Recently, I asked my Instagram followers: “What’s something no one prepared you for as an adult?” Thinking I would get just a few responses about how expensive groceries are and how summer vacations don’t exist anymore, I was stunned by how many totally relevant topics they came up with! My inbox was flooded with conversations that were SO similar to the ones my husband and I discuss all the time. Taxes, investing, buying a house…. let me tell ya, we are ALL in the same boat. No one knows what the HECK we’re doing because life didn’t come with a manual. Though if it did, I’m certain it would be a best seller.
While this blog’s main focus is to share in the common laments of our generation, it also opened the floodgate for a lot of great questions about each of these topics. For many of the topics listed below, I will be working with some awesome folks who are clearly more qualified than I am in these areas to create some Not-So-Adulting Guides for ya. So, if you’re in the market to buy a house, want some tips on investing as a twenty-something or want to manage your work-life balance better, stay tuned for those guides on the blog in the near future!
For now, enjoy me complaining about how hard it is to be an adult. 😉
1. The 9-5 Work Day
First off, I want to know who actually only works from 9 AM to 5 PM. I honestly think that’s a myth! That’s 8 hours with no break. Count a 30 minute lunch? 7.5 hours. I don’t know about you, but I put in much more than 7.5 hours a day, and more than 40 hours a week.
Second, working this much consecutively is tough for a lot of people after graduation. It’s very different from your college schedule where you had a 4 hour gap in the middle of the day to do whatever you wanted (and somehow STILL didn’t have class on Fridays). Now, you’re likely getting up much earlier and working to get everything done in the few hours you have left in the day once you get home… bringing me to point #3!
Someone once told me that being adult was “cool” because you didn’t have to do homework anymore. UMMM YES YOU DO. It’s just called HOUSEWORK instead. Yep, trade your Econ homework for dishes, laundry, taking your dog to the vet, cooking dinner and more. Trying to fit in a workout or a social life? Good luck, buddy! Once you get home from work, the rest of your day is toast. And honestly, no matter what you do or how much you love your job, I guarantee that there are days that you want to come home, eat your feelings and burrow under the covers until Saturday rolls around. Be gentle, y’all, we’ve all been there and we’ll get through this together.
2. Buying a House
From the outside, buying a home sounds easy. You look at houses for sale, you say “I like that one,” then you give some people some money and then it’s yours. Right? Oh god, so wrong. So, so wrong. Once you start throwing around words like escrow, appraisals, closing costs, PMI and more, most people are completely lost. And, rightfully so!
Wouldn’t it be nice that if instead of learning algebra or geometry in school, we learned about useful things like home loans? Also, someone should have told us that down payments are so dang expensive so we could have started saving earlier! Hindsight, man. Anyway, I will definitely be diving into the nitty gritty of buying a home, so stay tuned for that!
3. Taxes Shmaxes
Taxes, can’t live with them, can’t believe how much money you’d have in your bank account without them. What the heck even are they and how do they work? How do you file your own taxes? WHEN should you start filing your own taxes? These are all questions I will be diving into deeper in a future blog post.
“But Abbey, why would you want to write about taxes? That’s so boring!” GUYS. If we have to be adults and do adulty things, we’re going to do them TOGETHER.
PS: I literally Googled: “What does a millennial need to know about taxes?”
4. Your Health, Your Problem
What do you mean my mom can’t make my doctor’s appointments for me anymore? Talking about health in our 20s is difficult. Not just because we’re all new to health insurance and navigating how to take care of ourselves, but because we all deal with very different health issues.
While we’re supposed to be young, vibrant and healthy in our 20s, there are so many 20-somethings that deal with chronic illness, injuries, surgeries, mental health problems and more. If you struggle with an ongoing health-related issue, you know how expensive (and important) your health insurance and primary/specialized care is!
Plus, for those who are considered in good health, you still have the internal battle with yourself every time you’re sick: “Is it worth it to go to the doctor’s? They’re just going to tell me to rest.” “Should I even get a flu shot? It doesn’t work anyway.” These are arguments I have with myself EVERY dang time I’m feeling under the weather. Most of the time I say f*@k it, and stay at home feeling miserable for a few days. Anyone else??
First off, there is insurance for EVERYTHING. Your health, your car, your life, your pet, your furniture, your electronics. Everything. I guess we as a human race have an innate fear that things could fall apart at any moment, and when that happens, we like to be prepared.
For example, you get in a little fender bender, you have insurance so you’re covered, right? Eh, it’s tricky. Let’s say you get hurt and you need an MRI. You think your health insurance will cover most of the cost until you get an $800 bill from the doctor’s office. Hello?! Don’t they know we’re poor?!
Trying to understand your health insurance or your car insurance, or whether you need life insurance seems nearly impossible. There are pages and pages of terms and conditions and confusing words like deductible and liability. If you feel like you’re not quite sure what you signed up for when it comes to insurance, you are not alone!
In a future blog post, we’ll take a look into what you’re really getting when you pay for insurance and how to save your butt when it comes down to using it.
6. Saving For Retirement
When I got my first full time job, my dad said “always pay yourself first.” Then, he reminded me and reminded me and reminded me…. Pay. Yourself. First. I’ve always been a natural saver, but saving for a retirement was a different story!
When you’re 22 and just graduated from college, you think about retirement as being sooo far away. (Oh god, I’ll be sooo old! I’ll have wrinkles!) But guys, life moves fast. It’s better to plan for the future than get to retirement age and realize you can’t afford to retire.
According to AARP, the average American needs $1 to $1.5 million dollars to retire comfortably. That’s a LOT of money. Makes sense to start saving now, right? RIGHT. Even if you think you can’t save, there are ways to make every penny work for you.
I’ll be getting into 401Ks, IRAs, and other saving techniques in a future blog post.
So, the thought of investing gives me heart palpitations. Probably because I’m putting someone else in charge of my money and I have no idea what the heck goes on after that. Andrew and I are experimenting with some moderately conservative investments and it stresses me the heck out.
“What are you doing with my money?” “Why did I lose $13 this month?” These are questions I need simple answers to, but I feel like I never get that! There was a reason I was a journalism major in college… because my brain literally can’t do math. I want my investor to explain things to me as if I was a second grader. Like, I don’t need a drawn out explanation of dividends and volatility of the market, just give it to me straight, Wolf of Wall Street!
The complexity of investing makes 20-somethings not want to invest, when in reality, it can be a beneficial way to diversify your portfolio and make more money. Join me in a future post as I dive into a Millennial’s Guide to Investing.
8. Credit Cards
Growing up, you’re constantly warned about the danger of credit cards. “It’s spending money you don’t have!” “You’ll go into debt!” While all those things are the real deal and happen every day, no one ever told us about the importance of that ol’ FICO credit score.
Having a credit card and paying it off every month is imperative to establishing a credit history and building your score, so you can eventually have good enough street cred with the bank to buy a house or a car, or even get lower interest rates on loans. Plus, there are many credit cards that offer amazing rewards, such as travel points or cash back. I’ll be diving deeper into the art of using a credit card in a later post. For now, my advice to you is apply for a credit card with a low interest rate, spend wisely and ALWAYS pay off your balance at the end of the month. And know what your dang credit score is, people! It’s important.
9. Student Loans
Oh lawwdy, the dreaded student loans. Raise your hand if you have ’em and hate ’em. Unfortunately, student loans are a reality for the majority of college graduates. According to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400, up six percent from the previous year. It’s funny how we have to go to college to get a good job to pay for said college for the rest of our lives. Doesn’t seem right, huh? Plus, more than 1 million people will default on their student loans this year, meaning people can no longer afford to pay them back and their information is turned over to a collections agency.
So, what are some strategies to paying them off? Should you consolidate them? How long will it take to pay them off? Stay tuned. I’ll be finding out the answers to these burning questions!
10. Maintaining Friendships
In college, it’s easy to have friends because you saw them ALL THE TIME. Whether you were catching up between classes, going to the bars on a Thursday night or crafting for your sorority, you had so much more free time to spend with your besties than you do right now. After graduation, everyone’s lives changed. People moved away, got full-time jobs, got married and even had kids. <— and never in the same order as you!
In addition to everyone’s crazy schedules and different life stages, you also have to factor in how completely. freaking. exhausted. people are when they get home from work. We mean well when we make plans with people, but honestly, grabbing drinks on a Thursday night (which used to be a weekly occurrence in college) turns into an obligation sometimes. That’s not to say that we don’t love our friends either! It just means that we all work super hard and sometimes, we just need to recharge along with a pint of Halo Top ice cream.
That being said, I will be writing a blog post on maintaining friendships post-grad. Not because I’m good at it, in fact, I’m really bad at it!! But we’ll learn together, friends.
Did I miss any big ones? Do you want to see one of these turned into a Not-So-Adulting Guide? Contact me here or DM me on Instagram with your suggestions. Until then, keep on keepin’ on my millennial brethren! Remember, we’re all in this together.