I've grown up a lot in the last few years. Graduating, moving out, paying rent...they are all big steps. But there are still TONS of things about being a grown-up that I struggle with. Things like...knowing how to top up my car's oil. Or understanding the stock market. Or not paying $6 for a coffee because I stupidly stayed up until 2am watching episodes of Dawson's Creek with my roommate.
But it's all about baby steps, right? There are a few things I've been making a conscious effort to try:
1. Air drying my clothes:
I can be so lazy when it comes to doing laundry, so when I actually get around to it, it's so tempting to shove everything in the dryer as soon as it's washed. The thing is, though, that drying your clothes actually reduces their life span by a significant amount. I have items of clothing that I love almost as much as I love some people, so it doesn't make sense that I wouldn't treat them with care.
I don't have the patience or the room to air dry all of my clothes, but I have started to dry my Nike shorts, Lululemons, more delicate cardigans and tights on a drying rack. This way, I also avoid accidental shrinkage! It makes me feel a lot better to know that I'm taking care of my clothing.
Yeah, yeah, I KNOW it's good for me, but this is one habit that has eluded me for years. I have a really tiny mouth, which doesn't help matters, but it turns out that it's really not so bad once you get used to it.
What it really came down to was vanity and money. I don't want my teeth falling out, and since leaving school I can no longers claim dentist appointments on my Dad's insurance. The more careful I am with my teeth, the less money I have to spend on cavity fillings later.
3. Making a schedule
This is really less about making a schedule and more about putting appointments into my iPhone as soon as I make them. For years I went back and forth between different systems, which meant I was always worried I was missing something.
I started by making sure my iCloud was set up to sync all my devices, so I can pretty much enter/check my schedule from anywhere. Then it's really a matter of keeping it updated. I also set up alerts for submitting paysheets, paying my credit card, and renewing my memberships/passport/travel insurance.
Also, did you know you can import individual events from Facebook right into iCal? Brilliant
4. Making an emergency kit for my car
I really want to write a whole post on this (maybe for emergency preparedness week), but I'll write a blurb about this now. I already had basics like a first aid kit, jumper cables, etc, in my car, but now that I'm commuting and travelling home so much, I wanted something more comprehensive. I used an old Lululemon bag to store a change of clothes, my old iPhone and a charger (did you know even an unactivated cell phone can call 911?), a photocopy of my drivers license, some extra cash, a toothbrush, a flashlight, and a bunch of other things that are convienient to have "just in case".
The trick with this is really to pretend it's not even there, while still going through it to update the supplies every once in a while. It makes me feel a lot more secure knowing that I have some basic supplies if I ever get stuck downtown overnight!
5. Setting up a budget and opening a Tax Free Savings Account
Now that I'm living on my own, I'm trying to become more aware of what I spend my money on and the best ways to save it.
One thing that has helped was setting up a Mint.com account. It tracks your activity and tells you where you spend most of your money (It made me uncomfortably aware of how much I spend on coffee). It also send you alerts if you go over a budget you set for yourself.
Another thing I did was talk to a financial advisor at my bank. I explained that I wanted to start saving but wasn't sure the best way to go about it. She explained a couple of options--mutual funds, and RRSP, and a Tax Free Savings Account, which is what I settled on. Basically, I can contribute a certain amount of money per year and any interest made on my savings is tax-free. Because I'm not making a ton of money, and don't feel comfortable jumping into the world of investments, this was the best option.
6. Cooking dinner instead of getting takeout and cooking ahead of time.
It really helps that I live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so going out for dinner/getting takeout takes approximately as much effort as cooking for myself. I don't hate cooking, I just hate stopping whatever I'm doing to stand in the kitchen for an hour to make a meal. I've been learning how to make things that take less than 10 minutes to prepare or less than 30 minutes total standing in the kitchen. I invented this awesome dish which involves throwing
2 chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup of rice
italian salad dressing
3 tbsp water
into a casserole dish and cooking it for 40 minutes. It takes no time at all to throw together, and then I come back in 40 minutes (baring any interruption from the smoke alarm, which I'm sure goes off the second it gets warmer than room temperature in my house) and I have dinner for two days.
Also, Kate from What Kate Likes tipped me off to Smitten Kitchen and I swear, within 25 minutes of clicking to that site, I had fresh biscuits in front of me and I just ate them and they were delicious.
After re-reading this post, I have concluded that the secret to adulthood is thinking ahead. What can I do today that will make the rest of the week more smoothly? What tiny step can I take that will save me money and time and sanity later? And how can I trick my brain into doing all of these things in a timely manner?
What kinds of things make you feel like a grown-up? What are you still struggling with?