Adulting For Dummies
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If you think adulting is hard, you’re not alone. The moment you turn 18, you’re expected to be a master of everything, from personal finance to household chores, even if you’ve never done any of these things before.

This handy cheat sheet is a reference for the basics of adulting. It includes tips on running your own life, including communicating, managing money, staying healthy, and even taking care of your household chores.

Running your own life

Up until now, you might have had someone else call the shots. But guess what? It’s your time to shine now! While it’s freeing to finally be considered an adult, having all of the responsibility can sometimes be scary. Goal-setting is one of the first items you need to do, and to set goals, you need to have some idea what you want to do, what you’re good at, and where you want to end up.

Every person is unique in what their goals might be, but here are some considerations and tips to ensure you get started on the right foot:

  • What exactly do you want to see happen in your life? Take a close look at what you want out of your life and analyze goals that you can see yourself sticking to in the long run.
  • Set a SMART goal, which is a goal that is smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed.
  • Write your goals down in a notebook or design a vision board. Keep your goals somewhere where you can look at them daily and be reminded that you are heading for great things!
  • Create a step-by-step plan with a timeline. If you don’t include a timeline, it’s much easier to put it off.
  • Step into action. Begin the work. Each step should be strategic to move you forward and closer to achieving your ultimate goal.
  • Evaluate your progress and learn from your mistakes. To stay motivated, you must use failure as a learning experience. You got this! Get started today!


Being able to effectively say what you mean takes practice. When communicating, your words are not the only things being evaluated. There are several things to take into consideration when communicating:

  • Speak clearly and ask questions when you need clarification.
  • Listen to what the other person is trying to convey. Don’t just try to think of something to say while the other person is talking; actually listen to them to receive their message.
  • Recognize body language in yourself and others. Body movements and facial expressions are telltale signs of what someone is communicating. Don’t let your words and body language send conflicting messages.
  • Sending text messages, snaps, and chats is a quick way to communicate with someone, but beware. If you share personal information, it will stay in the virtual world forever.

Managing money

Receiving your first paycheck is one of the best accomplishments as an adult. When you feel proud of yourself after getting that first check, you might want to splurge on the finer things in life, but budgeting your income ensures you can thrive in your life as an adult and not live paycheck to paycheck. You can get organized and manage your money with a budget. Here’s how to get one started:

  • List all sources of income.
  • List all of your expenses for the pay period.
  • Estimate and allot dollar amounts within your set income for various expenses, such as your car payment, rent, groceries, and entertainment.
  • Adjust your spending habits to stay in line with what you’ve allotted.
  • Continue your plan each pay period and adjust as needed.

Staying healthy

What you put in your body affects your overall physical and mental health and wellness. Here are a few things you should do to ensure you stay healthy and fit:

  • Consume different types of foods each day, including fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins. Limit the amount of saturated fats you consume.
  • Drink about 4 to 6 cups of water each day.
  • Find an exercise routine that works for you and that includes aerobic endurance, muscular strength training, and flexibility. Add exercise into your day-to-day life by walking your dog, taking the stairs, or riding a bike to school or work.
  • Combat stress in your life by finding your happy place and prioritizing your mental health and well-being.

Managing laundry, cooking, and cleaning

Did you know keeping a clean and tidy house can make you happier and less stressed? It’s true! Here are a few tips for keeping and managing your household:

  • Do laundry every week. If you wait much longer than that, it will become an overwhelming task.
  • Make a household meal plan for the week. Buy groceries for the week and plan meals to make in your kitchen. It can be much healthier for you to eat at home and easier on the pocketbook.
  • Clean your house regularly. Clean up any spills immediately and put back items you use right after you are done with them. Clean and sanitize the kitchen each night before you head to bed. The last thing you want to see in the morning is a pile of dishes waiting to be washed.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Gencie Houy teaches the Adulting 101 class at Texas Tech University and helps students learn how to live independently while teaching them the real skills they need for real life. She has many years of experience teaching Family and Consumer Sciences at the secondary and post-secondary levels and earned her PhD from Texas Tech University.

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