Adulting Checklist: 12 Actions To Become a Responsible Adult

adulting checklist

Are you ready to start taking action to become a responsible adult? Not sure where to start? That is perfectly normal, so don’t worry! Here is your adulting checklist! Just keep reading and you will learn 12 actions that you can take right now to become a responsible adult.

Embrace Accountability

This is first on the adulting checklist for a reason.

At the end of the day, all being an adult ultimately comes down to is embracing accountability. You are in control of your life, what you do, and how you respond to what is done unto you.

Feeling more like an adult means embracing the mentality that you are not the victim of your story but the hero of it. Life does not happen to you.

The power lies within you to take action and change the circumstances of your situation if you do not like them. So, get started!

Be Proactive And Fight Procrastination

A major part of being a responsible adult is being proactive in life. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, don’t wait until the last minute to start. And above all actually start!

Seek out the obstacles that might arise and be proactive in finding solutions for them. A simple example of this is putting money aside for an emergency. It is extremely easy to go into debt and become burdened by it. To help mitigate that possibility, frequently save money that can be used for emergencies. I talk more about emergency funds later so keep reading!

Being proactive also can be just treating yourself with greater care. For example, being proactive today and seeking ways to improve your health through diet and exercise can help you stave off future ailments and medical bills.

Nurturing a proactive mindset is a lifelong quest that can help you avoid many obstacles and therefore allow you to operate as a more responsible adult.

Properly Manage Your Money

It is time to start managing your money like a responsible adult which means prioritizing needs over wants. If you don’t have them already, bills are a staple of adult life. No matter if you live a debt-free life, make $10 million a year, or are just trying to get by, we all have bills to pay.

Managing your bills and other expenses takes care and forward thought. You must ensure that you have the proper tools to help you budget, track your income and spending, and grow your money.

So take the time today to look into tools that can help you better manage your money. I will say that my favorite budgeting software is called You Need A Budget (YNAB). It has undoubtedly been the most integral part of my adulting success so far.

If interested, I have a referral link for a 34-day free trial of YNAB. Click the link to learn more about how YNAB can help you!

Read More: Why YNAB Is My Favorite Adulting Tool

Pay Yourself First

When you get income, always always always pay yourself first. It is the responsible thing to do. It does not matter if it is just $1. Pay yourself first.

As you continue to grow your income, increase the amount that you pay yourself first. Now this money isn’t for spending. Use this money to grow your savings and set yourself up for retirement.

You could start off by paying yourself 10% of any income that you receive. As you become comfortable doing that, try and up that 10% to 20%.

If you couple this with increasing your actual income, you are increasing the amount you can pay yourself even further.

Understand And Build Credit

Having a good credit score is such an overlooked part of being an adult. Developing a good credit score early on helps make being an adult a lot easier.

Your credit can make or break your finances and ability to get the things you want, at least in the U.S. You need good credit to secure financing for a car, home, furniture, heck a phone at a reasonable rate. Otherwise, you will be charged high-interest rates that can cause you to pay more over the life of the financing.

Do you know why?

As alluded to above, it helps you get those milestone items usually at a better rate.

For example, if you are looking to buy a car, a good credit score can be the difference between a high-interest loan and a low-interest loan. That interest can be the difference between you saving or spending an extra $150 dollars a month.

The same goes for buying a house – which translates into thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in difference because of interest. Even if you want to rent an apartment, a credit check will be run before your application is approved.

Heck, when you go to finance a new phone, a credit check is run before you can be approved.

Good credit is essential. It removes a lot of the obstacles that come with transitioning into adulthood. Plus it can help you save money.

Some apps that I use to track my credit score are Mint and CreditWise. They are pretty helpful for the monitoring aspect. CreditWise is actually where I go to simulate how certain things will affect my credit score.

For example, if I am thinking about taking out a loan for a car. I can open the CreditWise app, go to the simulate section, and put in the car loan amount. The app will then show me how that will affect my credit score.

You can simulate other things too, like – opening a new credit card, borrowing money to buy a house, taking out a personal loan, or even paying off credit card debt.

It is a pretty helpful feature, especially for new adults looking to learn how certain milestones will actually affect their credit score.

Create And Fund An Emergency Savings Account

Building up strong emergency savings is a must for anyone who wants to be a responsible adult. The earlier you start, the better and easier it will be. Waiting until later in life to develop this fund means you will need to save more because you will probably have more responsibilities as you grow older. As a young adult though, you probably only have to take care of yourself, so your expenses won’t be as high compared to when you have a mortgage and a family. So start building now little by little.

If you do not know anything about emergency funds, I wrote a detailed article here explaining how to get started developing your emergency savings account. Check it out!

Look Into A Roth IRA

Just as it is important to budget and save, it is also important to put money towards a Roth IRA. That money is important for retirement and can be a major factor in how well you can live during retirement.

And what is more responsible than taking action to set yourself up for a successful future retirement?

Yeah, exactly. This is a long-term adulting checklist item. And a powerful one.

Because Roth IRA contributions are after-tax, you get to withdraw the money in retirement completely tax-free.

The annual contribution limit on a Roth IRA is much lower than other retirement accounts. For anyone under 50 years old, the max you can contribute is $6,000. While anyone over 50 can contribute $7,000.

Everyone is not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. Who can contribute is based on your income. Check here to see if you qualify.

Note: I am not a financial advisor, nor am I giving explicit financial advice here or anywhere on the blog. This is for educational and entertainment purposes. Do your own due diligence before making any financial decisions.

Learn How To Do Your Taxes

Don’t overlook this on your adulting checklist or you might end up in jail.

You should take the time to learn about how to properly do your own taxes. Learning about this subject helps improve your financial literacy but also can help you save on taxes in the future.

Plus, as a responsible adult, you have to pay them yearly. You might as well take action and learn how taxes work.

If interested, I have an article titled “5 Tax Hacks That Could Save You Thousands”. It dives into tax advantage opportunities and other avenues to help maximize your earnings. Be sure to check it out.

Organize Your Life

If you want to be a more responsible adult, you need to have some type of organization in your life. From this organization, you can more easily build healthy habits that promote growth and security.

Plus, it will be difficult to apply the adulting checklist if you do not organize your life.

I have actually written an article that dives deeper into what steps you can take to get your life organized as an adult. The article is titled “How to Organize Your Life As A New Adult”.

Resist Impulse Buying

Just as it is important to budget it is also important to resist impulse buying, especially at the expense of your budget. Impulse buying if left unchecked can really wreck your financial standings.

Don’t overlook this on your adulting checklist. It can easily make or break you.

A tip I have been following for a while now to help myself resist impulse buying is waiting 24 hours and saving up twice the cost. Once I do both those things and I still want the item then I will buy it. Often though, I no longer want the item. Unless it is dealing with food… I love my food!

Plan Your Next Steps For Life And Career

As a young adult, we are about to hit that time in our life where we are expected to have some type of plan for ourselves. While there is no need to have our life figured out immediately, it is important to have some goals set for yourself. So, take the time to reflect on where you are in life and where you want to be. Then start planning your next steps to close that gap.

Remember that it is the consistent small moments of progress that later turn into major developments.

Plan, begin, adjust, and stay committed. As you grow your adulting checklist will mature along with you.

Practice Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification is such an important skill to practice to become a responsible adult. Understanding how to resist the pull of immediate rewards in pursuit of more long-term gains is essential. More so, it is powerful.

I would actually argue that delayed gratification is the most underrated skill a person can have.

So, what is delayed gratification?

It is exactly what it sounds like – delaying gratification to a later date. Now, you might be thinking that it sounds like you will be denying yourself things, and you deserve to have things. So why in the world would someone do this?

But I would like to challenge that question. To make this more of a concrete conversation, let’s apply an example.

A classic example of delayed gratification is you tell a kid he can have a cookie now or two cookies later if he waits to eat the cookies. For a kid that loves chocolate chip cookies – putting a fresh, soft, oven-melted chocolate chip cookie in front of him will be very compelling. He very well might eat that cookie right then and there, giving in to what is called immediate gratification.

He’s not thinking that he could have two cookies later if he waits. His eyes see the gratification he can get from the cookie that is right in front of him and he wants to feel that gratification right then and right there.

Without getting to existential, this is how much of our human existence goes. We seek gratification in various manners, often on impulse.

Let us jump back to the kid and cookie example.

If the kid waits until later to eat the cookies he can have two of them. Two is definitely better than one in this case.

And arguably he might enjoy those two cookies more than he could have enjoyed that first one purely because he had the self-restraint to wait and get more later – and he would know that.

Now, a kid probably is not thinking about self-restraint or being proud of it. But the example still holds as a method to explain delayed gratification.

As an adult, mastering delayed gratification might help you turn your life into a marathon rather than a sprint. It’s something I work on every day.

Focusing on delayed gratification has allowed me to play my long game better, see more pathways in life, and get more out of what I do.

So what do you think? Is this a helpful adulting checklist? What would you add to the adulting checklist? Let us know in the comments below!

Best of luck adulting!

And Remember,

Adulting Starts Here

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