I put it to you that seeming ‘adult’ has less to do with age and more to do with your money habits. You know how some people just seem to have their stuff together? You know, the ones who are the same age as you but somehow they seem so much older. They organise cocktail parties, their outfits are coordinated and they actually know about money. They don’t even necessarily have a lot of it, they just seem to know how to WERK it.
There’s no grand secret – they’re just making a conscious choice to learn about their financial situation and making plans around it. If you’re reading this nodding along and wondering how the heck they do that, don’t worry, we’ve written you a little cheat sheet to adulting so you know where to start.
Knowing Your Budget
Upon getting our first jobs in high school, most of us had nary a care in the world. A lot of us still had our food and rent covered by our parents and what seemed like an eternity to save. Personally, a significant portion of my earnings up until the day I moved out at 19 went towards live gigs, CDs (yes, compact discs) and band shirts. I’m not claiming to be perfect with my budget these days, but I know what it is and for the most part, I stick to it. It feels very adulty.
Shopping With A Grocery List
I feel like there are two stages of adulting when it comes to grocery shopping. The first is when you’ve just moved out of home and you realise you can buy whatever treats you like without having to beg your parents or smuggle them in. Icecream at midnight? Yup! It’s a fun stage, but not really sensible or sustainable.
The second and actual adulting stage is when you stop hitting up the grocery store feeling hungry with absolutely no plan and ending up with way more groceries than you need, and start preparing a grocery list before you go. Then sticking to it.
A Healthy Savings Account
You may have opened a separate account for your savings a while ago, but now you’re actually seeing healthy numbers in there. You know why? Because you’ve got your budget down pat. It feels safe and cosy, like a warm hug. It also means that you might actually be able to afford the occasional spontaneous splurge because you put in the hard yards and saved enough money. If you want to be in this position but haven’t quite made it you, you’ll find some good tips right here.
An Emergency Fund
Now we’re getting to next level adulting. A healthy savings account is impressive, but having an emergency fund on top of that in case of…well, emergencies? That’s some sensible behaviour.
Paying Off Your Debts
The Lannisters basically all suck, but their motto wasn’t so bad. Credit card bills, HELP debts, car loans and whatever else you may have borrowed money for, even if it was just from your parents, bless their hearts. Real adulting begins when you’ve worked out a solid repayment plan. And no, that absolutely doesn’t mean you have to pay it all off at once. If you can, good for you, but most of us will need to sit down and work it into our budgets.
Knowing Your Credit Score
We all know it’s out there in the world, but do you actually know what your credit rating is? No, me either. Which is silly because it’s actually so easy to find out, and free. Here are the Aussie governments’ guidelines. Why is your credit score important? They’re used by credit lenders like banks and credit unions to judge whether you’re someone they want to lend money to. Knowing your score before applying for loans gives you a good idea of whether you need to wait and improve it or if you have a good chance of being accepted.
Paying Your Share Back Immediately
When you stop with the ‘oh yeah I’ll totes pay you back as soon as I get home’ and then forget to do it until weeks or months later, that’s pretty adult. You’ll stop accepting things you can’t afford, and you’re financially responsible enough to not leave someone else hanging.
Learn More About Investments
I don’t know about you, but in the last 2 to 3 years, everyone I know seemed to buy shares except me. When did this happen exactly? I have no clue! No one talked about it at parties, no one discussed the stock market at our casual catch ups, just BOOM suddenly everyone had them and were surprised I hadn’t even looked into it. Or any other type of investment.
I’m not saying you must have investments to be an adult. It could very well turn out that investing isn’t right for you and your current financial situation and plans. But having some knowledge about different opportunities for investment, what investing looks like, and knowing whether it’s for you or not…dang that’s adult.
This article was sponsored by ANZ, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence No. 234527 but it sure wasn’t written by them. Always speak to the experts before making financial choices, ok?