Ally Robertson finished university, got a job, only to discover things weren't as simple as that.
With rent, travel, food, water, council tax and heating to pay for before she could consider any spending on herself, life became more complicated.
"I graduated this summer and have never felt as stressed about money in my whole life as I do now. I also can’t help but compare myself to friends who might be earning more than me," Ally said.
She added that her life before entering the world of work wasn't the greatest preparations for dealing with the reality of managing your money either.
“Throughout school and University there isn’t the guidance there to help you understand finances," the shop worker explained.
“Not talking about money can have a negative effect on how you feel and when you run into money problems you can end up feeling quite isolated."
Ally isn't alone, either. Nearly half of 18 to 24-year-olds say they fear more for the state of their finances in 2019 than they did last year, research from NatWest found.
The good news is that she found a way through.
How Ally found a way to talk about money
NatWest fount socialising was a big cause of concern for younger Brits - with many saying they had gone on dates, or on holidays or attended weddings or music festivals, despite being worried about whether they could afford it.
That went along with rising costs for essentials such as food and travel, not being able to save and not having a steady level of income.
Given a general reluctance to talk about the contents of your bank account, the pressure is building for many - but Ally, along with her friends, found a way to discuss it.
“Over the last year me and my friends have started to read and share money diaries and it’s really helped to put our own finances in perspective," she said.
"Comparing and contrasting our own financial worries with those online has shown that we’re not alone and it’s really refreshing to read honest, relatable stories about managing money.
“I think talking about money is always going to be awkward, but Money Diaries give you a funny, but also inspirational place to start.
"It’s meant we’ve had some really interesting conversations about budgeting and just how to keep track of our cash over the last few months. "
Expert tips to beating financial stress
The main tip NatWest offered was to find a way to talk about your situation.
"Talking about money is proven to have a positive effect, as well as helping people to make better financial decisions," said Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable Banking at NatWest.
“Money doesn't just affect our financial health; it's linked to our physical, mental and social wellbeing too."
She added: "That’s why we’re urging everyone to strike up a conversation this January to help make their financial lives easier.
"If people have particular concerns they should talk to their bank about the tools, such as budgeting tools or financial health checks, which can really help.”
She also offered more specific advice to help people looking to find a place to start.
Here are Kirsty's top 5 money tips for people looking to improve their financial position:
- Set yourself goals - We know that opening up and having a conversation about your finances can be really helpful and have positive outcomes for your mental health and managing money – it can help you prioritise your money.Having something in my mind that you want to save money for can be a powerful motivator– try and link it to something you’d like to do, or something you’d like to be able to afford in the next few months and work out how much money you'll need to meet your goals.
If you don’t already have one, open up a savings account and use the tools available through online banking to track your progress.
- Create a budget and stick to it - Take a close look at your spending. By keeping track of your incomings and outgoings over time, you’ll be able to identify areas where you’re likely to come in under budget – and you could put the surplus towards your savings.
- Start saving - Starting to put money away can be the biggest psychological hurdle to overcome. It’s important to start saving but never too late to do so, it doesn’t necessarily matter how much you save to begin with - the important thing is getting in to the habit.You can always increase the amount you save by looking at your budget. Standing orders can make saving easy, set up a standing order to transfer money to a savings account as soon as you've been paid.
Setting up a savings account is quick and easy and means you can start saving for things immediately.
- Cut back where you can - At the beginning of a new year, it’s good to look at where you could cut back on certain things.Ask yourself, are there any little luxuries you could cut back on to reach your goal quicker? Remember to review your direct debits – getting on top of what’s going out is as important as thinking about what’s coming in.
For example, you could cancel an unused gym membership or consider cutting out the mid-week takeaway.
- Ask for help and support from those around you - It’s important to know that there’s lots of different help available out there, especially if you’re looking to get on the property ladder.There are also Government-backed schemes designed to help first-time buyers and we speak to lots of people who have either stayed home for a little longer to save for a deposit for a house or moved back home for a period of time.
You could also think about buying somewhere with a trusted friend or family member – you don’t have to go it alone.