Holy crap! Adulting hits you like a train going full speed when you get thrown out into the world. Suddenly here I am, responsible for bills, health insurance, car payments, vet bills, all while sleepily hauling my butt to work where I 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 cruel like that.
Luckily, now I’m an adulting pro (pshhh) ready to share all my tips from my whopping 24 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, they would’ve helped me out of quite a few sticky predicaments – or at least mentally prepared me for what was to come.
So here you have it.
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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 work 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. Life’s too short to be miserable and trust me, you’re not locked in forever.
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 3.5 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 24, after all.
I love home decor that helps remind me to relax and just enjoy life, like this cute sign.
3. Pet smarts
I strongly support getting a pet. My two 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 45-60 minutes 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!
One way to meet new people is to join ClassPass. It let’s you try out different fitness studios in your area without committing to one off the bat. You can either hop around and continue meeting people in different studios, or you can get a membership at one you really feel connected to. It’s such a genius idea.
5. Uphold healthy living standards from the start
Begin healthy habits immediately. As soon as I left home and lived 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?
I was extremely lucky to have parents instill healthy habits in me from a young age. I don’t feel right not eating vegetables with a main meal, and fruit had always been an accessible snack growing up. But whether you grew up living healthily or not, the beginning of your adulting “journey” is the best time to begin cultivating a healthy life. It’s been so much easier for me to maintain this lifestyle since I started right away.
Getting a healthy habit planner is a great way to get started and to hold yourself accountable. I’d recommend this one:
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 source 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! My go-to is this salmon recipe.
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!