £30k. I think half the young people in the country plan to run their own business, but most will end up with ordinary salaried jobs, if they are lucky.