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Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2018

The Easy Guide to Adjusting to Adulthood

The transition from childhood to adulthood is often difficult. Not only are you thrust into adult society with new rules, regulations, and responsibilities, you are also somehow expected to figure it all out on your own. Home economics classes are no longer taught in school after all, and one of the most popular subjects every young adult wishes their schools taught them? How to file taxes.

Schools are meant to prepare you for the future and yet they leave out how to actually function in it, leading to many decisions being made that can seriously impact your future. Not paying back your debt, for instance, can tarnish your credit score and make it nigh impossible to get good interest rates on anything. From not knowing how to cook to not knowing how to invest your money or start saving for retirement, it seems that many young adults are left in the dark.

photo/ Manuel Alejandro Leon via Pixabay

The Healthy Living Guide

Moving out and living on your own is scary enough when you are in college. Moving out and living on your own as a graduate is worse. Thankfully, you should have learned a lot of key skills when you were at college, like how to rent out an apartment or how to pay rent. Of course, renting out an apartment is easy, all you need to do is either contact a real estate agent in your area so that they can show you their properties, or use an online search. The real estate agent (otherwise known as a solicitor) in question will then walk you through the steps. All you need to do is decide on a place and sign on the dotted line.

What is more complicated, however, is ensuring that you live a healthy life when you are out on your own.

Healthy Eating

When you first start out on your own, fending for yourself becomes an exercise in survival. It also often turns out to be ready-meals and other processed foods that can either be snacked on immediately or quickly prepared. Before you go out and buy another round of fast food, however, stop. Eating unhealthy causes more damage to your health than just affecting your waistline. Just as you can be malnourished and thin, so too can you be malnourished and overweight. Nourishment is the key term here.

You need to ditch the processed foods immediately. They were created with a chemical process that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients, thus delegating all fast and processed food into empty calories. If you want to feel good and look good, switch over to healthier food choices. If you know you are typically unable to make lunch for yourself every day take a Sunday off and create your meals for the week. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and so on. Without essential nutrients, your body is starved. It needs vitamins, minerals, fibers, carbohydrates, proteins, and even fats in order to thrive, and a healthy, balanced diet can help you feel better than you have in a long time.

Healthy Living

Regular exercise doesn’t have to mean a subscription to the gym. It could mean walking more, taking your bike to work, and so on. A Harvard study suggests that we all need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day in order to be healthy, but those thirty minutes do not have to be all at once. Dance around your room in the morning, take the stairs in your apartment building, or go for a walk after work – these are all ways you can be more active and live better as a result.

photo/ engin akyurt

Other healthy living tips include improving your bedtime routine so that your circadian rhythm can work with you, not against you. Learning how to relax after work so that you can remain stress-free, and more. It will take time to figure out the exact pattern for your lifestyle, but once you do you can lead a healthy, balanced life.

The Simple Money Guide

Money is what makes the world go round, though you might find you are always running out of it, even with a job. When you find that this is happening to you, you need to stop and reevaluate your spending habits and your saving goals. You cannot, for example, go without an emergency fund. Emergency funds are there to help you through emergencies, so whether you break a leg and cannot work your waiter job or if your bike breaks and you need to pay to repair it, having an emergency fund will help you.

Money management, of course, goes so much further. You need to pay off your debts, learn how to budget appropriately, prepare for retirement.

How to Build Up Your Credit Score

If you have been late in repaying your university loans, you could be in trouble. While some lenders offer a grace period after you graduate, not all do, and, more importantly, interest can still accrue on what you owe during this period. Typically, however, you could be expected to make repayments shortly after you graduate. Not paying these loans back can settle you with a bad credit score that can be hard to get out of.

There are options if this has happened to you, of course. Bonsai Finance, for instance, offers credit cards for those who have poor credit, which in turn will allow you to build up your credit score. These credit cards, however, will have high interest rates attached to them, so they should only be applied for after you have your finances in order.

How to Budget

If you are having trouble making your loan repayments, a great option is to move back home so that you can work and build up your savings. If you cannot move back into your parents’ home for any reason, however, you will need to be stricter with your budget. Eliminate all unnecessary spending to start with. This means no more coffees on the way to work and no more treats at lunch until you have your finances in order. You should also find ways to lower your utility bill, consider moving to a cheaper apartment, and lower your living costs as much as you can.

You can save a lot of money by eating frozen food options, and, before you start to worry about losing out on nutritional value, don’t. Frozen foods contain the same, if not more nutrients than their fresh counterparts, as they are frozen shortly after picking and do not have to travel in transit or sit on a shelf for days if not weeks. Choose frozen you won’t have to worry about your health, about food spoiling, or about your food budget.

Once you have cut out all unnecessary spending, you should have a bit of money left over. Use this to catch up on the repayments that you owe. Each missed deadline pushes you further into the black list of credit scores, so you want to climb out of that as soon as possible. If you still don’t have enough money to keep up with your repayments, consider asking for help from family, who can lend you the money you need without an interest rate. From there add a small sum to your repayment plan to give to your parents to assure them that you are serious about holding your own.

Investing for the Future

Retirement schemes are not stable, and as such, you should not solely rely on them. Instead, start your own savings plan. Set up a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) and put money into it as soon as possible. The longer your savings have time to gain interest, the more money you will have by the time you retire. You do not have to wait until you are thirty or even have a career, salaried job to start your retirement savings.

Taxes

The biggest and most daunting part of being an adult is filing your taxes. In the States, you must do this yourself, but thankfully there is extensive documentation to help you out. Where it gets tricky, of course, is when it comes to tax credits and deductibles. Accountants are skilled at filing taxes to get the most returns, but you can file for your own deductibles as well.

What you can claim back will depend on your living situation. If you take care of an elderly family member, for instance, you can get tax back. If you have children, you can get tax back. There are tax credit options for nearly every part of your life, from earned income, to saver’s credit, to mortgage interest credit, to ACA credit, to even education tax credits. You owe it to yourself to go through the full list of options available and see what applies to you. Paying tax that you don’t need to isn’t advised, especially when you can claim tax back on things other than your income.

We All Make Mistakes

We all make mistakes, the only thing you need to remember is to try. When you try to help yourself, others, in turn, will be willing to help you. One of the best ways that you can help yourself is to balance your budget better and to be prepared for every deadline, from loan repayments to rent, to when you need to file your tax return. The more prepared you are, the better you can pick yourself up and get started on living your life.  

Author: Carol Trehearn

photo courtesy of Greenberg Health

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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