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Supporting yourself financially - a guide for young adults aged 16 to 24

When you first start to support yourself financially, there are a lot of things to think about. Although it can seem complicated, in this guide we’ve listed the most important things to consider, and point you to our best guides to help you get on the right track with your money.

Start on the right track with your money

Whether you’ve just graduated, moved out or started your first job, if you can sort out the basics with your money now, then you’ll find it easier to hit those big money goals later down the line.  

Understanding pay and pensions as a young worker or apprentice

When you start a job or apprenticeship, you should check you’re receiving at least the minimum wage for your age and that you’re being taxed correctly. You should also think about saving for retirement as soon as you start earning.

Find out the National Minimum Wage for your age group. To make sure you’re being paid correctly, it’s important that you understand the payments and deductions you’ll find on your payslip. We explain them in our guide Understanding your payslip.

As an apprentice, there are different rules around pay, which we explain in our guide Apprenticeships explained.

Specific rules apply too if you’re a temp or agency worker. Read our guide Pay and benefits for temps and agency workers.

If you’re aged 22 and over, and earning over £10,000 a year, then your employer will automatically enrol you into a workplace pension. Read our guide Automatic enrolment – what to expect from your employer.

Even if you're under 22 or earn less than £10,000 a year, you might still choose to start paying into your workplace pension. There’s more information about the pros and cons of joining a pension scheme and how to do it in our guides Automatic enrolment if you’re 21 or under and Automatic enrolment if you earn £10,000 a year or less.

Paying rent and bills

Your living expenses like rent and utility bills are probably your biggest monthly costs. Although it might not be possible to shop around for energy deals at the moment, you can still follow our tips to keep on top of your bills. 

Before renting, understand how much rent can you afford and before you sign any paperwork make sure you understand any contractual terms and what you are responsible for.

It’s important not to damage your credit rating, so always seek help at the first sign of difficulty in paying rent. Our guide Help with rent arrears and problems with paying your rent can help.

Paying for household bills is a worry for many people, and it can be difficult to know when to switch or stay with your provider. Our guide How to save money on household bills gives you some tips.

Managing money and boosting your income

To keep on top of your money, your income should be able to cover your monthly living expenses. Making a weekly budget can help you get a clearer picture of the money you have coming in, and the costs you need to cover. 

Our beginner's guide to managing your money and tips for living on a budget are good places to start if you’re learning to manage your money.

Bank accounts have many different perks and terms and conditions – our guide How to choose the right bank account can help you choose the right one for your needs.

If the amount of money you have coming in changes each month, then our guide How to budget for an irregular income could be helpful.

You should think very carefully before putting any of your money into investments to boost your income, especially cryptocurrency or picking individual stocks. Read our guide first to make sure you understand the risks of investing.

Young people and benefits

If you’re looking for work or on a low income, you can check if you’re getting the right entitlements, including Universal Credit. Bear in mind that eligibility for benefits and grants may be different for 16–24 year-olds depending on your circumstances, including where you live in the UK. 

If you have a child to care for, then check if you’re claiming all the support you can in our guides Help with childcare costs and What benefits can I claim if I’m pregnant or have a baby. You can also find out more about government help with childcare costs for parents at childcarechoices.gov.ukOpens in a new window

If you’re under 18 and a young carer, you might be eligible for financial support.

If you’re aged 16 or 17 and a care leaver you may also be able to claim benefits to support you if you’re living independently.

Saving for emergencies and your future

Regularly putting money aside for your future life goals is a good habit to pick up. Even if you can only afford to save a small amount each payday, you’ll learn how rewarding it is to see your account grow. If you have savings to fall back on, you’ll be better prepared for emergencies, reducing your need to borrow money.  

Review our beginner’s guide to how to start saving. Our guide How much to save for an emergency also gives some good pointers. 

Savings accounts usually offer a small amount of interest, but there are some government-backed saving schemes that come with a much larger bonus. If you’re under 40 and looking to save for your first home, the Lifetime ISA (LISA) can give you a 25% bonus of up to £1,000 a year extra towards your deposit. Find out more in our guide to Lifetime ISAs.

If you’re on qualifying benefits, then a Help to Save account offers up to a 50% bonus on what you save for 4 years. Check if you’re eligible for an account and learn how it works in our guide Help to Save explained.

Protecting your possessions

You should consider insuring anything you own that’s important to you and you might find difficult to replace if it was lost, damaged or stolen. Shop around for the best deals, especially when you come to renew your insurance policies.

You might not have thought about getting contents insurance if you’re a renter. Our blog I'm renting my home - do I need insurance? can help you decide whether this is the best choice for you. 

For some personal possessions and gadgets, such as phones, you may want to take out itemised insurance. Our guide Do you need mobile phone insurance? can help you decide.

If you want to drive, you must take out insurance, which can be expensive. Check out the key facts on how to keep costs down in our insurance for young drivers guide.

Running a car as a young driver can be expensive, so look at our guidance to help you understand the costs.

Borrowing and using credit responsibly

Borrowing money can help you spread the cost of buying what you need over a longer period. Because you’ll usually pay interest, borrowing can be expensive. Make sure you understand the total cost of taking out credit and that you can afford the repayments.

You should first make sure if you can afford to borrow then work out how much it will cost you over the whole length of time it will take you to repay the loan, buy now pay later agreement or credit card. 

Before you arrange an overdraft with your bank or building society, read our guide Overdrafts explained.

If you’re able to join a credit union, you might be able to access a more affordable rate for borrowing. Check our guidance on borrowing from a credit union.

It’s becoming more common for shops and websites to offer Buy Now Pay Later on your purchase. Read our guide What is Buy Now Pay Later? to understand how this works and how to use this payment method responsibly.

Whenever you apply for credit and make repayments, you should always be aware of the impact this can have on your credit rating. Our guidance tells you how to check your credit report and how you can improve your credit score.

Sorting out money problems

Money problems are common, especially when dealing with rises in the cost of living, when your income is uncertain, or you’re not used to budgeting for unexpected costs. Help and guidance are freely available, so don’t be afraid to seek help as soon as you find a problem. 

If you are at risk of missing credit or bill payments, then look at our guidance on how to prioritise your debts and use our bill prioritiser tool.

Our guidance on where to find help if you're struggling with debt is also a useful starting point.

Seek free and confidential professional help straightaway if your debts are mounting up. Our debt advice locator tool enables you to find help quickly. 

Having money problems can affect your mental health. Our guide Money problems and mental wellbeing can help.

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