By Kadejah Brathwaite
You know that feeling when you are enjoying a cold treat on a hot summer day and a little fly decides it wants to take a seat on your ice cream? Or that feeling when you see the waitress with hot, sizzling plates stacked on her arm, but she passes your table leaving you with the mouthwatering scent of someone else’s food? Or what about that feeling in the morning when you’re about to munch on a nice, crunchy bowl of cereal and you open your fridge only to find out that there’s no more milk?
I can compare those feelings to what it felt like when I realized this whole adulting thing was what I desired but was nothing like what I expected. From learning how to schedule my own doctor appointments to realizing that car insurance is actually really expensive, here are three “grown-up” things I’ve learned in my five years of being an adult.
Budgeting: Tell yourself what to do with your money.
When my dad told me about budgeting, I scratched my head. Handling money seems like it should be an easy concept but calculating your monthly expenses and limiting your spending takes a lot of willpower. What I learned is that I make a lot more money than I actually spend responsibly.
Forbes has an article with helpful budgeting practices that I often use.
Saving: How much money should be put aside?
I learned the importance of saving when I unexpectedly got a flat tire and had to buy a new one on the spot. Every two weeks when a direct deposit hits your account is an opportunity for you to make a choice. You can say, “YOLO” (you only live once) and splurge in the nearest mall or you can check your bi-weekly income and put a reasonable percentage of it away. Saving not only allows you to invest in your life, but it allows you to have financial freedom to afford things when emergency situations occur.
Credit cards: An endless supply of money, right?
What I wish I had known before I went to college is that while credit cards seem like a waterfall of money, every penny spent has an interest rate. The $12 burger you buy can turn into a $50 meal, if you’re not careful. After some irresponsible spending and the understanding that banks are not gentle with late fees and interest rates, I learned to not use my credit card so frivolously.
Another tip: Before making a purchase, I ask myself if the product is a necessity. If you don’t need it immediately, you can probably wait until you’ve saved up enough money to pay for it in cash without having to swipe your credit card.
Ultimately, growing up has shown me the Do’s and Don’ts of adulthood. But, if I could add one more nugget of wisdom to this trio of things I’ve learned, I would say that it is okay to make mistakes. How you choose to improve after your mistake is what really matters.