Holy crap! Adulting hits you like a train going full speed! Suddenly there you are out in the world, responsible for bills, health insurance, car payments, and rent, all while sleepily hauling your butt to work where you daydream about an early retirement.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that my parents set my curfew way too early and I couldn’t wait to be an adult?
Life is so cruel.
Luckily, now I’m an adulting pro (pshhh) ready to share all my tips from my whopping 26 years of life.
While I’m certainly not a “pro” – really, who is? – I’ve definitely learned some helpful basics along the way that I would’ve LOVED to know. Seriously, these tips would’ve helped me out of quite a few sticky predicaments – or at least mentally prepared me for what was to come.
So let’s get into it!
13 tips for taking on the world as an adulting newbie
1. The career will come
If you don’t love your job, that’s okay! Not many people get it right the first time. It’s pretty crazy how often people change their careers throughout their lives.
If you begin a job and realize it’s not for you, stick it out for a little while to get some experience (and money!) and start searching for another option. Life’s too short to be miserable and trust me, you’re not locked in forever.
RELATED POST: Waking Up to a Job Nightmare – What to Do When You Hate Your Job
2. Stop rushing
There’s no need to rush anything, all the good stuff will come.
I used to want to grow up fast and get to the “good stuff”: marriage, kids, a house, etc. But I’ve definitely learned there’s no need to rush those amazing life experiences. Take your time and enjoy each moment. You’re never going to experience being young again.
I’ve now been in a 5 year relationship. We live together, have pets together, and share everything – but we don’t feel rushed. We know we’re in a committed relationship and that the good stuff will come. I’m only 26, after all.
3. Pet smarts
I strongly support getting a pet. My three pets bring me so much joy, and I can’t imagine life without them. Do be sure to save up a little first and GET PET INSURANCE.
Gahh this one makes me cringe a little.
About a month after discontinuing our pet insurance last year our cat got horribly sick with a bladder infection. Four nights in the emergency vet and $2000 later, I couldn’t believe we had made such a dumb mistake.
Pets get sick. It happens even if your pets are only 2 years old. Be smarter than me and GET PET INSURANCE (and keep it!).
4. Be sociable
I had no idea how lonely the adult world could be. When I graduated college, I found myself far from all my closest friends with my family a few states away. Although I lived with my boyfriend, I missed having close girl friends.
As an adult, you’re going to be lonely sometimes. You’re going to have to look past how tired you are from work and put yourself wayyy out there to make friends.
You can’t always count on making friends at work. I lived an hour from my first job and couldn’t easily go hang out with my coworkers.
So join a fitness class and attend regularly, join clubs around your city, and ask people if they want to go out for a drink or a cup of coffee. I had no idea I’d have to go out and actually try to make friends, but the effort makes all the difference!
Of course, things are a bit harder right now with COVID-19. While it’s harder to make new friends right now, it’s a great time to hop on FaceTime or Zoom call to catch up with your old friends. Use this time to renew some of those friendships.
5. Uphold healthy living standards from the start
Begin healthy habits immediately. As soon as I left home and started living on my own, I knew it was time to make healthy living part of my own routine. If I fell into a pattern of eating fast food for dinner every night and only exercising once a week, when would I ever stop?
Whether you grew up practicing healthy habits or not, the beginning of your “adulting journey” is a great time to begin cultivating a healthy life. It’s so much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you start it right away.
Getting a fitness planner is a great way to get started and to hold yourself accountable. I recommend this one from Erin Condren:
6. Be frugal from the beginning
Likewise, incorporate frugal living and saving from the start. Get used to always putting a portion of your paycheck into savings. Buy groceries and cook at home the majority of the time. Consider purchases for a few days rather than impulse buying. If you begin this way, not only will you be saving from the start, you’ll ingrain those good habits into yourself.
7. Side hustle your way to the top
I’m a huge supporter of side hustles. They’re gaining popularity right now and it’s not a wonder why. Having a second stream of income in addition to your main income can be game-changing. If you need a little extra money, you have a way to get it. And if you lose your job, you won’t be as screwed. I’ve found that having a flexible side hustle has allowed me much more financial freedom.
8. Cooking basics
Always have ingredients for a healthy, easy-to-make meal. This is so basic but so helpful. On the nights you get home from work and have no energy to cook, just grab those ingredients and whip up your meal. If you make it all the time you’ll know the recipe by heart and it’ll take no time at all. Just make sure it has some source of veggies!
Here are two of my favorite cookbooks that got me started (and I still use today!):
9. Grab hold of your car and don’t let go
Hang on to your first car as long as humanly possible. No one wants another thing to pay for. Whether soccer-mom van or run-down early 2000s sedan, if it still drives, keep driving it!
10. Yo ‘rents, I have a favor to ask…
Stay on your parents’ insurance, phone plan, Netflix, amazon prime, etc. as long as you can. I was pretty eager to be independent and self-sufficient right away. But if you still have the option, I suggest staying on your parents’ plans. =
Little payments add up, and the help in the beginning can make a huge difference while you’re getting established – again, if you have the option.
11. Credit: a love-hate relationship
Start building credit ASAP – otherwise you can’t do anything. When I applied for my first apartment, my parents almost had to cosign because I hadn’t focused on building credit.
My advice: as soon as you can, get a credit card and start using it solely to build credit. Be sure to pay it off completely every month, and the adulting world will be much more willing to let you lease a car, rent an apartment, and do all those other older person things.
12. Do your insurance research
Make sure you understand your insurance plan when you go on it. I’d highly suggest a plan that lets you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA). Health insurance is effing confusing! Study up and learn about your options for your deductible, max out of pocket, coinsurance, and HSA/FSA (an account you contribute to pre-tax to be used for medical costs).
Trust me, although you’re young, things can happen. I was at my doctor’s office many more times than I expected last year, leaving me wistful for the lower deductible plan. Study up!
13. Get your check-ups!
Get your regular doctor, dental, and vision check-ups. Once again, just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible. When you’re young you have more time to make healthy changes and get things under control. Don’t be like me and wait four years to go to the dentist, only to find out you have two pretty bad cavities.
Learn from my mistakes! Prevention is the best medicine! And yes, the nurse in me will always support that!
Adulting is freaking hard! It’s exhausting and it’s scary. But there are things you can do right now to make life so much easier in the long run. We can do this!
Are there any other “adulting tips” you have to add to this list? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below!
As a “long time” adult and mom of 2, I would say these are awesome tips. In your 20s, it’s great to be single and have fun with friends, but you can also start building a foundation to carry you into your next stage of life, whatever that is.
Yes, absolutely! The 20s are a great time to get started. Thank you for your comment!