Growing up, you automatically looked up to people older than you. In elementary school, you couldn’t wait to be a cool high schooler. Then in high school, you admired the college students who seemed so mature. And by the end of your collegiate career, you were itching to become a full-time adult. Now that you are an adult, you may start to realize that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Remember how at age 6 you thought you would be married with kids and a house by age 22? Yeah, that seems slightly unrealistic now, doesn’t it? In this day and age, “adulting” has become a skill that you learn gradually. Settling a mortgage or starting a 401K are definitely mature tasks that seem overwhelming for the younger generation. You prioritize your new job or an artistic endeavor or an exciting more across the country rather than starting a 401K or investigating your own insurance plan. Some of this isn’t your fault, because, unfortunately, most universities don’t yet offer classes on the “basic principles of adult life.” Most of these discoveries will come to you through trial and error. Learning to “adult” is quite the adventure, and it can definitely be difficult to figure out where to start.
Imagine this: you’ve just graduated high school, college, or an accredited online degree programs. You’re excited to start a life on your own, with a new job and complete freedom from your parents’ control. However, you may start to realize all of the extra things your parents were covering for you. Being an adult isn’t always a walk in the park. Where do you even start?
The first step to embracing adulthood is embracing responsibility. Everything comes down to you now, and if something goes wrong, you have only yourself to blame. Rather than at school or at home, no one will be over your shoulder demanding certain actions of you. If you don’t schedule your doctors’ appointment and you get sick, that’s on you. No one will remind you to pay your rent every month, but it will still be due.
Providing for yourself is going to bring about bigger questions than you’ve had to answer before. Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? Who do you want to surround yourself with? Your early 20s may be a hard time and full of adjustment. Just know that everyone is pretty much on the same page. You’re all confused, and you may be feeling a little isolated. This is normal and okay. Life is shifting and adjusting for you; just be ready to shift and adjust to it.
What Are Your Expenses?
Most of this newfound responsibility develops from your financial freedom. After graduating, you (hopefully) will be getting ready to start your first full-time, professional job. Now you actually get to figure out how much money it takes to build your life. For your first few years on your own, it may feel like your world revolves around money. With entry-level or part-time jobs, this is usually the case. Figuring out a budget that works for you is extremely important.
Before you were completely independent, your finances may not have been as big of a focus for you. Remember being 5 years old and saving up to buy your favorite doll? Well, now you are 25 years old and saving up to buy new Ford 2018 vehicles. There’s a bit of a difference between a $20 price tag and a $20,000. You will have to start making big decisions as far as what extravagances you can afford and what you may have to cut back on.
To create your budget, start by listing all of your life expenses — rent, food, gas, car payment, loan payments, electric, water, WiFi, etc. Once you have figured all your necessary expenses, you want to figure how much you can save every month. Saving is a very adult thing to do and also prepares you for your future. Experts recommend setting up separate savings accounts: one for retirement, one for big future purchases, and one as a safety account. Your safety savings are in case of emergencies like an unexpected doctors’ appointment or car trouble. You can also set up savings for future purchases you wish to make, such as planning a wedding or visiting the furniture store in Mechanicsburg, PA to pick out a new couch. After you have budgeted your expenses and your savings, the extra money can be “fun money.” This is the extra cash you can spend on entertainment or social events. The burden of adulthood is that sometimes you have to say no to these more fun activities in order to afford the set expenses in your life.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
Obviously, your biggest responsibility as a young adult is navigating your financial responsibilities, but you also have the responsibility of completely taking care of your own wellbeing. When you’re young, your parents schedule your appointments for you and help you advance in whatever activity you were doing. Your parents asked the questions so you didn’t have to. Sometimes this can prove tricky if you never learned. For example, do you really know how insurance works for your health or your vehicle? If you’re building a house, do you know how to find the best-trusted home builder in Harleysville, PA? Are you prepared to sign up for your own 401K plan? Don’t be afraid to ask these questions. It is your responsibility to advocate for yourself.
Taking Charge of Your Future
Taking charge of your budget and your new responsibilities is your first step to taking charge of your future. Learning to “adult” means learning to plan and decide what makes you happy. Yes, you have a lot of new things to focus on and worry about, but don’t forget to enjoy being young. Becoming a grown-up is hard enough without forgetting your passions. It is easy to get caught up in the pressures of providing for yourself. While you are providing for yourself financially, make sure you are also feeding your soul. Enjoy your creativity and explore some new adventures. Focus on the grown-up stuff, but also enjoy the journey to figure it all out.