While struggling older Britons are delaying their retirements by an average of five years, younger people are putting off buying homes and having children due to their financial concerns.

In fact, it is those aged between 18 and 34 who are having to put most on hold due to a lack of cash.

The research shows that 17% of Britons in this age group have put off buying a house for an average of four years, while another one in 10 have delayed tying the knot by about three years. And almost as many have postponed trying for their first child, for the same period of time.

Clare Francis, consumer finance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: “It is worrying that the current state of the economy is forcing people to delay exciting and important life stages such as having children or buying your first home.”

Those between the ages at which we tend to be starting a family or preparing for retirement, meanwhile, have implemented cutbacks that have put paid to plans to travel, make home improvements and up their short-term savings – for the moment at least.

How can I get my finances – and my life – back on track?

A massive 46% of the survey respondents felt that reducing their living costs would free up the money they need to fulfill their dreams.
A third, meanwhile, said that paying off their debts would give them the financial freedom they require to turn things around.

So when it comes to getting your finances back on track, there is no time to waste – especially when using MoneySupermarket to switch your major bills can help you to save more than £1,000 a year.

Clare Francis said: “Brits can fight back from living their life in limbo and take control of their own financial situation. By organising their finances and switching to the best deals available significant savings can be made; easily enough to make home improvements or pay off debts.”

How can I cut my living costs?

Great ways to cut your day-to-day spending include switching your gas and electricity supply to an online, direct debit deal, either on a 'dual fuel' tariff or separate tariffs for gas and electricity from different providers, which ever is cheapest.

Moving from the average standard quarterly cash and cheque (QCC) tariff to the best online tariff could slash an average household’s annual bills by £224.

You can also save £500 a year by shopping around for the best deals when your car and home insurance policies next come up for renewal.

Figures show that consumers who use MoneySupermarket to switch their providers typically save £373 on car insurance and £127 on home insurance.

Meanwhile, bundling together your home phone, internet and television to take advantage of discounts could free up £125 a year to stash away for unexpected expenses or to bring you one step closer to your dreams.

Clare Francis said: “I would urge those who are delaying saving to try to put aside even just £10 a week as this could make all the difference for emergency or rainy day funds.”

If you are looking for a new savings account, however, don’t forget that the best accounts pay well over 10 times as much interest as average bank or building society accounts.

The easy access Coventry Building Society Online Saver account, for example, pays 3.15% (including a 12-month 1.15% bonus).

How can I reduce my debts?

If you are a homeowner, the biggest debt you have is likely to be the mortgage secured against your house or flat. And the good news is that you could cut your mortgage payments by over £1,200 a year just by moving to a better deal – especially if you are paying your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).

SVRs currently average 4.83%, meaning that someone with a £150,000 mortgage could save themselves £1,234.18 a year switching to a two-year, fixed-rate mortgage from HSBC priced at 2.54% with a £1,999 fee.

If you are on a fixed or discounted deal, however, check first whether any early repayment charges will apply should you switch as these could wipe out the potential savings in one fell swoop.

The same is true for personal loan customers concerned that they are paying over the odds. You could, for example, save £394 over the next 12 months by borrowing £7,500 via a five-year Marks & Spencer Personal Loan at 6.0% APR, rather than taking out a loan with the average rate of 15.74% APR.

To pay off one loan early with another, you will usually be charged one months’ interest. This is not the case for credit card borrowers though, many of whom could save hundreds of pounds a year by switching their plastic to a 0% deal.

And given that transferring a £2,000 balance from the current average rate of 17.32% APR to the market-leading, 22-month Barclaycard Platinum Card with Extended Balance Transfer would save you £243.85 (taking into account the balance transfer fee) over the next 12 months, there is no point sticking with a below par deal.

Only borrowers with good credit scores are accepted for the top deals, though. If you are concerned about being rejected, it is therefore a good idea to use the MoneySupermarket SmartSearch credit-profiling tool to find out which deals suit your personal circumstances.

Find out more by checking out our Life in Limbo infographic.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.