Trading in your impulsive college years for a 9-5 job can be jarring, but adulting doesn’t have to be as traumatizing as TV makes it out to be. Contrary to popular belief, you can get your act together and still be awesome. In fact, getting your responsibilities in check will only make you more fun to be around, because you won’t drop the ball. Here’s how to make it happen without sacrificing the fun.
Successful people tend to be meticulous planners, so get organized. Opt for a planner that’s aesthetically striking so you want to use it, and keep it small to bring anywhere. The inside should consist of both calendar and a side page for notes. Mark important plans in the calendar section, then write details on the notes page.
Those who prefer digital can sync Google calendar with your phones to add dates mentioned in your Gmail chains to your calendar (Outlook and iOS perform a similar service). Most phones offer one-swipe previews of upcoming calendar items so no unexpected twists come your way. Then share your Google calendar with friends and family so they stop bugging you about their dog’s birthday party.
Automate your finances
Skip errands and paperwork with a little online planning. Add up your monthly bills (use the highest bill of the year as the benchmark) and keep that sum in your savings account, where it earns more interest. Automatically transfer the amount you’ll need to checking after the start of the month. Be sure to leave enough money in checking for unexpected costs. If you’re not exceeding your bank’s limit on savings transactions for the month, you can pay bills directly from there instead — through auto-payments, natch.
Use direct deposit if your company offers it. You can’t misplace it like a check, and many banks give bonuses to new checking accounts that use direct deposit. Multiple accounts will also keep you from spending too freely, since some of your cash is earning money out of sight, and thus out of mind.
Put your credit card to work
A credit card with a rewards program can be a huge advantage if used properly. You’re going to spend money anyway, so why not get a percentage of it back? The key to this is paying off the balance in full every month. Points back for travel or coupon and cash redemption are like free cash.
To stay within budget, try this: put spending money in one pocket of your wallet. Every time you use your card, move that money to a different pocket you’re not allowed to touch. Then deposit the “spent” money into a checking account dedicated solely to paying off the card. That way you’ll earn card rewards while never accruing more debt than your liquid funds.
Health is wealth
Nothing says “adult” like actually taking care of yourself. The easiest way to do that? Get yourself a gym membership and freakin’ use it. According to a survey by Goldman Sachs, roughly 20% of millennials are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, but a separate study found that 60% of gym members never use their memberships. To make sure you stay out of the majority, opt for a program that holds you accountable. Classpass is offered in 29 major cities across the country — including New York, Austin, LA, Chicago, and Boston — and every time you try to bail on a class you registered for before realizing brunch is more fun than kickboxing, you get charged $15-$20.
Pact (formerly GymPact) operates with a similar incentive, charging you for workout sessions you miss while also financially rewarding you for ones you don’t. So not only can you finally get that six-pack you’ve been after, but you could end up with a higher bank account balance by the end of the week. Clearly it’s a win-win. And hey, that’s more money for brunch (even though you now think kickboxing’s more fun after all).
And since you’re such an automation expert now? Schedule your annual doctor’s appointments online. When 70% of adults across the US are being treated for diseases that could have been prevented, you’re gonna want to keep those checkups going. Refill prescriptions automatically online, and have medication mailed to you, or sign up for a text update from your local pharmacy when your scrip is ready for pickup.
Purge Your Social Media
Do you really need to know what everyone you went to middle school with is doing? No, and you really don’t need to compare your life to theirs either, so stop doing it.
Obsessively checking social media doesn’t just piss off your boss, it also takes a toll on your mental health. Aside from serving as a constant distraction, Psychology Today reported that becoming dependent on social media can lead to social anxiety, insecurity, and depression.
The solution? Purge your social accounts ASAP. Cut back on the 4,000 friends you’ve digitally acquired over the years and pare the herd down to only include your real friends. It’s a lot easier to compare your life to someone whom you know only posts their best-lit selfies.
For the more daring, take things a step further by deleting your accounts altogether. Be it temporary or permanent, undergoing a social cleanse is scientifically good for the soul (trust us, we have an MD). When you spend less time going through the 200 vacation photos your elementary school crush posted, your world gets a whole lot brighter.
Stop eating out and learn how to cook
Seamless has been sustaining busy millennials since 1999, but when you spend your last $20 on a spicy tuna roll delivery, you need to admit that you have a problem. On the bright side, you’re not the only one. According to New York magazine, Americans spent $54.857 billion eating out in 2016 versus $52.503 billion spent on groceries. As if our collective inability to boil water wasn’t cringeworthy enough, Nation’s Restaurant News pointed out that restaurant prices rose an average of 2.7% that same year. So not only did we spend a ton of money on eating out, but we also overpaid.
On the other hand, grocery prices did the complete opposite. Federal data from 2016 showed that average price points for food declined 0.2% in January. In short: back away from the takeout app and head to the grocery store at least once a week to stock up on food. Say goodbye to spending $12 on a sad sandwich every day at work and teach yourself how to cook.
For those who are seriously lacking in the culinary department, services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh will help you out. Not only do they supply you with ingredients for five star meals, but they also send insanely clear directions on how to make them. Or save yourself even more money with a beginner’s cookbook or website that will teach you the same basic techniques without the monthly subscription cost. Use the extra cash for weekend splurging — you’ve earned it.
Update and backup your stuff
We get it, waiting out an iCloud update seems tedious when the time could be better spent swiping right on Tinder, but the service makes your life ten times easier. Apple’s online storage container allows you to find important files across all of your Apple products, meaning you’re instantly more organized (remember? From before? You’re doing it now with the literal push of a button.) as soon as you press “update.”
Android users can reap similar benefits. Updating your droid can fix major bugs and stop it from moving at a glacial pace. Plus you can make the update automatic, so you can exercise as little effort as possible. Regardless of which operating system you prefer, updating your software keeps your products running smoothly and thus retrieves the information you need quicker.
Don’t forget to also back up your files just in case of a technological meltdown — once your stuff evaporates in cyberspace, it’s not coming back.
Turn your apartment into a real apartment — and keep it clean
Welcome to the world of adulthood, where you have a real job, real bills, and a real salary. With that being said, it’s time to stop living like a freshman in college. Transform your space into an adult apartment by replacing your floor mattress with a legit bed (we’re talking the whole nine yards — bed frame, headboard, comforter, big fluffy pillows fit for a king), and make sure to keep things clean.
Studies have found that messy rooms often signify that their owner is a genius, but that doesn’t make the bacteria lurking in your duvet any less disgusting. Your sheets soak up roughly one liter of sweat a night and 8 hours worth of skin shedding, making them a breeding ground for allergy-inflaming fungi. If you don’t know how to do laundry, you’re going to want to learn stat and clean your bedding on a weekly basis.
Same goes for the rest of your apartment. Rolling around a vacuum for 10 minutes everyday and running a duster along tables and cabinets will do wonders for your social life. When you’re not living in squalor, people will actually want to come over and hang out.
Utilize your LinkedIn account & keep your resume fresh
Full disclosure: getting your dream job takes work. Get ahead by being aware of your resources and how to use them. A 2016 survey found that 85% of all jobs were filled via networking, meaning keeping your resume sharp and updated is a must. Always have it on hand – especially when out at a work event – and get your name out there. Make it stand out by highlighting your accomplishments rather than describing your daily workday, keeping your points direct and concise, and tailoring it to the job you’re looking for. Also, skip the irrelevant info — it’s cool that you worked at that pizza shop in college, but it’s time to let that go.
As a side, don’t forget about the digital space. In April of 2016, 6.5 million jobs were listed on LinkedIn, and according to company execs, keeping your page updated makes you 18 times more likely to be found by recruiters. Capture their attention with an engaging headline and by asking former employers for recommendations. The more clear it is that you do your job well, the better.
If you’re looking to be more proactive in finding your dream job, check out LinkedIn Groups, a place that provides job hunters a way to connect with professionals in the industry they’re looking to excel in. Not only will you find job postings specific to your field, but you can also get valuable career advice from people who are already working in it. Get an inside look at what recruiters in the industry are looking for, and take their advice to heart.