Home Fixed interest How Gen Z is coping with the cost of living crisis

How Gen Z is coping with the cost of living crisis

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Woman checking bills

Prices are rising at rates not seen in decades – and this runaway inflation is something millions of young people have never had to deal with.

Strong demand and shortages have steadily pushed up the prices of consumer goods, food, petrol and energy, putting further pressure on households across the UK.

For Gen Z, adults between the ages of 18 and 25, this is the first time they’ve experienced significant inflation in their lifetime.

We ask this generation, whose lives and careers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, how they are affected.

“Mental Pressure and Stress”

Jessica Langton, who has to travel long distances between farms for her work in livestock breeding, told the BBC she has seen her petrol costs rise by £100 a month.

The 21-year-old – who lives in Derby – is in her final year of college, funded by a fixed interest rate tuition loan.

She fears wages have not risen in line with the cost of living, meaning a sudden bill – like a car breakdown – would be a “huge stress to cover”.

“You are expected to work to live rather than the other way around and the rising costs of everything are not helping young people at the moment,” she told the BBC.

“My sister is 15 and I’m worried about her fees because fixed interest loans may be harder to get back then and I think the fees should have been reduced during the pandemic,” a- she added.

Due to higher food and drink costs, Ms Langton said she and her friends have reduced restaurant and pub visits.

“Inflation has added a lot of mental strain and stress,” she said.

“A lot of my friends are on minimum wage and really struggling because it’s way behind inflation.”

“It’s so hard to save”

Alfie Kearns, from Liverpool, told the BBC he believed inflation was making it harder to save money to be able to leave his family home.

“The energy and gas bills and everything went up,” he said. “Especially with the winter period, there are definitely increases anyway, but this [rising costs] is just the icing on the cake.”

“A big thing for me right now is I want to move, I want my own house and that’s the next step for me and that’s just not possible in the current climate,” he said.

“It’s so hard to save as it is. If you want more affordable housing you have to go through different kinds of systems with the council where the demand is just exorbitant and extreme so you’d be waiting forever.”

The 24-year-old was on Universal Credit at the start of 2021 before finding a job through the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Now Alfie helps others find work at I Am Moore, an organization that helps young people build careers. Alfie said he’s met a lot of recent graduates at his new job. He said they had “talent and ambition”, but were unable to find work.

“The younger generation should be motivated and supported into adulthood, but instead we are kind of sabotaged by rising costs,” he added.

“It’s like running a marathon with no finish line in sight.”

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‘Is it going to end or is it here to stay?’

For Adam Mlamali, a stock trader, inflation is something he “constantly” studies to monitor and make decisions about his investments.

The 20-year-old, who moved to Birmingham from London to buy his first property, said a capital-based food delivery service in which he had made a significant investment was experiencing rising operating costs .

“One of the alarming risks facing the business is that due to inflation across the food delivery industry, drivers are being paid 15% more per hour, resulting in an increase in costs potentially affecting our returns,” he added.

“At the moment there is a big discussion with some investors and investment funds about whether inflation is transitory? Is it just a period that is going to end? Or is it really here to stay?”

Adam said some investment vehicles “don’t really perform well now” as they have in recent years due to rising costs.

“You need to be realistic about budgeting, spending, saving, and even potential investment,” he said.

‘You just didn’t learn it’

Aimee Cashmore, a public relations consultant who lives in London, hasn’t experienced “a particular pinch” on awards compared to when she graduated.

“Obviously the cost of living is particularly high for young people and students. If you go to college and then you get out of college in the real world and move out, you’re usually riddled with debts,” the 23-year-old said.

Amiee said more lessons on economics and finance in schools would help young people understand rising costs and budgeting more effectively.

Through her work in the tech industry, she noticed influencers on social media platforms sharing financial advice, which she said if “approved” could make the information more accessible to young people.

“You don’t really learn about pensions or mortgages or anything like that,” she said. “I’m 23 and I’m only beginning to understand all of this because you just haven’t learned it.”