By Jeanette Engelmann, a Millennial working to become a positive thought leader
Let’s face it: while there are a lot of upsides to becoming an adult, there are a lot of downsides, too. While nobody can force you to eat your vegetables or tell you when to go to bed, you are suddenly responsible for a whole host of things that you probably never even considered — like saving for your retirement, paying a mortgage, credit card debt, raising your kids, and even paying for your own toilet paper.
Staying positive in the face of all of these challenges can be tough. I’ve been there, and am still navigating life as a young adult who has to juggle financial responsibility with learning to live life on my own. Here is what I have learned as in the post-college years as I have gotten my first (and second) jobs, gotten married, started a family, bought a house — and more.
Don’t Be An Ostrich
When it comes to finances, it may be tempting to simply ignore your problems and hope that they go away. I know that firsthand, as it was my preferred tactic during college. I lived off of my student loans and credit cards, only to have reality come crashing down on me once I graduated and had to really come to terms with my reckless spending and years of ignoring the truth of just how big of a hole I was digging.
Yes, it can be painful to face a bad financial situation. But the only way that you can possibly get out of it is by knowing what you are actually dealing with: are you $10,000 in debt, or $20,000? Do you have high interest credit card loans, or student loans with relatively low interest rates? Knowing these facts is critical to coming up with a game plan so that you can start to dig yourself out of a financial hole.
Budgeting Is Key
Part of coming to terms with you financial situation involves setting — and sticking to — a budget. It’ll take some hard work and diligence, but it’s one of the first steps to solving your financial issues. There are many formulas out there for different budgets and styles (I like SMART budgeting), so you can pick on that best fits your needs. There are also a number of apps and web-based programs that can help you budget and stay on top of your finances.
Knowing how much you have coming in each month — and how much is going out — will give you control over your finances and allow you to set goals and priorities for how your money is spent. When I set up a budget after college, I was shocked by how much money I frittered away on impulse purchases and things I absolutely did not need — which is why I highly recommend that everyone young adult set a budget to help them stay positive and realize that they can get ahead.
Automate Your Banking to Simply Your Life
One of the hardest parts of being a young adult — especially with a new family — is figuring out where to find the time to do everything that needs to be done. Between work, house chores and taking care of the kids, it can be hard to devote time to things like getting to the bank to deposit checks or making sure that all of the bills are paid on time. Thankfully, with the click of a few keys or the touch of a few buttons, I can automate most of my banking — and free up quite a bit of time.
Setting up automatic bill pay and check deposit means that I never have to worry about whether or not I wrote a check for the cable this month, or whether I deposited a paycheck. It also means that my savings automatically grows, since I enabled a feature that puts a percentage of each check right into my savings account each month. For my student loans, setting up electronic funds transfer gave me an interest rate discount, and then I got an additional percentage discount when I refinanced my loans for a lower rate. Simply put, automating all of my payments makes the most sense for busy young professionals and families. It is easy to do through your bank’s website or app (I use Chase Online Bill Pay), and saves you the hassle of going to the bank, writing out checks, or even remembering that you have to pay a certain bill.
Getting out in the real world and taking on these major responsibilities can be tough — but when you take charge of your finances, it is a lot easier to stay optimistic about your future.