Young people's financial strategies: Insights from the Australian Youth Barometer
Research into the financial lives of young people often presents them as vulnerable to risk and struggling to manage their financial worlds. In a context of continuously changing financial landscapes, only rarely are the perspectives of young people themselves are used to inform such research.
This report explores young people’s experiences managing their finances and coping strategies during times of struggle. Using survey and interview data from the 2021 Australian Youth Barometer, the main findings indicate that young people’s financial decisions do not happen in isolation. Instead, they are closely linked to specific situations in their life and broader context, including their housing situation, employment status, relationships with family, mental health, and wellbeing. This has implications for the regulation of financial products and financial education. In particular, young people often access services such as ‘buy now, pay later’ because they have limited financial options and need to access funds to cover their needs. In times of struggle, being able to access government support without shame and stigma is critical, but schools also play a key role in ensuring every young person has the skills to make informed decisions when adopting traditional and digital financial products.