The independence and responsibilities that comes with being an adult is overwhelming. While independence is often addicting, the responsibilities–well, most of us try to push that to the back of our heads. Often, the weight of the responsibilities often don’t sink in until we’re in some sort of financial trouble. Many of us (yes, myself included), grow up used to being provided for by someone else, so starting to be financially responsible for our own wants and needs can be somewhat of a foreign concept for many young adults.
Being self-sufficient is a big milestone. It’s something most (f not all) of us constantly strive to achieve. Some strive for this sense of independence in their teens–starting with odd jobs or part-time jobs–while others start after they’re done with school. Regardless, at some point in our lives, we have to learn to fend for ourselves. It’s one of the crucial things that come with learning to be a functioning adult. Yes, Mommy (and/or Daddy) is going to stop giving you money.
Growing up, I was never really obligated to get a part-time job. My family was pretty old school. It was school, University, then work after graduation. Consequently, I wasn’t familiar with how much living expenses cost. It wasn’t until I finally moved out that I realized how expensive it was just to live independently. It can eat away at most of our paycheck just to live comfortably. I don’t even mean luxuriously giving in to every whim!
What I am getting at is that we won’t always have the luxury of being supported by our family. As we become adults, one of our many responsibilities is to start relying on ourselves. We start paying for our own meals, transportation, the things we want. Then we move out–pay for rent, utilities, and a whole lot of other bills. It’s not an easy adjustment. It’s anything but! And the best way to deal with it is by being prepared early.
So where do you start? Start by evaluating, then re-evaluating your lifestyle. Adjust your lifestyle and live within your means. YOURS, not mom’s or dad’s or anyone else’s. Stop being reassured that there will always be someone who will bail you out.
A common mistake that most young adults do is how they spend their first few paychecks. Starting work and earning money is exciting, and many of us, see that paycheck as extra income instead of just an income. Extra meaning on top of the allowance money they still get from the parents. STOP it right there! The whole point of making your own money is to support yourself and be independent. So even if say, you haven’t moved out and have no plans of moving out in the next year, it’s still important to start imagining the money you make as the only money you get to prepare yourself for when you do move out. Just because you still live with your mommy, doesn’t mean you should still depend on her to pay for your expenses while you use YOUR MONEY to buy a new, top of the line laptop, justified because you know, you need it cause you have a 10 month old desktop that just wouldn’t do anymore.
Extra important thing to remember: SAVE MONEY. No matter how much or how little you make, you can never save too much money. As soon as you start earning any money at all, get into the habit of saving a portion of it(NO MATTER HOW LITTLE) so it becomes a habit.
Also, know that it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes, we have to cut ourselves some slack. Even big companies get bailed out, right? Just make sure it’s because you needed the help–not because you wanted to spend on something that your new lifestyle and financial situation cannot afford you anymore.
This is not meant to preach how you should be handling your finances, no. After all, we all have different priorities. These are just a few things I wish I knew before my first few real paychecks. Not that the adjustment is something you can totally be prepared for, but to at least make the transition bearable.
The transition to being a self-sufficient adult is not easy for most of us. It involves sacrifice. We have to re-evaluate our lifestyle and get our priorities straight. How was your experience, learning to be financially responsible? At what age did you start paying for yourself?