Lessons For the Newly Adult

Rather than give you another list of adult advice like, “Dance like no one’s watching,” here’s some wisdom you can actually use.

Bleach kills clothes: No matter how careful you are, you WILL get bleach on your favorite blouse when trying to clean the mold off bathtub caulk. If you’re cleaning with bleach, do it in clothes you REALLY don’t care about or in the nude.

Shit is EXPENSIVE: Anything you do will have a hidden cost. Cars need repairs. Pets need the vet. And food. Your friend wants to go to the expensive restaurant. Have extra cash. Or don’t get the pet.

Buy a used car: You know what’s a waste of money? A car. Buy it used. Try to pay cash or as close as you can get. Drive it until it dies and you hate it.

No one remembers what you wear: You know how you look at your closet and you are sick of EVERYTHING and then you run to Target to buy some cheap crap? People aren’t sick of your clothes. So save the money.

Take the days off: You get 10 days of PTO (if you’re lucky). Use them. They are part of your benefits package. Not taking them is like giving money back to your employer.

Say no. A lot. At a younger age, I said yes to everything. Need the TPS reports by Monday, 8 a.m.? Sure! You know what? You can say no. You have a life. You’re probably not going to paid anymore for working your ass off. Unless you’re hourly. In which case: OVERTIME BITCHES!

Don’t buy a house: MANY will disagree with me on this one, but so many of my friends bought houses in their early 20s right when the housing boom was at its peak. And now they have no money. Those who didn’t lose all their money are trapped by roof repairs, flooded basements, and black mold. If you rent, you don’t need to worry about that shit.

Don’t set engagement ultimatums: Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but generally don’t. Just don’t. If your significant other is dragging their feet after 4.5 years, just walk away. To put it another way: he’s just not that into you if he won’t shit or get off the pot.

Save your money: Really, if it’s just $50 a month into your 401K, do it. The money you save at 20, however small the amount may be, is worth way more than what you save at 30, 40, or 50. It’s called compound interest.

Cultivate small pleasures: Life sucks most of the time. Take bubble baths. Start a beer-making habit. Learn to cross-stitch. These will help save your sanity.

What did you expect? Life’s not a bowl of cherries: This was one of my grandma’s favorite things to say. Basically, life is shit sometimes, but you’ve got food in your belly and a roof over your head. She was a child of the Great Depression so her idea of what is a good life is very different from our luxurious lifestyle, but it’s still good advice.

So what are your untold adult secrets?

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[E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

18 thoughts on “Lessons For the Newly Adult”

  1. On the used car advice: BE CAREFUL. It is cheaper right now, in some cases, to buy a new car. For some reasons (at least in Northern Indiana) the price of a used car has skyrocketed. Sure, it’s cheaper RIGHT NOW, but you only get to drive it for half the time as you would a new car and there aren’t nearly as many guarantees. Use your basic math skills and price it out. [Present Cost]/[How Long It Will Live] + [Inevitable Repairs] = Real Cost Over Time. That having been said, I’ve been driving my 1999 Mercury Sable since I bought it in 2008 for $3500, and have only put about $1200 into it for REALLY necessary repairs.

    And the hidden cost thing. That shit will get you EVERY TIME. Credit cards are only for those emergency hidden costs, NOT for day-to-day life.

    1. Agreed on the used car advice. My previous car was a little POS Saturn. It had 90,000 miles when I bought it, cost just under 4,000, and I drove that thing for 9 years with little trouble. I’d probably still have it if I didn’t have to make regular cross-country trips.

      When I went to buy my current car, I was dead set on buying another used car. I searched high, low, and far…and was REALLY disappointed by the prices. They were disgustingly high. So high, that I began to rethink my used car mentality. And after more searching and a lot of math, I found myself buying a new car…something I had sworn I would never do!

      The used car advice is good advice, but I think what’s more important is to be flexible (even with your own advice) and to consider all of your options before making a big purchase. In other words, never say never.

  2. -All adult relationships suck occasionally. The good ones don’t suck too much, and involve two partners trying to make them such less. All that “perfect forever romance” stuff is crap. The good news? The adult relationship is better than the “perfect forever romance” and usually involves more laughing.

    -Take care of yourself. Not just in a eat healthy/be active way (though that’s good) but the fact is your body at 27 can’t handle life the way your body at 17 could. Adjust and adapt accordingly, and you will be much happier for it.

    -Possibly in direct opposition to the above (but what the hell) – never stop goofing around, going out with your friends, and having fun. If nothing else, the people around you will really appreciate it.

    1. The take care of yourself is very, very important. I cannot handle the party lifestyle that a lot of people here engage in because I’m a bit older than most. So I go out, have fun, but then go home at a decent time (for here). I’m healthier for it.

  3. I cannot agree enough with starting a retirement account when you think you’re way too young to worry about it. My contributions at 34 are worth about half of what they would have been at 24. Even if it’s $20 a paycheck, it’s something. Compound interest is magic.

  4. -Don’t live off of your credit cards. You will spend years and waste time you could have used doing other things paying them off.

    – Do not chase after people. Do not try and be someone you’re not to make people like you, think you’re cool etc. Be you and be awesome at it. People who will be good for you will find their way into your life. It may be a lot of people or it may just be a few, but they’ll be good for you.

    – I completely co-sign buying a used car.

      1. I finally paid mine off this year and I had to move and work overseas to do it. I wasn’t even in that much debt compared to others, but I let it get delinquent and my credit is shot. I now have a credit card, but I don’t put anything on it I can’t pay off in one or two payments.

  5. Yes all the things above. Also:

    –Similarly to Sally: don’t waste your time on people you don’t really like.

    –Go for a walk. Whether you live in the city or in the middle of nowhere, go somewhere and walk a little slower than you otherwise might.

    –People don’t care. Not in a “you’re insignificant” sort of way, but a “you think other people think A or B about you, or expect that you have to be like X, but you’re wrong. it’s in your head. no one cares. do what you want.” sort of way.

    –Know that you are awesome. Hands down. No lie.

  6. This is probably really specific, but since my job has required me to wear all black for the last, um, fifteen years, I’d add “no one cares if your black clothes don’t match.” I spent several years only pairing the bluish blacks with each other, and the cottons together so the fade would be the same, etc., and now I realize that not only does no one else give a fuck, but neither do I.

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