When I graduated college and was getting ready to be on my own for the first time, I thought life was going to be one big party. I could do whatever I wanted when I wanted- no more class, no more rules, no longer under my parents’ roof. I was going to live life like one beautifully curated Instagram page (little did I know it’s either fake or merely the highlights). I was in for a rude awakening that many of us have experienced and wish we had been better prepared for. Adulting Is no joke. It requires a lot of responsibility, learning on the fly, troubleshooting, and making a lot of mistakes. There is so much they don’t teach you in school and so much you’re not even told. Here’s everything I they didn’t teach us in school and really wish they had.
- Credit. A lot of people have debit cards until they’re on their own. The soonest you can start building credit, do it, you will need it. You often need established credit to a rent an apartment or to lease a car. Start establishing good credit so you can do the things you dream of doing in the future like buying a house.
- Renting. It sounds fun to have your own place, I know. But there’s a lot that goes into renting an apartment. You have to figure out where you want to live, what you can afford (many recommend spending at most 30% of your total monthly income), fill out a rental application and get approved, find movers to get your stuff there, and you will need renter’s insurance in case of emergency. And if you want your security deposit back when you move out, you will need to keep the apartment in good condition (take pictures when you move in and document anything that is broken).
- Car. If you choose to live in a city where you need a car, you will need to look into leasing or buying one. Sure, we all want the convertible we see in the movies, but is it in your budget? A car is much more than just the upfront cost. You will be paying for registration, gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, and potentially unknown costs. Start flexing your negotiation skills to get the best deals you possibly can to save some coin. Remember, you’re just starting your life as an adult, there is plenty of time to have the car of your dreams.
- Job. You will be presented with health insurance options and maybe even 401k options. Learn what a deductible is. Ask questions. Will money come out of your paycheck for these perks? Will you be taxed on them? Also, this is your first adult job, but it doesn’t have to be your dream job. Learn as much as you possibly can. You don’t have to love it. Now is the time to figure out what you like and don’t like, to try new things, and to take risks. You may be tested with difficult bosses or difficult coworkers. Remember, it’s all a learning experience and a stepping stone to what you want to do next. Pay your dues but know your worth too.
- Taxes. With income comes taxes. Make sure you know if taxes are taken out of your paycheck or not. If they’re not, you will need to set aside money so you have enough to pay taxes. Educate yourself on how to prepare for tax season and to be as prepared as possible by talking to a tax professional.
- Adult Friendships. Maybe you’ve had the same friends since you were five and maybe you have a super close group of college friends that are inseparable. But life is about to change. You are all starting new journeys. To maintain your friendships it will take planning, effort, and working at it. Make plans, schedule dinners, set up times to talk on the phone, and share the big moments. Life will start to take you in different directions- people will get married, people will have kids, people will move, and people will start all over again. Friendship takes a new shape. You won’t be together as much as you used to be, but you can still remain close and connected by adapting with your ever-changing lives.