As a 16-year-old, the prospect of personally managing my finances – although bewildering – is a step towards the coveted freedom adulthood provides. Having made the choice to stay in full-time education, the bulk of my personal finance flows in as wages for part-time waitressing on the weekends which then funds going out with friends. Any money I do save is intended to pay for near-future expenditure, with festival tickets and a car currently topping the wishlist.
However, the reality of saving enough is uncertain – I will soon be giving up the part-time job and the financial independence that comes with it to dedicate more time to schoolwork. Immense pressure to get the top results in school exams leaves little leeway in balancing exam preparation and work, so it is not untypical for students to face the choice between achieving the very top grades and being committed to a job. The notorious “grade inflation” is one of the aspects that contributes towards the gap between this generation and the last, leading to less interaction with money in teenage years.
This does not necessarily mean that people of my age are entirely ignorant towards money. Growing up in an age of technological dependency, it is fair to say that no one will find the future of electronic personal finance more accessible than my generation. We embrace constantly morphing technology as part of our everyday lives so we should be adaptable to constant changes made in the world of personal finance and be comfortable with the increasingly virtual concept of ‘electronic’ money.
Schools don’t entirely neglect to equip us for managing money however. Introductions to different types of banking accounts and financial jargon are gained from standard personal finance sessions, but there seems to be a void in information given to us about the far financial future.
Obviously the most imminent financial hurdle most of us will face is a student loan. With a degree from a university becoming an increasingly integral step in our careers, students are encouraged to overlook potential financial barriers and emphasis is placed on how facilitating student loans are. The general consensus from teenagers about UK student loans is positive especially when compared internationally with other student loan systems such as the USA’s. Student finance is a topic which is often discussed on social media platforms such as Tumblr. With the wealth of information about student loans effortlessly available, the initial benefits are often triumphed, but the years of debt that follow the time we do spend in university does not yet seem to be considered a reality.
Meanwhile, while we sweep the issue of the debt we will have accumulated in university into the corner, the housing market looms ominously in the distance. As the affordability of housing for young people is an issue that gains extensive coverage in the media, the fact that we are likely to be priced out of the housing market in the future is no secret. We are told repeatedly in fact, that it is probable we will not even own our first home until we are well into middle age and in the face of all this, we are uncertain as to whether or not there is a solution.