During our early twenties, we go from being told that we are an adult to feeling like we are a lost child. We don’t know how to adult just yet. There is a lot about adulthood and the art of adulting that is unknown to us in our early twenties. So when it comes time to start adulting we have little to no idea about where to begin.
This beginner’s guide is your answer to how to adult. It will give you the initial information that you should consider when it comes to adulting 101. So keep reading to learn how to start adulting!
Understand That You Do Have Control
You want to know how to adult? First, understand that YOU have control.
We spend the beginning of our lives being told how to act, where to go, and what to learn. Once we hit adulthood it’s now on us to chart our own path.
Yes, we definitely have the world still screaming at us about what we need to be doing and where we ought to be in life. However, we DO have control over how we decide to proceed.
We are the captains of our ship on this sea of life. How you decide to steer and where you decide to sail is up to you.
The most important thing to realize though is your mindset. The way you view life and its ability to influence your actions is important.
In its most simple form, you can either view yourself as a victim or a hero. Your viewpoint determines if you hold yourself accountable.
Someone who takes the victim mindset believes life happens to them, often placing the blame elsewhere, makes excuses, and avoids taking responsibility. Often someone with this mindset can be heard saying “it’s not my fault”.
The victim mindset focuses on what one cannot control.
The hero mindset, on the other hand, focuses on what you can control.
Someone with a hero mindset sees themselves as the hero or heroine of their own life. They believe that they make decisions that determine how their journey will play out.
They are the captain of their ship.
Having a hero mindset means taking accountability for your life and what happens in it. Instead, of focusing on the things you cannot control, you focus your energy on shaping the life you want through what you can control.
It is no longer okay to blame others for what is happening in our lives. We write our own story.
If life is not going the way you planned, take a step back, re-evaluate, and make a change.
You really do have the power.
Embrace accountability and you will put yourself in a better position to learn how to adult.
Start Managing Your Money With Intention
It is so important to become financially literate. Start learning how to properly manage your money for the present and future. This is arguably one of the hardest parts of adulting, especially in the beginning.
So, what’s the first step in managing your money?
It is learning how to budget. Knowing how to properly budget can be a make-it-or-break-it skill when it comes to adulting.
As I like to say, the best budget is the one that you will actually stick to. Simple as that. Create a budget where you detail your needs and responsibilities and stick to them. But the numbers in the budget are not set in stone. They will change as you re-evaluate your finances periodically and understand how you truly spend your money.
Recognize that your budget is a reflection of your current state in life, and as you progress throughout the months and years, your budget should change to meet your needs. However, this does not mean that you should be breaking that budget every month with the excuse of “things change.”
Remember, your budget is a spending plan that you create for yourself.
You should actively work not to go outside of the budgetary parameters that you create. It will only hinder your financial development.
Now, there are plenty of ways to budget. You can do it by hand with paper and pencil, use excel, or whatever else suits the way you operate. You just have to choose a budgeting method that you will actively use.
If you are like me and want to use software to budget, I use You Need A Budget (YNAB). It is an intuitive and thorough budgeting software that has helped me greatly improve my financial life.
If interested, I have a referral link for a 34-day free trial of YNAB. Yes, it is worth every penny.
BUT if you are looking for a basic excel type budgeting method, I have a FREE excel budget that you can use. Just fill out the form below and you will get it sent straight to your email!
No matter, what you decide to use to budget, the most important step is building one. Of course, the second step is following it!
Start Saving and Investing
Once we know we need to budget, it is important that we include savings as a part of our budget. When we save we are putting money away for later. This could be as simple as putting $20 into a savings account consistently.
One savings account that we should all strive to have is an emergency fund. It is extremely important to have one if you want to build financial independence.
Having investing accounts is the flip side of that coin. You should have investment accounts that are geared toward retirement – like a 401(k) and Roth IRA. Outside of retirement accounts, it is also important to have a regular brokerage account for investing.
I won’t get into much detail here, because I am not a financial advisor.
Regardless, though, start educating yourself about the world of saving and investing. Set financial goals and create a plan for yourself.
Your older self will be so thankful you did.
Build an Emergency Fund
Create an emergency savings fund for yourself. It is a must for proper adulting. 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 a young adult, 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!
Build Your Credit Score
Your credit score can make or break your finances. It is central to your ability to get the things you want, at least in the United States. You need good credit to secure financing for a car, home, furniture, and even 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.
To give a clear idea of just how important your credit score is check out this video below. It explains just how having a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars when it comes to purchasing things like a car or a house.
Manage Your Time So That It’s Beneficial To You
Time is the one thing that we truly cannot get back. Therefore, it is extremely important that we use it wisely. I’m not saying that you should plan out every moment of your day.
I tried doing that, it was horrible, and I always felt overwhelmed. So, I would never suggest it.
However, if that kind of time management works for you then go for it.
Now, I like to do what’s called block scheduling. It allows me to plan out my days by block instead of by task.
This way I have a little more flexibility with my time while staying within parameters to keep me focused.
Either way, you want to be sure to figure out a time management method that is beneficial to you and the goals you are trying to reach.
Plan For Your Future
Now that we are adults, it is up to us to choose our path.
Currently, you are on the path of learning how to adult. But there is more to it than that.
What do you want to do on a daily basis? What do you want to work towards? Are there things that you want to have accomplished in 15 years? These are questions to think about.
You definitely don’t have to have everything figured out now. Anyone that tells you that you do is usually speaking nonsense.
However, it is helpful to have a sense of trajectory in life. So, take the time to sit down and really think about what you want to spend your time and energy on building.
Definitely take the time to learn how to organize your life as a new adult. I talk about this process in detail here.
Build Meaningful Relationships
It is a lot harder to make friends in adulthood. Outside of the workplace, there are very few shared spaces where you naturally meet people – at least nothing comparable to being in grade school or a college campus.
Therefore, it is important to get out and go do things. Meet people.
Everyone is busy with something, so it will take intentional planning to hang out with people.
The days of just meeting up on a whim in the cafeteria or at the campus coffee shop are over.
Likewise, romantic relationships are even harder to build today.
With social media, the increased likelihood of dealing with long-distance relationships, and a myriad of other factors, maintaining a romantic relationship is not a simple task.
It takes a lot of time, energy, commitment, and communication to build a romantic relationship. There’s no easy way or one solution. What works for you and your partner will be unique to you and your partner.
Figuring out what the collaboration looks like is tough. However, if having a romantic relationship is something you value then it’s important to not give up.
No matter what though, build relationships that interest you and help you grow.
Remember To Have Some Fun
This one is simple but can be easily overlooked when learning how to adult. It’s important to have fun. Adulthood sucks enough as it is, but it can be fun. So, don’t remove fun activities from your life. Whatever you enjoy doing, keep at it.
Yes, it is not the best idea to spend your twenties binge drinking from bar to bar, but that doesn’t mean you should never go out.
We all need activities that help us recharge and relax.
Plus, everyone’s definition of fun is unique to them. Bars aren’t really my thing. I find them loud and hot. I’d much rather go enjoy a movie at a theater.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. There is only the question of “What brings you joy?”
Think about it, and go do it.
So, what do you think? Do you know how to adult better after reading this article? Share your thoughts below in the comments!
Best of luck adulting!
Adulting Starts Here
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About The Author
Donald Williams, Jr.
Donald is an avid believer in helping young people prepare for adulthood. He spends his time working on Adulting Starts Here and helping new adults plan for the future. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and going to the beach.