Reality cheque hits Brits at 35

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 05:30 pm

Average British borrower owes £309,000 over their lifetime

Generational borrowing trends revealed for the first time, with 35 year olds bearing the brunt of financial responsibility

2.7 million MoneySuperMarket Smart Search enquiries analysed to track a “lifetime of borrowing”
MoneySuperMarket today reveals that 35 is the financial ‘crunch point’ – the peak age at which Brits are most likely to be juggling the cost of young children with mortgages and loan repayments for cars, holidays and weddings.

For the first time ever, the leading price comparison website has charted the average lifetime of borrowing, analysing 2.7 million credit card and loan enquires on its Smart Search eligibility tool to build a unique picture of the nation’s key borrowing milestones.

The report reveals that the average British borrower will owe £309,000 over their lifetime, including £111,000 in interest[1], should they buy a house at the average price, get a student loan, live with credit card for a decade and take out personal loans for a new car and a holiday abroad.

The timeline plots the ‘financial rites of passage’ that Brits will transition through during adulthood:

23: With university fees nearly trebling to £9,000 in 2012, it’s not surprising that borrowing starts at just 23 years old – the average age for students to enquire about a credit card as they embark on their post-university career

28: The late twenties represents a major borrowing peak – as financial responsibilities start to kick in but Brits are two years away from hitting the national salary average (£28,200)[2], this age sees the highest rate of enquiries for credit cards and loans

32: The peak age for having a baby is now 32 years old[3] and has been steadily increasing over the last fifty years. The delay may also mean prospective parents feel better prepared financially to cope with the £230,000 cost of raising a child to 21[4]

35: With a mortgage, children and previous outstanding loans, 35 years old is when Brits most feel the financial squeeze, with the number of applications for ‘debt loans’ – loans specifically to pay off other debts – soaring at this age

39: With rocketing housing prices and the introduction of new stamp duty tariffs, families are increasingly opting to stay put and extend as opposed to trading up, with home improvement loans peaking at the age of 39
44: The most common age for divorce is now a relatively young 44 years old, costing the average divorcee a huge £70,000[5] – nine times higher than the average wedding loan

65: While this age sees the lowest rate of enquiries for loans and credit cards, the amount requested is at its highest, revealing that borrowing continues well into retirement age

Dan Plant, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, says, “Our Smart Search tool is used every 12 seconds in the UK, which has helped give us an unprecedented insight into borrowing over the average lifetime. While it’s clear that people reach a ‘financial crunch’ point at 35, no matter how old you are, it’s always wise to plan ahead and choose your products carefully before you borrow, to make sure you can afford the repayments.”

MoneySuperMarket’s Smart Search eligibility tool gives would-be borrowers an indication of how likely they are to be accepted for a product without leaving a mark on their credit score.

For more information and to see where you sit on the ‘Age of Borrowing’ timeline, visit:

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