There is a solid argument that a basic class in being an adult should be a mandatory high school course. Many welcome the opportunity to free themselves from the constraints of being someone else’s responsibility and take on the task themselves. But without any ideas on how to manage day to day life. Setting up a new living space away from home, getting a job beyond part time basics, forming a lifestyle that doesn’t rely on a parent can be a relief. It is a certainty that you will eventually find yourself in an unfamiliar situation that no one bothered to warn you about and classrooms didn’t cover. Here is a friendly guide of basics suggested by those who have found themselves in those unexpected and unexplained situations.
Having a family can wait a while. Focus on you, and maybe a significant other and that is plenty to start with. You owe it to yourself to grow up before you have to help someone else do the same. Build a stable environment that kids can flourish in and thank yourself later for the favor.
Also, if you don’t want to have children don’t let anyone or anything pressure you into that situation. The best life for you is as authentic to your wants and desires as possible. The important part of that statement is you.
Even if it is just a shoebox under your bed, make a habit of retaining the important mail in one spot. Retaining physical billing statements for at least a year, mail that verifies your mailing address, receipts for large purchases are all potentially information you may need. Applications, taxes, government assistance,and ID’s sometimes require these types of documents.
Make a safe place like a fireproof box for documents you have to keep but do not carry with you such as birth certificates or proof of training or schooling you have taken. An accordion file folder with indexing tabs is an inexpensive way to get this all organized. Keep a notebook with an updated list of login info for any of your accounts for when your phone bricks or your laptop dies.
Bills and Banking
Sorry everyone, you are not going to escape reading and math when you graduate. It is unlikely that calculus will be required in adulthood, but bill paying is obviously a must. Get to know your bank statement and track your spending if at all possible. Carrying a checkbook is nearly obsolete, but it is easy enough to view your debits with your online bank account.
Most billing has a short grace period after the due date before any consequences other than a late fee will affect you. Be aware of any practices your bank has in regard to how quickly your deposits are available for use. Budgeting your income will help you avoid fees and saving will help you cover surprise bills. Try to build up savings to cover multiple months of bills if at all possible.
Neglecting your regular oil changes may create an unexpected financial disaster in expensive car repairs or a need to replace the vehicle. The old rule was an oil change and new filters every 3,000 miles, but synthetic oils can allow forgiveness if you push it to 5,000 miles. A used car is going to potentially need more care. When you buy used you may be unintentionally buying someone else’s car problems. A newer vehicle will often have built in systems that warn you of a problem on your dash. Do not ignore these codes and warning indicators. It’s possible that you may spare yourself a savings-emptying disaster.
If you are in an area that provides it, skip the car and use public transportation. It may save you some stress and cash, and it is better for the environment.
It isn’t impossible to get credit to replace a vehicle or make a big purchase. If you are fortunate your parents added you to a credit card they used while you still lived at home and kept up regular payments. That is a best case scenario to getting a healthy credit score established. Many of us are not so lucky to have family help with this. But you can build a good score with ontime bill paying.
Most major bills such as car payments or home loans usually have to have a decent credit score or a cosigner, but there are some providers that will work with a low score or no credit history. Unfortunately this may tack on extra costs. You have to have credit to get credit, then you have to maintain a healthy score in the upper 600 range with on time payments.
In previous generations it was likely the job you started with in life became the one you retired with. Now, many people have multiple jobs at any given time and they may change at any given time, and a secure retirement is in question. When you accept a position, explore the company climate for tenure and benefits. Don’t settle if you can improve your situation, or your work environment is unhealthy.
It is not too early to consider working towards a business that you can call your own. Small side gigs can sometimes become the basis of a multi employee operation. What can you produce or what service can you provide for your community that will fuel your financial independence? This is where that healthy credit score and an ability to build up some savings may again come into play.
You are taking care of your car’s “health”, but how about your own? Your current job may not have a great benefits package or you may not be able to afford health insurance, but you should try to keep up with appointments if you suspect a problem. You can apply for low or no cost health insurance through the government marketplace during enrollment windows. If you need assistance with basic needs, ask at a local Department of Human Services for what you may qualify for.
You have been hearing it all along, but diet and exercise are important. Good habits early on in life are worth the trouble. An older you would go back in time and tell you this.
Mental health also needs to be maintained as best as possible, keep your stress manageable, and develop a support system for difficult times. Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes, and try to forgive others for theirs if possible. Leaving these issues unaddressed will create larger issues at some point.
Becoming an adult is so much more than just a list of responsibilities. There are many potential outcomes for any given situation, so being prepared for the obvious issues is what adulthood is all about. Have a list of people and services that can be called upon to help solve the basics like getting a place to live. keeping your car running, or keeping you going. The satisfaction of getting these things accomplished, even with a little help in a tough spot, is worth all the effort you put into it.