Graduation season is fast approaching and soon thousands of teens and young twenties will be moving into a new phase to make their life on the world. I think I’ve now moved from the “recent grad” to the “real adult” category and I’m pretty sure that happened when I turned 25. So, for all you recent high school and college grads, here’s a few lessons I wish I knew before I entered the real world
- Save up for wedding gifts. If you have any friends at all, you should start saving now for wedding/shower/baby gifts. Seriously, even if you’re still in high school. Let’s say you’re invited to 2 showers and the wedding. That’s 3 gifts and you’ll probably spend a minimum of $2o on each. Triple all expenses if you’re in the wedding then double it again.
- Get a credit card. Yes, everyone tells you to stay away from credit cards. However, if you don’t have any credit to your name then you will have to put an extra deposit on things like utilities. Nothing like a surprise $200 payment to get your water turned on – not. The need for credit is one instance where doing it “right” doesn’t pay off. Sometimes you have to play the system to win the game. This is even more true when you go to buy a car and especially a house down the road.
- Hang pictures. I am notoriously late in hanging pictures and designing a space, especially if I know I won’t be there long. Don’t follow my example. A few pictures, fresh paint, and a rug make coming home from a long day at work a lot more refreshing. Take one weekend in the first month you move into a new place and paint and hang pictures – preferably in that order.
- Learn your rights as a renter. If you’re fresh out of college or high school, chances are you won’t be buying a house right away. There are great place, terrible places, and lots of places in between. As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true then it probably is. However, between the scams and great locations are also lazy and/or incompetent landlords. You hope you have a good landlord, but it’s hard to know ahead of time. In these cases, it’s good to know your rights and be prepared to stick up for them if push comes to shove. I’ve had landlords try to get out of doing necessary repairs or reimbursing for expenses until I showed I clearly knew my rights.
- Local Church. Finding a local church can be one of the hardest aspects of moving to a new city. When I was a Senior in high school I decided to switch churches. Unintentionally, this gave me a chance to check out churches while still having the safety of a “fall back church.” When I moved to go to college, I had more confidence in my ability to find a church for me and I knew the kind of church I was looking for. If possible, start looking up churches online before you move and talking to people in the area. This will give you a leg up a potentially frustrating process.
- Student Loans. If at all possible, avoid large student loans. Your experience at college is largely what you make of it – big school, small school, in-state, out-of-state probably won’t make a huge difference in the long run. Paying for student loans for 30 years can seriously impact your quality of life for many years. Be willing to reconsider the dream for reality. Think long term, not just short term. Is the perfect college really worth $200,000 of debt when you graduate if you will likely be making less than $30,000 a year?
- Friendships. Going to college means living with your best friends for 4 years. Graduating college means navigating the adult world and trying to squeeze in Friends marathons while also working 9-5, grocery shopping, and working out. When I first graduated, I was frustrated with myself because I thought I wasn’t being a good friend if I didn’t hang out with my friends several times a week. I have since learned that adult friendships are different and being a good friend is as much about intentionality as quantity of time. Also, adult friendships take time. Gone are the days when you become instant besties over theme parties and 2am Waffle House runs. You will probably be a little lonely when you graduate college, but it does get better.
If you’ve graduated recently, what else would you add to the list?