Navigating finances as a young person

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By Tanushree Bose

Volunteer Policy and Communications Assistant


Understanding finances isn’t easy, whether you’re a student, freshly graduated or starting your first job. It can be hard to understand all the terms and concepts that come with managing your own finances. it seems like there’s so much information out there you don’t know where to start. Since graduating and joining Citizens Advice Bucks as a volunteer, I’ve slowly understood that its not as daunting as it comes across. Now approaching my mid-twenties, I’m learning the different financial tools we can use and having access to financial education courses such as the charities Money Matters course, has made it a lot easier to navigate my finances. So as someone whose still navigating my own financial journey, here’s a few key topics I wish I had a better understanding of when I first started managing my finances. And I hope that sharing them with you will help.

Navigating Budgeting

The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when it comes to finances is budgeting. Knowing how much you are spending and what you’re spending it on, planning for expenses and savings. It seems simple enough, but getting started can be a struggle. I found that gathering all my costs and setting a reasonable budget was quite difficult. Especially with all the subscriptions, cheeky takeaways and online shopping, its hard to plan for what ‘future you’ will spend money on. It was very easy to be optimistic and tell myself I’ll be consistent, update the budget regularly and cut costs. 

We all know how this story goes, the budgeting document gets lost in a sea of files and or we forget to update it to be accurate to our currant situation. So what I’ve found to be useful is making use of a budgeting app, that I can easily access on my phone. Aside from helping me budget, It also lets me customize my spending areas with categories, plan for savings and give me insights into my spending habits. Doing this alone has helped me understand a lot of areas where I can cut costs and also create smarter saving habits.

Navigating Debt

think we can all agree that of all the financial topics, talking about debt is the most daunting. The stigma surrounding debt understandably makes everyone cautious about approaching the topic. Citizens Advice has found that currently around 90% of young people feel uncomfortable talking about finances and 1 in 5 young people are facing issues with debt. That means there are a lot of us out there struggling with our finances/debt feeling like there’s no one we can turn to for help without being judged. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

During my time volunteering I’ve seen the advisers at Citizens Advice support countless people with debt and help them find a way forward. It’s made me realise the best thing we can do to start our journey on managing debt is to ask for help. Even if you feel like you’re on top of your debt there may be information, services and tools that make it easier. Sometimes you can have your debt completely written off depending on your circumstances. So it never hurts to ask for help, one of the best things you can do for yourself when it comes to debts is to know your options. The way to do that is getting advice If you aren’t comfortable talking to someone you can use online courses such as Money Matters to understand your options better. Whether its by talking to your creditors, prioritising debts or making a repayment plan.

Navigating Tax

Understanding tax and what you are responsible for can be difficult to navigate due to the different terms used. Understanding your first payslip can be difficult what with tax deductions, NI , student loan repayments (ouch!) and Income tax. It gets even more complicated if you are self employed and with so many of us having “side hustles”, it can get confusing to know when and how you should pay tax. If you have earned over £1000 through self employment you must report this by using the self assessment tool on the government website. I didn’t know this till I started volunteering! All this is thankfully covered in the Money Matters course I joined. The course helped me understand what everything meant and what I needed to do.


I’ve only covered 3 of the various financial topics that I think young people struggle to navigate but of course there is much more. There is so much we are expected to just learn and do correctly when it comes to finance, but without any real support it can leave us feeling anxious and I don’t know about you but I certainly did not learn any of this in school! But I think our greatest strength comes with our willingness to learn and adapt to find the best solutions. Its no different when it comes to navigating our finances, whether you seek advice or prefer to self-teach through online courses, don’t let stigma stop you from finding what’s best for you and your finances.

You can find the topics covered here and much more on our Money Matters course, with all the tools and information to help empower you to have a brighter financial future. Click on the button below to go to our Money Matters page.

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