Would you put off having kids and settling down until your finances were stable - or does running out of time frighten you?

New research has suggested that when it comes to what’s important in life, the UK’s young people are ditching getting married and having a family for being financially secure.

It’s hardly surprising, really - the average wedding costs in excess of £24k and the cost of raising a child until he or she is 21 will cost parents an eye-watering £230k.

A study carried out by Beabetteryou.com interviewed over 2,000 young British adults about their priorities, and discovered that Millennials’ number one goal was financial security (88%), followed by owning their own home (82%). Hitting fitness goals, climbing the career ladder and becoming their own bosses were next on the list. Getting married (55%) and starting a family (53%) were low on the list - eighth and ninth respectively on Millennials' list of priorities.

So, what's it like to be young, ambitious, full of energy - and to have to wait to settle down and have kids?

Entrepreneur Hayley Smith, 28, set up Boxed Out PR when she was 24. She has been in a relationship for three years, and is waiting to get her finances sorted before she gets married and has kids.

“I’ve been with my partner for three years, although I’ve known him for eight, as we went to uni together,” she explains. “I am only 28, so kids and marriage haven’t really been a factor yet. However, I am older now, and I'm in an amazing relationship where they are more possible. However, we still have a lot we want to do. It won’t happen this side of 30. I want to be in a position where kids won’t hold me back - they'll make everything better.

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“I have no idea when the timing will be right,” Hayley continues. “Marriage will definitely come before children, but there’s so much more I want to do, like make my business stable, and travel a lot more. I want to be in a position where I can think, ‘I can do this with a child’ rather than 'I wouldn’t be able to do this with a child.’

Hayley never feels resentful of her business, and has loved building it up. “My business is the reason I am where I am, and it means a better quality life for me and my future family,” she says. “I am a workaholic, but its purpose is to enhance my life - it’s not my whole life. I made the very conscious choice to put off kids until I am older, and I have never regretted this decision.”

She feels that there should be incentives in place to help young people get the financial help they need to start families when they’re ready, and help alleviate the strain. “There should be more allowances or tax breaks, yes,” she says. “For example, I don’t own my own home, but I’d like to.”

Having made a choice to put her business first Hayley is prepared to work hard until she feels ready to start a family - but luckily, she never feels pressured or panicked. “If for whatever reason I couldn’t have my own children, I would adopt,” she says. “I know that as I get older it will be harder to conceive but what will be, will be. I’m still in no rush. If I fell pregnant now, it wouldn’t be a major issue, but I would prefer to wait. Especially as we still have so much to do.”

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Hayley’s relaxed attitude has ensured she never feels resentful of her friends and family who have chosen to settle down earlier - and she is confident to wait until she is more financially sorted before starting a family. “I have never been envious of my friends or younger people with families,” she says. “I’m very glad that I didn’t have children younger, and I am waiting until I am ready. That’s what matters.”

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Rachel Ofili is in a new relationship and hopes to settle down with a family of her own one day. She is currently working towards getting her new business, Hotcakes Cupcakes, off the ground.

Rachel

Rachel has put off having a family ever since she graduated in 2004. "I've found myself holding back because I only have enough to sustain myself, and not a family," she says. "Nothing's really changed with my finances since finishing university until now. That's 13 years putting off having a family until I am ready."

She is unsure how long she'll wait until she decides to put her career second, and focus on having kids. "I don't know how long I'll give myself until I start my family," she continues. "It really depends on the person I am with. If my partner can financially carry the both of us until my business is off the ground, then it will make it easier to settle and plan on having children. However, it's still a gamble as you never know if the relationship will work. Finding the right person is very important."

Despite the pressure of getting Hotcakes Cupcakes off the ground, Rachel has never resented the time and effort she puts in. "I have never felt angry at my business for taking up my time and energy; I'm more scared that I may lose the window of opportunity to have children," she says. "I have never resented my business because I am doing something that I love and that will never change."

"As women, time is always against us," she continues. "I have felt some sort of anger in the past, but it's more towards the lack of help available to women to help them excel. We do not have the privilege of holding out too long."

Rachel's family are keen to see her settle down and she often feels panicked or worried she'll run out of time to start a family.

"I feel pressure to settle down quite a lot," she explains. "I come from an African background, so if I don't worry about where I am in life, my family will, so you never really get that breathing space. Someone will always remind you that your body clock is ticking or you can't hide your age.

"Sometimes I think my situation is unfair. But what can I say? I have to plod on. I also feel that I have chosen this path because the one put before me by society doesn't work for me."

Rachel is happy for family and friends who settled down before her - and is able to use their happiness as a driving force. "When I see others in a more settled situation than me, I use it as motivation to go out and create my dream, and be happy with it," she says. "I find peace in knowing that a lot of successful people such as Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey started late in life, so I still have a chance."

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