The transition to adulthood can be fraught with tough lessons and challenges. Most people find their 20s to be some of their hardest years. But this period of growth is also exciting, as many revel in the chance to embrace their independence and figure out who they are and what they’re going to do with their lives. If the idea of being an adult freaks you out, know that you’re not alone and that there is free guidance out there if you know where to look for it. Here we offer a good starting point.

Embrace your independence

Find a place you can afford

One of the first steps to true independence is to move out of your parents’ house – though this is realistic only if you can afford it. Be honest with yourself: you probably won’t afford your own place immediately. Despite probably having more money than you’ve ever had before, you need to be careful (and rational) with how you spend it. Once you add up all your costs –  such as groceries, toiletries and data –  you’ll realise that you don’t have as much disposable income as you thought you had. With this in mind, it would be best to keep your rent to a minimum. 

Even if you opt to stay with your parents to save money, you should consider contributing towards certain bills, such as rent or groceries. Even if you continue to live at home, you would want to exercise your independence as much as possible by contributing to expenses. This way, you won’t feel like you’re sponging off your parents and you’ll start developing good financial habits (like budgeting).

Do things yourself

You’ll find that taking your washing to the laundromat every week can become expensive. Learn basic domestic skills such as ironing, doing the laundry and cleaning the house as soon as you can. And while you’re at it, see how you fare in the DIY department. Learning to do these basic tasks yourself could save you time, money and admin in the long-term.

Learn to manage your money

Learning to manage your finances while you are young gives you a distinct advantage later in life. Learn how to draw up and stick to a budget, and then use this to start saving for your short-, mid- and long-term goals. You should also start an emergency fund as soon as possible. This is a fund you keep aside for unexpected expenses that can sometimes catch you off guard. The better you equip yourself for your future now, the more financially secure and stress-free that future will be.

Figure out your goals

Plan for the long-term

It’s important to set life goals as they will give you focus and motivation when times are hard. Initially, it’s good to set your sights on short-term goals, especially if these help you to meet larger, long-terms goals. Imagine you want to buy a house, and know that you will need a home loan of a certain amount. You then realise that you need to save a deposit and be earning a certain amount to qualify for the loan. Those could be your long-term goals.

Decide on short-term goals 

Long-term goals should be supported by short-term goals, such as proving yourself worthy of a promotion and learning to budget so that you save a certain amount every month. But not all short-term goals have to support larger goals, and they don’t have to relate to finances. Your short-term goals could be to get in shape, to eat healthier, to quit smoking or to take up a new hobby (more about that later).

Work on your relationships (and not just the romantic ones)

The people we choose to spend our time with shape us, inspire us, support us and can even open up opportunities for us. In fact, relationships can affect all aspects of our lives, so it’s important that we give important relationships the focus, time and attention that they deserve. 

Respect your elders

Elders usually refer to your parents and grandparents – the people who know you the best and to whom you owe everything. If you can’t remember the last time you shared something with or expressed your gratitude to these nearest and dearest, maybe it’s time you did.

Get a mentor

Your parents are great sources of information and wisdom, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to turn elsewhere for advice on all things “grown up”. A mentor is often the right person to turn to when you need guidance in your job, hobby or interest. Guidance will most likely be found in these circles.

Be sensible when choosing a partner

It’s very easy to get swept up in a relationship that isn’t right for you, and you might be surprised at how comfortable you can get in an ‘okay’ or even toxic relationship. But as you grow up, it’s important to find someone who shares your values, treats you with kindness and respect, and whom you want to treat the same way. Also keep in mind that, contrary to what Disney will make you want to believe, relationships are not all roses and sunshine. Relationships require a lot of work, patience, honesty, communication and kindness. But, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.

Become more well-rounded 

Get an adult hobby

While some people never quite grow out of their favourite cartoons, the 20s offer a wonderful opportunity to explore hobbies that are more sophisticated and mature. See a theatre production, read an interesting autobiography or watch an art film. While you don’t have to force yourself to like anything, it’s good to explore different hobbies to find one you truly enjoy.

Work on self-improvement

As you embrace this new phase in your life, it’s important to get a little introspective and start working on things about yourself you would like to improve on or change. Have you ever wanted to work on your people skills, or improve your self-confidence? Or perhaps you’d like to know how to set boundaries. It’s a good idea to find books, courses and mentors to help you with any of these aspects. You should continually work on challenges as they surface to ensure that you are the best possible version of yourself.

Don’t stop learning

Always look at the world through curious eyes and strive to learn new things constantly. I don’t mean in only formal institutions like university or college. If you find yourself suddenly interested in history, art, business, investing – whatever piques your interest – go and find out more on it. Also, make time to read. Reading online is a start, but also make sure that you pick up an actual book now and then. As you get older, it gets harder to find the time to read and explore things that interest you.

At the end of the day, becoming an adult is about learning to make decisions, being more mature and independent, and learning how to handle your finances better. If you would like more saving, borrowing, and budgeting tips, sign up for our Money Mailer today. In this monthly newsletter, we'll give you everything you need to set yourself up for a successful and worry-free future.

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