Since the age of 17 when i graduated high school, my parents have treated me as an adult – that means paying rent, paying my own bills and getting myself out of my own shit. Thanks to this, I have learnt some practical life lessons that a lot of my friends haven’t yet navigated their way through. If I was to give any young adult that was heading out into the world somewhat independently some advice, it would be the 5 lessons I’ve put together in this list – enjoy!
Lesson #1 – SAVE YOUR MONEY
If I could give only 1 piece of advice, it would be to save money. Even if you’re not saving for a big trip or a new phone, putting a little money away each week is so rewarding when you see something you want to splurge on and can afford to dig into your savings a wee bit and treat yourself. I work full-time and study full-time, and still manage to save about 40% of my income each week and buy nice things. I have always been a saver, and as an economics student I really see the benefit of saving. I am also a girl though, which means treating myself on a weekly basis. This basically means I work super hard for the money I have, save a heck of it, and can still buy myself nice things here and there.
Lesson #2 – Build credit history
Okay so some of you may not actually know what credit history is, which is fine, however if you are like a lot of 21 year olds who don’t know this foreign concept, then you really need to make an appointment with a financial advisor at your bank. Credit history is basically a record of your responsible repayments of debts – this can be loans, credit cards, phone contracts etc. Building a credit history from when you are young is a great way to gain some financial background for when it comes to loaning out large sums of money, or applying for a high risk credit card when you get older. Easy ways to do this is to repay your phone contract on time, apply for a low-interest, small amount credit card and repay any debt within the allocated time or pay back a small loan within the set time frame. It isn’t hard to build a good credit history, but it’s damn easy to ruin it by missing payments and having debt go to collection agencies (eeek!).
Lesson #3 – Invest in a good car – and learn how to change a tire!
I bought 2 shitty cars before investing in my Suzuki Swift (which I got a loan for when I was 18, and paid back – hello good credit history!!) and have now upgraded to a 2011 Mazda 3. No worrying about breaking down, ongoing costs for upkeep or hefty insurance bills. Oh and did I mention safety? Buying a cheap $1500 car might sound like a good idea at the time, but these are usually older models that come with a tonne of issues and aren’t safe for you to be driving. Consider the way you drive before buying a car (motorways – is your car going to protect you in a high-speed crash?). Obviously not everyone can afford a sparkly new car, but doing some background research on the model before you hand over the cash can save you time and money in the future – both of which are in short supply. At that, learn how to change a tire. Don’t be one of those people stranded on the side of the road at 4am because you couldn’t get the jack in place.
Lesson #4 – Get cooking, good-looking!
Learn. To. Cook. Figure out what you don’t know e.g. how long do potatoes take to cook? Can I eat pink beef? How long can I freeze cooked meals for? And learn the basics! You’d be surprised the amount of 20-somethings that can’t even boil peas – something that should really be taught in schools but whatever. Being able to cook independently means you won’t starve to death if mum or dad is stuck in traffic and won’t be home for another 30 minutes – YAY!
Lesson #5 – Get your own Doctor
Finding a doctor that understands you and your needs is crucial, and sometimes it won’t be the doctor that you’ve been seeing since you were 5 – or the one your mum books you in for. I have an endocrinologist, which is a specialist for my PCOS & endometriosis (feel free to hit up the old Googs) that I found by myself because my regular GP didn’t always understand why I hadn’t got my period in 4 months and the repeated pregnancy tests were getting tiresome. Visiting a GP you trust and feel comfortable with will ensure you get the correct treatment and service you need when you are sick or just have questions!
What are some life lessons you would tell someone turning 18?
Thanks for reading! xo