Adulting 101: Tips To Be a Well-Balanced Adult
Updated: Jul 12
Being an adult is a vague concept. Legally you're an adult at 18, but looking back at that age, most of us wouldn't classify ourselves as such. Some say you're an adult when you have kids, but not everyone wants children. And there are a lot of parents out there who need some growing up to do. For many, being an adult occurs simply when you do enough adult things - having a full-time job, cooking for yourself, doing your own laundry...
In short, taking care of yourself without the support of your parents or college.
Adulting for beginners is tough, you may be working full-time and supporting yourself. However, being a well-functioning adult is a separate thing entirely. Balancing your money, work, social life, etc., to be not only independent but also comfortable takes effort. Our list below will help you take adulting to the next level, optimizing your money, food, and social life.
Let's start out by talking about finances
Don't Buy Anything You Can't Buy Twice
Google "How to budget your life" and over a billion results will generate. It's a common question but also a complicated one, with countless variables, some unique to a single individual. But hey, this is Adulting 101, so let's talk about one that's easy to remember and almost universally applicable. A philosophy the rapper/mogul Jay Z lives by is, "If you can't buy it twice, you can't afford it."
There's a natural tendency for new adults to go shopping crazy the first time they have disposable income. The realization that anything in the store is available to you, with no permission needed, it's intoxicating and can lead to some poor decisions. But if you follow this principle, suddenly a lot of items are off the table, including that 72-inch flatscreen TV. Go home and enjoy your 54-inch TV, it's perfectly adequate.
Understand Credit Cards
I don't want to scare you into avoiding credit cards, but yes, it is true in the wrong hands they can be disastrous. However, establishing good credit is crucial to being an adult. Good credit can get you better interest rates on loans and cards, cheaper car insurance rates, and can remove security deposits for rentals and utilities. When it's time to buy a house or move into a better apartment, good credit opens up more doors for you.
Research credit cards before applying and understand your habits. There are a variety of cards; picking one that suits your lifestyle is critical. If you know you will pay off everything at the end of the month, maybe you can opt for a cashback card, which has higher interest rates but can pay 1-2% cashback on expenses. For me, this totals around $800 a year, which is a great perk for the holiday season. If you don't trust yourself, opt for a lower-interest card, it will have fewer benefits but will still build your credit.
Now that we've gone over finances, let's move onto food
Learn To Cook
Besides, food being essential for survival, cooking has many benefits. Cooking is an attractive quality to prospective partners, it can introduce you to new cultures, and it saves a lot of money. I can't stress this enough - Cooking from home saves a lot of money and if you meal prep, it can save a ton of time too! Here is a hypothetical day in the life of an average adult who doesn't cook:
Breakfast: Dunkin Donuts, coffee and a bagel/$5.00
Lunch break at work: Sandwich, chips, and a drink/$12.00
Dinner: Specialty restaurant, like the delicious Peruvian restaurant near my house/$18.00
Total daily costs/$35
For $35 at the supermarket you can buy a pound of rice, a variety of meat (I like chicken thighs), spices, and vegetables, to round out the meal. That could last you a whole week. Now I know people don't want to eat the same meal every day, but this is a hypothetical scenario. Suffice to say there are huge savings when cooking from home.
Most recipes you find online are proportioned for a family, and If you're reading this, you're probably cooking for 1 or 2. Understand how many people you're preparing for and divide accordingly. Or even better research if the food your cooking can be stored without getting spoiled and eaten throughout the week, as a time saver. Sauces and Soups freeze well - Store them in individual freeze sealed ziplock bags and thaw them out for a quick meal.
Clean As You Cook
Cooking makes a lot of dishes and when you're new to it all your attention is on getting the recipe right, not the mountain of dishes you've formed. You'll do them after, you say to yourself. But of course, you'll want to eat your meal while it's hot. Now with a full stomach, all you want to do is lay on the couch, watch Netflix and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a workday, so you can't get to the dishes until after. Coming home from work, you can't be bothered to both clean dishes and cook, so tonight you'll order out. And the cycle begins again.
Do dishes as you cook! It will save you a lot of time and money.
We've covered finances and food, now we're going to talk about your social life.
Put Yourself Out There
The best advice I've ever gotten came after an extended period of loneliness: Make an effort, life as an adult is inherently isolated. Work and sleep take up a ton of your day, and a large portion of your personal time needs to be devoted to errands. It's very easy to waste what's ever left of your free time alone in the house watching TV or on the internet. Make an effort. Reach out to old friends, who are probably in the same rut as you. Go to local events and mingle, get to know your co-workers outside of work. The only thing stopping you from enjoying life as an adult is you.
That's it for our Adulting 101 tips! If you liked this article, be sure to check out Things Only The Real World Can Teach You for a good laugh and more life lessons!