‘As a 33-year-old I don’t think we have it worse than the previous generation’ | Money

Name: Jonathan Adcock
Age: 33
Occupation: Engineer
Income: £35,000

I feel I was born just in time. When I started university in 2005, tuition fees were £1,250 and I was exempt because my father had moved out when I was 16 and my mother was supporting us on her single salary. When my brother, who is three years younger than me, started university the criteria had changed and his fees weren’t covered.

I graduated in 2009 as the recession was kicking in but managed to get onto a two-year graduate scheme with Airbus with a salary of about £25,000.

My earnings meant that I immediately had to start paying off the loan I’d received to cover living costs. I’d borrowed £18,000 and after nine years of paying £150 a month I still have about £10,000 left – when it’s paid off that extra money will be really useful.

I met my wife in my second year at university and we moved in together in 2010. We lived in a series of rented flats and were saving hard for a deposit on a house. We accumulated £28,000 and I wasn’t sure it would be enough to buy anywhere, but three years ago we found a two-bedroom house for £240,000 in a scruffier part of town. It would have been a good £150,000 more where we’d previously been living. The house needed work but we did as much of it ourselves as possible, putting in a new bathroom and redecorating. Our mortgage payments are £900 a month which is about the same as we were paying in rent.

We now have an 18-month-old son which has changed our spending and lifestyle. Both of us have reduced our working week to four days so that he only needs to go to nursery for three days. That meant we both had to take a 20% cut in income, but it means we each get to spend time with him. Childcare averages £800 a month but because we’re signed up to the government’s tax-free childcare scheme we get 20% of it back.

Since becoming parents we’ve had to cut back on nightlife. We used to go out regularly to dinner or gigs – now we try to do it once a month when we can get a babysitter. Instead we buy a decent bottle or two of wine for the weekend and I spend free time on hobbies I can do at home. I’m learning the acoustic guitar and I like making furniture for the house. I did a council-run carpentry course a few years ago and have made a chest of drawers and a shelf unit.

I’m a keen cyclist and have two bikes, once of which I built myself out of components. I use one to get to the pub and the council-run gym I’m a member of (£28 a month) and the other I ride out into the country with friends at weekends. We have a car which costs about £150 a month to run and we spend about £30 a month on public transport.

We’ve had to cut back on holidays. Before our son was born we’d go abroad once a year and maybe have a weekend away. Last year we had a £600 week on Skye in an Airbnb.

We’re not materialistic – we have no interest in a fancy car or luxuries. I prefer to buy my clothes second hand for environmental as well as economic reasons and most of our furniture was bought used off eBay.

We’ve consciously cut back on meat for environmental reasons too and only eat it once or twice a week now. We try to buy food from independent shops but there aren’t many round where we live.

I don’t agree with the view that things were easier for my parents’ generation. They may have benefited from free university tuition and affordable house prices but they never had the travel opportunities that we had. We’ve both been all over the world. However, I’m well aware that we are a lot more fortunate than many other people. My wife gets £32,000 as a teacher and shares the bills so we both earn above the average wage and have enough to save £300 a month for a holiday or in case the boiler or car packs up. I don’t know how people on below-average incomes can ever afford to buy a house.

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