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The age of money maturity

Our latest research uncovers the age when people finally feel good about their money

  • 31 is the age of money maturity
  • Men feel they’re good with money four years earlier than women; 29 compared to 33
  • Brits are their most financially frivolous at age 22

We’ve uncovered that 31 is the average age most Brits first feel in control of their money.

The nationwide research, which revealed the average age that people first start feeling good about managing their money, used a series of metrics such as, saving account levels, owning a pension, and credit card spending. Our research found the average age was 31, although it was lower for men who felt they reached a state of financial security at the age of 29, compared to 33 for women.

Nearly two thirds (66 per cent) of Brits believe that regularly paying into a savings account is the top indicator of being good with money, followed by having a pension plan (55 per cent) and always shopping around for the best deals on any purchases they make (53 per cent). 

Nearly half (49 per cent) identify not being overdrawn as another sign of having a grasp on their finances. However, our research also showed that it’s often the smaller things that can indicate financial savviness with, 31 per cent thinking that bringing a packed lunch into the office is a sign of good money management. A further 13 per cent suggest that avoiding ‘rounds’ in the pub when out drinking is a also a sign of being smart with cash.

Fortunately, for those nearing the age of Money Maturity (31), many respondents over the age of 35 say that excess spending is reduced by circumstances that come with age. More than half of people over 35 (57 per cent) admit they’re much more likely to want to spend an evening at home than when they were in their twenties, and the same number (57 per cent) say that when they do go out, they spend less money now they are older. A further 19 per cent said that they were able to start saving in their mid to late 30s as they had fewer weekends, stag dos, hen dos or weddings to pay for.

For those under 30 still working towards feeling in control of their money, there is a clear split between age groups. 21 to 25 year olds believed 32 would be the age they finally felt good about their finances, while those aged 26-30 were less optimistic, believing 38 would be the magic number. 

The survey also revealed that 22 is the age that Brits are the most irresponsible with their cash. At this age, respondents said they splashed more on unnecessary items (63 per cent), spent too much on nights out (54 per cent) and bought too many clothes (42 per cent).

Social media is also cited as a key factor in encouraging irresponsible spending, with almost half (47 per cent) of young adults aged 16-20 agreeing. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of all respondents believed that the idea of ‘keeping up with the joneses’ is now more prevalent online via social media than amongst the traditional competitiveness between neighbours and friends.

The most common things causing people to go over budget in order to impress on social media were holidays (31 per cent), fashion (24 per cent), accessories such as handbags and watches (16 per cent) and cars (15 per cent). The poll also found that age doesn’t necessarily protect from the power of social media, as despite claiming to be good with money, those aged 41-45 were most likely to go over budget in order to appear better off than they really are on their social channels (41 per cent).

A key driver of overspending encouraged by social media comes from the impact of celebrities, with £6bn a year spent by Brits in a bid to replicate the lifestyle they envy. *

When it comes to financial insecurity, Brits attribute having a low salary (37 per cent) as the top contributing factor, closely followed by rising utility bills (36 per cent) and not being able to put money into savings (32 per cent).  However, for some, lifestyle plays a key role. 21 per cent admit they go out for drinks too often and 19 per cent said they treat themselves to one too many takeaways.

Clare Gambardella, Zopa’s Chief Customer Officer, commented: “We’re pleased to see that most Brits feel good about managing their money at the relatively young age of 31. At Zopa, our mission is to provide easy to manage products and a straightforward online experience so that customers feel positive and in control of their financial situation.”

Zopa has created a list of tips for people to feel good about their money at any age:

  1. Prioritise – if there is a debt that makes you feel uncomfortable, then prioritise paying that off before you think about saving towards a new goal
  2. Budget monthly – many outgoings such as bills, rent or mortgage payments are monthly. Check how this compares to your earnings and therefore what you can afford to spend on the more “fun” purchases. Create a rough monthly budget
  3. Borrow – there is a stigma around loans and credit cards but if well managed, they will enable people to achieve personal goals, plus also help build a history of borrowing money which can increase your eligibility for other lending products such as mortgages
  4. Consolidate – managing debt can be overwhelming. Consolidating debts means reducing the number of payments each month and can mean getting a better deal overall. Not-for-profit organisations such as Stepchange and Payplan can offer free debt advice too
  5. Ignore social media – in an age that people share a lot of their lives on social media, it can be easy to be tempted to ‘keep up with the social joneses’. Remember your own circumstances and live accordingly, regardless of social media


Top ten signs you’re good with money in the modern age

  1. You have a savings account that you regularly pay into (66%)
  2. You have a pension plan (55%)
  3. You shop around for the best deals (53%)
  4. You are never in your overdraft (49%)
  5. You pay off your credit card bills monthly (45%)
  6. You use loyalty cards (45%)
  7. You have a “rainy day” fund (40%)
  8. You know the EXACT balance of your account at all times (40%)
  9. You don’t lend cash to friends if you’re not likely to get it back (37%)
  10. You prepare lunch to take to the office (37%)

Research of 1,500 UK adults, conducted by Ginger Comms 12.09.19 – 16.09.19

*Research amongst 2,000 UK adults, conducted in February 2019 for Zopa by OnePoll.