Turning 18 is a big step in your life. For many cultures, 18 marks the official beginning of adulthood.
Depending on where you live, 18 is the age that you can vote, serve in the armed forces, play the lottery and apply for credit cards. This time in your life is filled with excitement and a lot of nerves as you begin to be faced with a lot of decisions that you need to make for yourself.
Will you continue your education or join the workforce? Will you live with your parents or find an apartment on your own?
All these questions can seem intimidating and a lot of the time you may not feel like you know the right answer. The decisions and choices can be overwhelming, but luckily there are resources and support systems to help you understand how the adult world works.
Whether you are just starting to learn these skills or are a seasoned pro at adult life already, here are four things that become important to your life as you become an adult and beyond.
One of the most important things you learn about as you become an adult is finances.
Depending on your situation, you may learn about the burden of finances much earlier than others. Either way, financial literacy is something that you continue to learn and you may become more experienced with its associated skills the older you get. There are many different stages of life that come with different financial responsibilities.
At 18, you may begin to understand basic income, taxes, and other basic finances. At this age, many people begin to go off to college or technical school, begin an apprenticeship, or begin working right away.
No matter where you are in life at this age, it is important to begin learning about finances and how to manage your money as you begin your journey to an independent life as a young adult.
There are many different financial topics that should be on your mind as you go through this stage of life. You may purchase a secured credit card and begin to build up your credit score, which will make it easier as you get older to make big payments and to get a loan if you need one.
Around this age, you may also begin to think about putting money away into savings or stocks. Throughout your early 20s, you may begin to understand things like student debt and its subsequent interest, car payments, and rent.
In your 20s, you may also begin looking at and understanding insurance, especially if you begin a job and get your insurance plan and your benefits. Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may have additional costs for things like vision or dental. You can also get state insurance if you don’t have insurance given to you by an employer.
These important insurance decisions can come at 18 if you are not on your parents’ insurance, or when you are 26 and are kicked off your parents’ insurance.
If you have a full-time job with benefits, you’ll also most likely choose a retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Sometimes, employers will match your 401(k) contributions. If your employer matches your contributions, this means they will put some money into your retirement plan when you do. Depending on the employer and the matching terms, this may be a partial match of dollar-for-dollar.
At this age, budgeting and spending also become more crucial as you have more monthly payments for things like rent and cell phone bills and begin to pay for necessities that adults in your life may have gotten for you previously.
Learning to budget at a young age can help you begin to save up for big life purchases like cars, houses, or starting a business. The older you get, the more important this will become as you have more payments to make and more necessities to live life comfortably.
Some people find it helpful to keep track of budgeting with a physical cash and envelope system or keep track of purchases digitally. No matter how you budget, it is important to ensure you are always on top of your monthly spending, budget, and other financials.
Budgeting and being mindful of spending also ties into your credit scores, as late payments on your credit card bills can result in a poorer credit score.
Although there are a lot of new financial decisions to make and things to keep in mind, it doesn’t end once you master these skills in your 20s. Even after these stages, there is still much more to learn.
For most people, up until you graduate high school, you get to see your friends and peers nearly every day of the week. You don’t need to dedicate time to communicating with friends because you get to see them every day.
However, as you become an adult and people get jobs, go off to college or travel the world, communication becomes more important, and learning how to communicate becomes vital to maintaining any kind of relationship, whether it be platonic, intimate, or familial.
As things change in life, so do your priorities. For important relationships, it is necessary to dedicate time to reaching out and communicating with the people you are close to. If not, those relationships may end up becoming distant and ultimately ending.
With the newfound freedom of being an adult comes decisions that you are able to make about which relationships are worth maintaining. You may find that a lot of school or workplace relationships are built on face-to-face connections every day, and these relationships may get lower on your priority list as you move into new areas of your life.
Learning to communicate in a timely manner is only one part of maintaining relationships, though. The communication you have with your friends and family needs to be effective and meaningful.
For example, if you make small talk with someone a few days a week, that relationship may never develop into anything deeper. However, if you spend time with that person and engage in more meaningful conversation, there is a greater chance that it could become a lasting friendship.
Any relationship should contain an equal amount of back and forth support and initiation from both people, and if you exhaust yourself trying to preserve a one-sided friendship, it can end up taking a lot of mental energy. Instead, invest your time in people and relationships that have an equal amount of effort on both sides.
3. Work-Life Balance
There is an important balance between life and work that can be hard to get just right. The balance is unique to everyone, and many older adults are still struggling with finding the perfect work-life balance. Many factors go into a perfect balance between your work and personal life, such as the demands put on you at your job, your relationships with those at work, the amount you work, and your mental health.
For example, some people may thrive under pressure and may prefer to spend dedicated days and times doing all their tasks while others like to space it out. If you have a flexible work schedule, you may have get-togethers with friends on weekdays.
The “life” part of work-life balance may be shorter and more frequent, such as happy hours and dinner dates with friends during the week. However, if you have a strict 9-5, you may have more intermittent weekend trips and relaxation days and get your work during the week.
As you learn how to budget your income and the amount of work you must put into your job, you will understand how to best balance work with life. However, it’s important to figure out the perfect balance to ensure you are putting as much effort into yourself and your well-being as you are into your job.
Although this may not seem as important, staying organized as you begin your independent life is extremely important. As you get older, you obtain important documents such as tax documents, legal documents, and credit card statements. Even documents from your childhood, such as your birth certificate and any significant medical records, should be kept and organized when you become an adult so they are not misplaced.
It is important to keep all documentation organized and in a safe place. This may include taking precautions such as putting them in a waterproof container in case of a flood or spill. Organizing documents into different folders and sections as you obtain them will help save you hassle down the road when you need these documents.
Although many things are kept digitally these days, it is still important to make sure you have physical and original copies of important documents and keep them stored away in a safe place.
As you get older, you will continue to learn these skills and become better at prioritizing what you need to. Whether you are 18 or 80, these aspects of life continue to be important.
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Paisley Hansen is a mother of three and a small business owner. She spends her time caring for her children and taking her business to the next level. When she’s not busy working or taking care of her kids, you can find her at the gym or curl up with a good book.