Growing up isn’t much fun. Sure, there are benefits: you’re free of your parents, you can legally drink, and you have a little money of your own (though you wish you had more!). But with adulthood comes responsibilities: taxes, bills, work, and so much more. When was the last time you went to the dentist? Did you remember to pay the electrical bill? “Adulting” is hard stuff.
What is “adulting?”
Yes, you know that adulting is a cheeky term we use to describe the collective responsibilities that come with being a grown-up. But what we’re asking here is what the essence of adulting is – what all of these things have in common. Because they do have something in common!
You (hopefully) went to the dentist when you were a child, so going to the dentist is not “adulting.” But when you were a kid, you didn’t know for very long ahead of time that you had a dentist’s appointment coming up. Maybe you found out that day! That’s because your parents made that appointment for you, and that’s the essence of adulting: planning ahead. Going to the dentist is a task for all ages, but making the appointment, letting your boss know that you need to take a few hours off, and marking your calendar so that you don’t forget to go? That’s adulting, baby.
So here’s how you adult: you get a calendar and a notepad (you can use online tools, if you’d prefer). You write down everything you can think of that you need to schedule, and then you schedule it and write it on the calendar. Start with the things below, and add things as you remember them. When someone mentions their new glasses, you may suddenly remember that you need to have an annual eye appointment for your own poor vision. Quick – write it down!
Here are a few key tasks to get you started.
Your Health Comes First
A lot of the appointments you’ll have to start making will be for doctors, dentists, and other health professionals. These should be a priority! No matter how young or invincible you feel now, you need to start investing in your health immediately in order to be as healthy and happy as possible years down the line.
The first step here is to get health insurance – you may already have a plan through you work. Get on the insurance provider’s website and find out what kind of options you have within your health insurance network (in-network providers are usually covered entirely or in part by your insurance, and will generally be much cheaper than out-of-network options). There may be a tool on your insurance company’s website that you can use to find a doctor. Get a primary care provider first, and set up an appointment. Then think about other types of health appointments: dentists, eye doctors, and the like.
Your Health, Your Future
There’s more to thinking ahead than just making and remembering appointments. It’s also about your lifestyle!
When you were a kid, you didn’t think much about what you ate or why (or if) you exercised. Now is the time to start considering your health more seriously. Pick up healthy habits and hobbies – start cooking for yourself more. Look into gyms and wellness centers. Become a runner, hiker, biker, or rock climber. Invest in your health up front with regular doctor’s appointments and healthy habits. You don’t want to end up in the hospital down the line – that will mean you’ve had some bad news about your health (and are about to get some more bad news about your finances, once those bills come in!).
We’ve established that thinking ahead means something broader than just making appointments. When it comes to planning for the future, few things are more important than your financial well-being.
That means you’ll want to save some money. Make a budget, and start regularly saving money in a savings account at a credit union or bank (you’ll need a checking account for things like bills, but once you have enough in there, start up a savings account – the interest is better). Do a bit of research on tax-free retirement accounts (your work’s HR department can probably help) and regular brokerage accounts, and start investing when you have enough money to do so. The sooner you start, the richer you’ll be when you grow old!
Bills, bills, bills
Bills are a staple of adulthood, but they’re not as stressful as they seem. If you’re careful with your money and tuck plenty away in your checking and savings accounts, you won’t come up short when the bills arrive. As for remembering to pay them, technology makes this easier: consider setting up automatic payment for your bills (just remember to keep enough cash in your accounts so that you never overdraw). Be careful with credit cards – always pay them off fully, and if you can’t handle the way that credit cards encourage spending, don’t get one!
Adulthood is a Habit
You’ll never be a kid again, and that’s okay – adulthood will become second nature soon enough. Once you’ve gotten used to planning ahead, you may be surprised how quickly things fall into place. Set up automatic billing on your electrical bill once, and you’ll be all set until you move or change banks. Make one appointment with your doctor, and his or her office will likely call you with reminders to show up to your current appointment or make a future one. The longer you do this, the easier it gets – and the more you think ahead, the better your life will be!