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I recently became a full fledged adult and I came to a realization: I’m really lucky that I made some good choices earlier down the line because life can get expensive QUICKLY and that can be pretty hard to come back from. Here’s a list of things you should know about being an adult, followed by a brief rant about why no adults are telling our youth this. Enjoy!
1. Get a job with good health care benefits.
Why in the name of all that is sensible do we not stress this more to people before they become adults? Health care is expensive and shit happens, man. You have to make sure you can get sick and not go broke as a result.
I recently was diagnosed with a congenital urological defect that didn’t show up until my early 20’s. Since that first trip to the emergency room, my life has been full of doctors visits, tests, procedures, and prescriptions. It even went so far as to me having reparative surgery in early October. Between July and this moment, I’ve well surpassed my early out of pocket maximum and that’s only accounting for the small portion of each bill I was responsible for.
I cannot express how lucky I am to have gotten a job straight out of college that had a good benefits package tacked onto it. If I hadn’t, I’d probably be screwed right now.
2. You don’t have to go out to have fun. Get creative at home or snuggle up to some Netflix and a few drinks and you’ll have a great night, I promise.
I feel like so much of our culture, including our parents (if you’re lucky), encourages us to go out and be with friends and do things. But guess what, doing things costs money and sometimes money’s tight. Does that mean that you should stop having fun? No! But it does mean you should adjust accordingly.
So many people my age continue to go out several times a week and spend loads of money they can’t afford to spend all because they’re lonely, can’t/don’t want to be alone with themselves, or have been encultured to believe that that’s what you do at this age and that’s what fun looks like at this age. That may be what you see on Instagram, but that’s not what people’s lives actually look like. Fun fact: most Instagram personalities save pictures they take for days, weeks, months, even years to make it look like they’re living the ideal life when, in reality, some of them may be just as broke and lost as you are.
3. Learn how to budget!
Learn how to balance your checkbook and how to keep a running budget for yourself. It’s going to be important for you to know exactly how much you’re taking in and how much you’re spending — make a habit now of keeping yourself disciplined in sticking to your budget!
The fact that there isn’t a class on this in high school baffles me to this day. There are some exceptions, however. I was lucky enough to have the ability to take a class focused entirely on arming me with the tools I need to be financially successful in life. It has been the key to so many of the positive life choices I’ve made through the years and is probably one of the biggest favors I did for myself. If you have the opportunity to take a class like that, take it. You won’t regret it. If you don’t have that type of opportunity in your school or community, I’d suggest working to change that and see if that can be added to the curriculum in the school district in which you live.
4. The people you know and what they will do for you is one of your most powerful tools in getting ahead in life. Cultivate your network and maintain good, healthy relationships with people. You never know who you’ll need a favor from.
I’m astonished there isn’t a course on this in high school. There certainly ought to be. Networking is one of the most important skills to have in the real world. Networking is how you make your dreams become realities. It’s what gets you into good colleges, grad schools, doctoral programs, law firms, medical schools, corporate jobs, miscellaneous jobs, all sorts of jobs! Knowing the right people will always be an ace up your sleeve. Make sure to cultivate yours as soon as possible.
5. Get a pet.
Having an animal to take care of and be responsible for builds great character and teaches you various valuable lessons that you would only otherwise get if you’d ever been a caretaker of another sort. The one caveat I should add here is that you must make sure you can afford to have a pet both monetarily and regarding time you can afford to give to that animal. They require a lot of attention and can be expensive as well but they will keep you company when everyone else has gone home, they will love you unconditionally, and they’re basically a free home security system (if you choose a dog, which is clearly the best choice).
No one really tells you this either and it’s pretty upsetting. We should be emphasizing much more heavily the benefits of having pets. Many people my age don’t want to have to take care of an animal because they’d rather go out, get drunk, and wake up somewhere unfamiliar. With most pets, you can’t really do that—or shouldn’t. But most only have that preference because they’ve never known anything different and have never been explained the benefits of having a pet.
Bottom line: they’re worth the investment and we have many animals that need homes so step up and rescue an animal!
I hope that these 5 tips have been helpful to you as they have been helpful to me in my life.
My warmest regards.