Football Star, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Teams Up with ‘Young Money’ Expert, Iona Bain, to Help Young Adults Get Financially Fit

60 per cent of 18 – 24-year-olds think getting physically fit and healthy is more rewarding than getting their finances in order – almost double the national average (36 per cent). To help young adults build confidence with their financial health, Experian is supporting this new campaign as part of its United for Financial Health initiative.

UK, July 19, 2022: Young people are more likely to dedicate their time and attention to their physical fitness over their finances, according to new research from Experian*. With soaring inflation disproportionately affecting young people and take home pay under pressure, there has never been a more important time for young people to focus on their finances.

Recognising the challenge, the company has united two forces – retired professional footballer Adebayo (‘Bayo’) Akinfenwa and personal finance expert Iona Bain, to help young adults get financially fit.

Openly admitting he didn’t prioritise his financial health in his early 20s, Akinfenwa is keen to help today’s young adults avoid the similar mistakes he made. Young Money broadcaster Iona Bain is also on a mission to help young people get to grips with their personal finances.

Exploring why financial fitness might take a back seat, Experian found that over half of young people (52 per cent) consider managing their financial health ‘boring’ while the same proportion believe that it’s simply easier to set and achieve fitness goals than financial ones.

Where is financial fitness falling foul?

Almost two fifths (38 per cent) of young people say they don’t know how to budget and 43 per cent say it’s hard to save. Half would struggle to cover an unexpected cost (compared the national average of 35 per cent), and they’re least likely to consider saving as a form of selfcare. 

Despite these challenges the Experian research suggests 18-24s deem money management a low priority – just eight per cent prioritise focusing on their savings in a typical week, compared to going to the gym (17 per cent), eating healthily (14 per cent) or simply taking time to ‘switch off’ (22 per cent).

Adebayo Akinfenwa, former professional footballer comments: “When I was younger, physical fitness was always my priority, but like so many, I made the mistake of ignoring my financial health until it was too late. I learnt the hard way – I found out how important it was when I was 24 and broke my leg, had no income coming in and quickly got into debt.

“I sympathise with the mindset of young people today when it comes to addressing their financial health – it can be hard to know where to start or where to turn. But – just like fitness training you can tackle it step by step, making improvements little and often will make a big difference. And remember, it’s all about balance – allow yourself to spend on the things that motivate you where possible, but plan ahead, not just for a rainy day, for a storm.”

Iona Bain, personal finance expert, adds: “It's great to see young people being so open about their physical and mental health these days, but it's important that we bust the remaining taboos around money as well. Financial health is about achieving a balance between day-to-day money management and future goals, which is so personal to an individual. It's not just about understanding facts and figures, and it's got little to do with how much you earn. It's about a determination to do what you can with what you have.

"I’d advise people to start small – it could be as simple as deciding to look at your accounts more often, or figuring out how much money you owe to creditors. You'll start getting a much clearer picture of what's going on so you can work towards being more mindful in your spending or coming up with a repayment plan. Make sure any changes to your financial behaviour are sustainable and allow for balance in life. That's how you can slowly but surely achieve a happier, healthier relationship with your finances."

Iona Bain’s 5 steps to financial fitness

  1. Start small
    • Set aside time each week to go over your bills, budget and spending habits. People tend to only deal with problems when something urgent comes up, but it’s often too late at this point
    • Don’t expect a transformation overnight. Instead, make time for your finances little and often in the same way you might carve out time to go for a walk or go to the gym
  1. Think of budgeting as “paying yourself first”
    • Budgeting is often seen as dry, complicated and time-consuming, but if you can change your state of mind it becomes as simple as knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out of your bank account
    • Many banks also offer automatic budgeting tools to make it even less complicated, so search for a tool which suits you
  1. Borrow smartly
    • Borrowing is sometimes necessary and is not something to be scared of, if done properly
    • If you do need to borrow, it’s vital to have built up your credit score, as a good score means you’ll have better access to financial products, like credit cards, and loans at better rates. According to Experian, only 49 per cent of 18-24 year olds know their credit score, but managing it from a young age puts you in a better position should you need to borrow in the future. It’s also helpful for things like getting approved for phone contracts, as your service provider will do a credit check on you
    • Building up your score also means you are not “credit invisible”, which refers to people who have little or no information available on their financial track record (perhaps because they haven’t paid a bill themselves before or aren’t registered to vote yet) who will find it even harder to apply for credit
  1. Set realistic goals to tackle one at a time
    • Only 38 per cent of 18-24-year-olds have clear financial goals, but goals are key to financial health as they help people gain confidence in their money management decisions and decrease money-related stress
    • Focus on goals that will allow you to build good habits overtime. Remember, budgeting is all about balance and enjoying yourself now, while also thinking about setting yourself up for the future
  1. Take action
    • While 71 per cent of 18-24-year-olds admit it’s hard to be positive about their finances given the gap between incomes and rising prices, try not to be discouraged from planning for the future, as your financial health can impact your overall wellbeing. Stay positive and take control by identifying the problem you’re facing and seek help to fix it
    • And remember, everyone has different lifestyles, priorities, goals and incomes, so don’t compare yourself to others and their spending or savings habits. Feel empowered to run your own race and work out a system that suits you



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 About the research

Unless otherwise stated, Experian commissioned Opinium to survey a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK consumers, between 20th – 23rd May 2022. 

* Experian commissioned Opinium to survey a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK consumers, between 22nd – 26th April 2022.  

About Experian

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