According to a recent survey, 31 is the average age of financial maturity for most Brits. In my experience, that sounds about right. But with a caveat that I’ll come to later.
By the time I reached that age, we were in our second home – albeit our first true family home – had one child and a reasonably paid job.
We were managing our outgoings with aplomb and even saving a bit too. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since then, however.
We’ve had two more children and, while I would never, ever change a thing, there’s no escaping the fact that they cost money. Particularly once they reach school age!
I’ve also had various jobs, a five-month spell between two of them and four years’ self-employment.
One of my reasons for getting a full-time job recently was a drop in earnings – thanks, Brexit – and it’s only since then that we’ve got back to where we were nearly nine years ago.
What I found most interesting about the research was the top ten signs of financial maturity. Here they are, along with the percentages of people who thought them important:
- You have a savings account that you regularly pay into (66%)
- You’ve got a pension plan (55%)
- You shop around for the best deals (53%)
- You’re never in your overdraft (49%)
- You pay off your credit card bills monthly (45%)
- You use loyalty cards (45%)
- You’ve got a “rainy day” fund (40%)
- You know the EXACT balance of your account at all times (40%)
- You’re not one to lend cash to friends if you’re not likely to get it back (37%)
- You prepare lunch to take to the office (37%)
After four years of pretty much living hand to mouth while self-employed, I’m finally saving again. Despite this, I still only have one year’s worth of pension contributions behind me.
This is due to unfortunate timing more than anything. When I was younger, I felt I couldn’t afford the deductions from my pay.
Once I had a well-paid job and automatic enrolment came in, I was able to afford it but became self-employed after a year and that was that.
I’ve always shopped around for the best deals and have very rarely gone overdrawn – even when my self-employed earnings plummeted. What’s more, I no longer have a credit card as I used it so rarely that bank closed my account!
I use loyalty cards whenever it’s practical and usually have a very good idea of how much is in my account. That said, I don’t have a rainy day fund. Yet.
Lending to friends has unfortunately never been in my financial reach. Finally, I have always taken packed lunch to work.
Adopting this top ten as a metric for how I’m doing, it turns out that my situation as I hurtle towards 40 is pretty similar to when I was 31!
All of this gives me seven out of ten. Seven and a half if you count the fact that I’ve literally just started saving again.
While I’d love for this to make me 31 again, I’m happy with how things are. Particularly as the last few years have been such a struggle.
So I’ve finally reached financial maturity. Again.