• Consumer credit;
  • cash advance;
  • payday loan;
  • young consumer


The aim of this paper is to study 18- to 29-year-old Finnish consumers' use of instant small loans (i.e. SMS loan) and other consumer credit services that have increased notably in the past few years. We examine what kind of expenditures instant credit is used for and focus also on young consumers' financial situation and their perceptions of themselves as money handlers. The research method is quantitative, and data are derived from an open online survey (n = 1610). Our results reveal that consumer credit is used by young people in all income brackets and employment positions. However, there is a clear connection between certain life-course stages (young, single parent), financial positions (low income), employment situations (marginal) and the propensity to take instant loans and consumer credit. The young people who take an instant loan once are likely to do it again. Typical purposes of use included buying alcohol, cigarettes and partying. For some consumers, the use of small loans is part of controlled and economical use of money. However, particularly in the low-income brackets, it is also common to buy food and to repay credit or interest. Young people, who use instant loans recognize flaws in their money management and see themselves as ‘wasteful’ consumers more often than those who do not use instant loans. On the basis of this empirical study, it is unquestioned that young people's consumer education needs to be strengthened. In Finland, this need has already been recognized in both consumer policy and teacher education.