Adulting 101: 4 Essential Tips for Navigating Life’s Challenges

Growing up, you probably dreamed of the day you’d be an adult. The freedom was enticing — you could eat ice cream for dinner. The money seemed powerful — you could buy any toy you wanted. …

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Growing up, you probably dreamed of the day you’d be an adult. The freedom was enticing — you could eat ice cream for dinner. The money seemed powerful — you could buy any toy you wanted. The knowledge would be enlightening — you’d finally be old enough to talk about things you couldn’t when you were “too young.” But then you grew up.

While being an adult comes with benefits, there’s no shortage of challenges. From learning about bills and health insurance to dealing with car troubles and balancing priorities, it’s a lot. Follow these tips to be better equipped to handle whatever adult life may throw your way.

1. Create a Home Routine

One of the best parts of adulthood is choosing your living situation. You can be downtown in the middle of everything or a bit further away with more space. You can live alone or with friends. You can rent or put down roots and invest in a home you own. However, living on your own can also be one of adulthood’s biggest responsibilities. Bills, cleaning, maintenance — it’s a lot.

Luckily, creating a home routine can help. Start by thinking through the recurring tasks you need to complete to keep up your home. Then, assign those tasks to certain days each week. Mondays can be for washing linens and vacuuming, and Tuesdays can be for washing clothes and cleaning bathrooms. Continue this process until every chore is covered.

Don’t forget to factor paying your expenses into your routine too. Jot down your regular bills so you know when they’re due, and add those dates to your calendar. As you get used to the cadence of money coming in and going out, update your household budget. Avoid overspending, and see where you can cut back. You might consider dedicating time to researching home insurance quotes or utility providers to make sure you’re getting the best price. Although it takes time to get into a routine, having your household responsibilities covered is worth the effort.

2. Fight Procrastinating the Big Stuff

Being an adult means being in charge of every aspect of your life. You get to determine when you go to sleep, what you eat, and how often you work out (or not). But it’s not all fun and games. You’re also responsible for less fun tasks that are easy to put off, which is precisely why you shouldn’t.

Think of the few obligations you despise. It could be scheduling doctor’s appointments or doing your taxes. It might be investing in your 401(k) or applying for credit. Add your least favorite, most procrastinated tasks to a list and work out a plan to tackle them. Hate taking money out of your checking to contribute to retirement? Automate it. If a little money goes in automatically each month, you don’t have to worry about taking it out yourself.

If you dislike booking appointments, keep them on a schedule. Tell your doctor’s and dentist’s receptionists to book you every year for a checkup. Being proactive about these significant responsibilities will make your life a lot easier. Instead of feeling the weight of what you’ve yet to do, you can celebrate getting ahead. And that’s one way you can win at adulting.

3. Plan for the Unexpected

As much as you can try to think of everything, life won’t always go according to plan. Pipes burst, tires pop, and kids unfortunately get sick. However, with some thinking ahead, you can put yourself in the best situation possible when life throws you curveballs.

One way to prepare is by establishing an emergency fund. This lump sum of money has a general purpose of being used for unexpected costs. The idea is that you contribute a set amount each month and have a bit of cash to fall back on in times of need. That way, if you need to spend outside of your normal budget, you have funds available.

While no one ever wants to deal with an emergency, it’s always easier when you feel somewhat prepared. Remember that your fund doesn’t have to be extensive or stretch you too thin. Make it a habit to save as much as you can each month. Eventually, you’ll have a decent sum to use when you need it.

4. Invest in Relationships of All Kinds

When you’re in high school, it’s fairly easy to balance relationships with friends, a romantic partner, and your loved ones. Then, as time passes and your schedule fills up, it gets a little harder. Slowly but surely, you find yourself struggling to keep up with everything you have going on. And that’s one of the downsides of adulthood.

Overcome the dreaded loss of relationships by regularly devoting time to each one. Call your siblings once a week and get dinner with family once a month. Dedicate Fridays to date nights and Sunday brunches to catching up with friends.

Ultimately, the point is to invest time and energy into every important relationship instead of focusing on one alone. That investment leads to a happier, more balanced life. You’ll also naturally create a support system you can rely on when times get tough, which is so important the older you get.

Adult Away!

Being an adult is likely not all it was cracked up to be when you were a kid. You eat way more salads than ice cream for dinner, and you have to work to have money to buy things. You learned that adult conversations aren’t as juicy as they seemed to be. But the possibilities that come with adulthood? Those are worth it, even if it means dealing with the less fun stuff.

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