As a child, you probably couldn’t wait to grow up and get out of the house any time your parents wouldn’t let you go to play, stay up late, eat a ton of candy, etc. As a teenager, you probably couldn’t wait to get out of the house in general. Once you finally left, though, you probably realized just how complicated growing up can be and wished you could go back to when things were simpler and your mom still made all of your appointments for you.
There are a lot of things to do and remember after you become an independent adult, and it can be overwhelming to think about all at once. Luckily, life usually goes in stages, and not everything hits at the same time. Still, it feels as though there’s always something more you can and should be doing.
- The basics. These should all go without saying, but they’ll be covered as a formality anyway. Responsible adults know they should always take care of their bodies – shower and bathe, brush their teeth, wear deodorant, brush their hair, dress in clean clothes, eat regular (and preferably healthy) meals, visit the doctor, get enough sleep, and… well, you get the idea.
- Get a job. When just starting out, you may not have the opportunity to jump into the career of your dreams. Some jobs are a real drag to work, but responsible adults know there will always be days that are tougher than others. Besides, you’ll want to have money to take care of the basics and other things you might need, since there’s no allowance anymore. That said, it’s also important to know when you’re being taken advantage of and overworked and need to find a new job.
- Have reliable transportation. Just like you might not be able to get your dream job right away, you might not be able to get the car you want right after you leave home, either. Being a responsible adult doesn’t mean you have the nicest and fastest car on the block. In fact, it might not mean having a car at all. If you’re able to afford a car and it goes from point A to point B reliably, great! If not a car, then having a bike, bus pass, or some other form of reliable and transportation is important. You can’t always be calling up your buddies begging for rides at the last minute once you’re a grown-up.
- Have insurance. Insurance can cost a lot of money, and it’s sometimes tempting to justify not having it by saying that you hardly, if ever, need it. Responsible adults know that it’s better to be safe than sorry, though. You never know when you’ll get into a car accident — whether it be your fault or the other driver’s — or when you’ll have a medical emergency like a broken bone or appendicitis.
- Maintain good credit. You can’t really get anything without having credit these days, and a lot of places even offer financing options for people whose credit is poor. Responsible adults know it’s important to have good credit because it results in the opportunity for better interest rates, which can save you a lot of money. Everyone’s credit suffers from time to time, sometimes through no fault of their own, but if you’re successfully adulting you know what your credit score looks like and what resources to turn it should you need to repair your credit score.
- Live in good housing. Housing is a basic necessity everybody needs. Responsible adults know good housing doesn’t need to be their own house or apartment or something that looks like it belongs in Pottery Barn magazine. Good housing is something that provides shelter from the elements, comfort, and privacy. That may means having your own house or apartment, but it could also means just having your own room in a house with friends or other roommates.
- Know the rules. Ignorance might be bliss, but it won’t stop you from going to jail, having to pay fines, or being written up for violations you commit. Responsible adults know that if they’re going to invest in cryptocurrency, for example, they need to know what the SEC’s regulations are and how they apply to the transaction. While it may not be necessary for you to know what the laws surrounding importation are off the top of your head, you will need to understand (and obey) the rules and regulations pertaining to your everyday life or any major decisions you make.
- Make investments. Speaking of investments, there are so many options available these days that there’s really no reason for any responsible adult to not be building some kind of portfolio. Everyone should be regularly contributing to their 401k, for example, as well as investing in any life insurance coverage or other financial security for loved ones. You don’t have to stay up to date on all the latest hedge fund news or become a Wall Street news junkie in order to make some savvy investments, you just have to take steps to inform yourself about long-term financial moves.
- Have a plan for the future. Sometimes the only thing you can do is take life one day at a time, but responsible adults know it’s important to have a plan for the future (that’s why they have those 401ks, remember?). If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never be able to get there. Whether your future plans involve buying a house, starting a family, earning a graduate degree, or something else entirely, having a plan is critical to making sure those things happen for you. Having a plan also means preparing for any roadblocks by doing things like having savings set aside in case of unemployment, unexpected illness, or other troubles.
- Visit home. Although growing up, moving out, and becoming a responsible adult means a lot of things, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t go back home to visit. Truly grown-up adults know they probably wouldn’t be where they are without the help, encouragement, and support they received from their loved ones back home. Adults love the sentimental stuff!
Despite the difficulties of being an adult, going out on your own is a necessary part of life that offers a lot of satisfaction, like overcoming obstacles you thought you couldn’t conquer, managing your own schedule, establishing a career, buying the car you want, falling in love, and so much more. Even if you only have one or two of the things on this list down, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a responsible adult, since responsible adults also know that all good things come in time.
What is one of the hardest things you’ve had to accomplish since leaving home? How do you feel about it now?