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Has Anyone Seen My Twenties?

Premature aging is spreading across the UK and is particularly prevalent amongst recent graduates in the UK who, upon leaving university, are plunged straight into fears about the property ladder, pensions and paying off their student debts. These young people graduate at the age of 21, do not pass go and head straight to 35, worrying about their personal finance investments before finding their feet in life.

These un-twentysomethings lifestyles can generally categorised within two extremes, either not going out at all because they have no money or going out and partying every Friday and Saturday night, because they feel directionless. Groups such as these may not seem particularly worrying, but many graduates are finding that they are working themselves to the bone by taking on two jobs and working seven days a week just to meet their bills. Some young graduates are known to even take on multiple jobs so they can bolster up their salary details for mortgage applications. By doing so, they commit themselves to a loan that can only be repaid through exhaustion.

These characteristics have been assigned to the emergence of the quarter-life crisis, but this epidemic of financial concern tends to be a problem for those who have been through higher education, rather than those who took full time employment straight after leaving school. This represents a worrying trend given the government encouragement for increased school leavers to attend university.

UK graduates find it particularly tough as they are often groomed to believe that they can get good salaries and corporate jobs. Yet many young people leave university only to be hit by the hard reality that the competition is immense and that expectations must be lowered. Some graduates, unable to find work immediately after graduation, get themselves into further debt by taking out career development loans and other forms of commercial borrowing to undertake a further qualification.

Due to the volume of UK graduates on the market, the need to stand out has made life much more competitive. Contacts, professional qualifications, Masters degrees and relevant work experience are now required to help secure a "graduate" career.

Moneynet (, a consumer finance website, released a recent report stating that graduates need to check their credit histories when they finish their courses. Richard Brown, the CEO of moneynet warned that graduates could face a credit history nightmare at the end of university due to relocation, late payments and low credit. Moneynet has taken steps to provide publications which can help students and their families finance higher education, but the sheer scale of the student market now dictates that financial problems go beyond a lack of financial planning.

According to Credit Action, a third of prospective students underestimate the cost of university, with 25% of freshers expecting their parents to foot the bill. Both parents and students apparently underestimate the true costs of university 'parents by almost '4,000 and students by over '6,000. A quarter of parents state that they still have adult children living at home and over 14% of parents with adult children have remortgaged their homes or taken out loans to help their children out of the financial quagmire. Student debts and difficulties getting onto the first rung of the housing ladder are given as the main reasons for offspring being unable to leave home. First-time buyers are being required to save harder and for longer to secure their first home, in spite of a supposedly cooling housing market.

It also seems that parents who try to help out their offspring by giving cash to get them out of their financial struggles may be doing more harm than good according to the NatWest. The report shows that those who accepted payouts from their parents were 25% more likely to then go overdrawn in the future than those who didn't take this form of financial help. Overall a third of young people said their parents had never taught them how to manage their money. If you're a parent and concerned that your children need help with managing their pocket-money, moneynet offers a family finance guide with a few suggestions.It doesn't offer a magical solution to student debt, but it might provide some help in financial management.

About the Author
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla, a mighty personalfinanosaurus who lives in Scotland with his girlfriend Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. Contact details: Rachel Lane E-mail: Web:

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