The Twenty-Something Overdraft Club.

Twenty something’s are free spirits, with almost nothing being off limits in conversation. All, except the final taboo – money. Most would rather tell a stranger their bra size than their bank balance, but does this secrecy lead to a generation of cash-conscious young adults? Chapter W co-founder Louisa investigates…

The app I try to ignore the most is Santander. I actively go out of my way to forget it’s there, moving it into random folders to try and shut out its existence. When I do force myself to look at those dreaded numbers, like a sinner on a scale, I do so with my eyes half shut, praying that it’s not as bad as I think.

Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the experience of an esteemed member of the Overdraft Club.

The overdraft is like a bitchy best friend. There for you in times of hunger, stress, real issues (ie. you’ve run out of foundation + couldn’t bare to go back to Collection 2000 after you’ve tasted Charlotte Tilbury), but always ready to pull the carpet from beneath your feet when it gets its chance.

The Overdraft was a real good pal of mine whilst at university. That interest free comfort blanket that helped me live, and boy did I love extending it. I thought, naively, that as soon as I left uni and fell straight into my cushty little £35k journalism job in the Big City, we would bid a fond farewell to one another, and I would look back with a carefree smile at those impoverished student days.

Well, we all know that didn’t happen.

The twenty-something generation were dealt a pretty raw deal when it comes to cash. We faced ridiculous student loans, increased living rates, less jobs, and the fact we have a whole host of new things to pay for. Laptops, mobile phones, iPads, 3G, 4G, contactless tube passes, car insurance….the list goes on and on, and that’s before you’ve even had a chance to contemplate buying yourself a treat with your well earned pay cheque.

Young adults incomes are now stated to be ‘20% below average’, with unpaid internships and entry level roles well and truly sinking the once hopeful ships of the generation. Our childhood dreams of being 25 with our own house, a big white wedding and a flash car shattered around us, as reports state we are ‘missing key markers of adulthood due to the cash crisis’, leaving us in a very different situation to our parents before us.

We live in a world of excess. Where more is more, and we have to have everything now. Instagram tells us what we need to buy, Twitter links us to where we get it, and Facebook allows us to post the evidence. Fast fashion races around our heads, as we are told to buy expensive trainers endorsed by the stars, and technology moves so quickly that before we’ve even updated to ios10 there’s an ios15. People look at you in amazement if you don’t own an Apple product, ignoring their steep prices, and the cost of living healthily is ten times more expensive than the cost of a Big Mac burger. 

We burn our contactless card, bypassing PIN numbers to ease the guilt of spending £15 on an avocado bagel for lunch, we tap tap tap away our cash with no thought of the numbers dwindling behind every beep. We kid ourselves that it’s fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine. When really, late at night, we log into that app and quietly weep as we curse ourselves for spending £25 on Mojitos in a bar we couldn’t afford.

But pause. 

Why are we all so privately ashamed?

As social media pushes us to only exhibit the highlights of our lives, we forget that the people around us also have the same issues as us. Who are we all kidding? Do we really think that our friends are multi millionaires and we just forgot to enter the lottery that day? Of course, there are some lucky sods who are either VERY good with their pennies or have a very generous family, but for the majority – money matters. 

More people than you think are members of the overdraft club, the same ones you always think are doing better than you. They dip in and out of savings left to them by a relative, merely to stay afloat. We all have jobs, careers, roles that mean something, salaries that aren’t to be sneered at – but you must remember, life is not free. We cannot rely on our winning personalities to pay our rent (landlords would go out of business as we’re all fab), and reality costs money.

Damning reports say that millenials (GROSS) are clueless about money….splurging on travel and fashion arrogantly. We are sneered at as we spend our money on ‘experiences’, choosing to explore and enjoy the world we live in rather than root ourselves in bricks and mortar. Older generations are left baffled at our refusal to stay in one place, settle down, stick to the status quo (if you’re not singing High School Musical right now you’re lying), and follow in their footsteps.

But their footsteps led us down a different path.

We work 24 hour jobs, a buzz of digital screens and emails always at the back of our minds. We work hard for our money, we pay our taxes, we pay our rent. So what if we spend money on a dress that makes us feel amazing, and leads to the best night out we’ve ever had? So what if we book flights for a European city break, exploring a culture that soon may not be so accessible to us? And so what if we are in the minus at the end of the month?

We earn our money to spend our money, and it is ours to waste. However irrational it may seem. We are without responsibility for the most part, and it will be the only time we can spend the way we want. Selfishly, irrationally, and sometimes idiotically – but isn’t that what being young is about?

Of course, debt is a problem that can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. If you do find yourself stacked against it with credit card debt and overdraft woes, then sticking your head in the sand is the worst thing to do. We need to embody a culture of conversation around money, not making it such a tainted subject that is hushed as quickly as it is bought up. It is not shameful to overindulge and require help. It is not embarrassing to admit that you may have gone overboard. It’s an expensive and alluring world, and we can are only human beings. It can be hard to say no. But it’s important to encourage conversation about the money topic to raise a new generation of cash savvy people, who can cope with the pressures of modern life in line with what they can realistically afford.

My conclusion is simple – if you are in your overdraft, please do not panic. Please do not cry at night. And please do not ignore it. Money matters, it is true, but being a couple of hundred in the red at the end of the month will not completely ruin your life. Your life is there to be lived, to be shown off, to be enjoyed, which is where the paper + pennies come in. Mix your irrational creativity with a slither of sensibility, and your finances will thank you whilst you continue having the time of your life.

Work hard, get the pay cheque, and do something you love every month. Members of the Overdraft Club will understand.

But if you love buying diamonds, caviar and Bentleys, maybe learn to become a savvy saver.

Louisa Davies

 

 

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