Welcome to Adulthood: Grown-up Things You Need to Understand to Thrive

Adulthood. Big as life and twice as ugly. What’s worse, it’s staring you in the face.

College prepared you (hopefully) for the workforce, but universities don’t usually offer courses in the nuts and bolts of adult living. Maybe you were lucky and Mom or Dad were sticklers for teaching you how to organize a monthly expenditure sheet on Excel. But if you’re like the rest of us, when somebody says “renter’s insurance” you’re just scratching your head.

Here are some things to consider now that you’ve got that diploma in hand.

Health Insurance

I know, I know, you’re under your parent’s insurance, but Mom and Dad won’t be paying for you forever. Even if you’re going to hold out a few more years, it’s good to have a working understanding of what health insurance is, what it covers, and why it’s critical to surviving modern life.

You’re healthy now (let’s say a prayer that you always will be) but accidents happen, and life doesn’t always go as planned.

The Simple Dollar Guide to Health Insurance, Insurance for Dummies by Jack Hungelmann, and Healthcare.gov are great resources to help you get a better grasp on how to pay to stay healthy.

Car and Renter’s Insurance

Car insurance is fairly self-explanatory. You need it to cover the damage to your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, anything else you might run into, as well as medical bills in case of injury. Cost is based on age, driving record, and type/age of your vehicle.

Renter’s insurance is similar to homeowner's insurance, except it covers a rented space, such as an apartment. This may sound unnecessary, but should your apartment catch fire for any reason, it is renter’s insurance that will replace your damaged goods, pay for the remodel, and cover putting you up in a hotel until the work is finished.

Renter’s insurance is usually bundled with your car insurance. For more info, check out this guide: A Basic Guide To Choosing Renters Insurance.

Credit Cards and Spending

Like chicken-pox and Justin Bieber, it’s hard to avoid credit cards in our modern world. No doubt you’ve heard about all the evils they create (credit cards, not the Beebs), but the sad truth is that credit cards are, if evil, still necessary. Much of your future credit history depends upon them.

Becoming a full-fledged adult includes learning to master your credit, as well as your spending.

Check out the following to help manage both:

Retirement and Investment Portfolios

If you’re lucky enough to work for an employer who invests in a 401(k), then by all means take advantage. But planning for your future and investing well includes more than simply relying upon your employer.

It may seem like something you don’t need to worry about until you’re older, but understanding the realities of investing over time and compound interest will help you better decide when, where, and how to invest. Generation Earn by Kimberley Palmer and Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner are great resources to start with.

Voting Registration

You’ve probably moved since you graduated college. A new city means you’ll need to register in a new county in order to vote. This can be done at your local post office or your local department of motor vehicles. If you want to print out the forms yourself, check out this website.

Library Card

Again, a new city means new library registration. This may seem like an old fogey thing to do, but local libraries are major resources. With access to books, movies, newspapers, magazines, and a wealth of online programs, libraries are one of the great community centers open to the public.

Family Practitioner

Unless you’re living back at home with Mom and Dad, you’ll likely need to choose a new doctor. While you may only rarely utilize your doctor, the truth is that many clinics and hospitals today will insist that you work through a family practitioner. Getting one lined up may save you from having to see multiple physicians before actually getting treatment, so don’t put this one off.

For advice on choosing a doctor, check out Familydoctor.org

Get a Filing System

Yep, the day has finally come. You’re going to have to get organized. One of the most annoying and disheartening moments of adulthood comes when you need a specific piece of paperwork that you remember seeing once, briefly, in a pile, on your desk, three months ago, but is currently MIA. Save yourself the heartache and develop a filing system.

Check out this website for excellent advice, as well as a list of documents you’ll need to keep from here on out.

Welcome to adulthood. You'll do great!

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