Adulting is hard. So, it’s super tempting to try to stay a kid as long as you can.
But in reality, we start to enter adulthood at the age of 18 and it happens with or without our permission. Whether you’re living in your parents’ house, in college or out on your own with a full-time job, you’re on your way to becoming an adult.
It’s time to start acting like one.
But the good news is that you can still keep many of your childlike ways – as long as you’re making smart life choices along the way.
No one expects you to live like a middle-aged parent when you’re barely out of high school. But you should know that your choices now will impact the rest of your life.
Here’s why you should make smart life choices when entering adulthood.
You technically are an adult
In all prior years, you had some leeway. Break a minor law, and your criminal record could be expunged. But as an adult, any criminal activity (no matter how minor) will follow you throughout your life. You probably don’t plan on breaking any major laws, but even small things like trespassing can really impact your adult life – long after you’ve lived through your wild days.
You’re still at risk of addiction
When you make the transition from your teenage years into adulthood, you may not be done with your experimental phase. And you may know that you have an increased risk of developing an addiction when you abuse drugs as a teen. But you’re not out of the woods as a young adult. In fact, the part of your brain that’s responsible for decision-making isn’t fully developed until somewhere around the age of 25.
If you find that you’re having trouble cutting back or quitting alcohol or illicit substances, seek addiction treatment to help you right away. This is a crucial time in your life, and the longer you remain addicted, the more difficult it will be to turn your life around.
And if you haven’t abused drugs until now, it’s not the time to start. You have more productive things to do with your life now that you’re an adult.
Your financial future begins now
When you’re between the ages of 18 and 21, you’re probably not thinking too hard about retirement. But you don’t have to. All you have to think about is the type of life you’d like to live. Do you want to struggle or be financially independent?
Even if you’re making $12 an hour as a barista, you can probably store away a few bucks into savings. This is especially true if you’re still living with your parents. Save as much money as you can now, so you can start putting your money to work in adulthood.
Here’s an example:
If you take home $11/hour, and work 40-hours per week, you’ll make $440/wk. and about $1,760/mo. Plan to put half of that ($880) towards living expenses and other necessities. In many places, this would mean renting a room or a studio apartment.
Twenty percent goes to savings. That’s $352/mo.
And the rest ($528) goes towards whatever you want beyond necessities, including entertainment.
This is the 50/20/30 rule. You can try other breakdowns that work for you, but try to save at least 20 percent monthly. In this example, even if your income doesn’t increase by a dime, you could have $20 thousand in the bank after 5 years.
So, if you start at 18, you’ll have 20 grand by your 23rd birthday. And that’s when you can start putting your money to work for you. Invest in an interest-bearing account and watch your money multiply. But don’t stop saving.
If you’re smart about your money when you’re young, you can ensure a much more fruitful life as an adult.
You may not feel like an adult yet, and that’s okay. But now is the time to start making smart choices to ensure that you have a bright future ahead. If you want to be fit and healthy in all areas of life, take care of them individually, and start while you’re young. You don’t want to live with regrets.