Saturday, January 30, 2016

4 Things You Should Do Before Your 21st

Most of us look forward to our 21st birthdays as the point in our lives in which we are finally given all the privileges of adulthood but still have a little more time before people expect us to totally have our sh*t together. I'm thoroughly enjoying my time before ~real adulthood~ sets in, but I don't think that means we should all be total hot messes. Here's a few things you should do before you turn 21:

1. Know something about current events.
As millennials, we're much more connected to the rest of the world than any previous generations and you really shouldn't put that to waste. I'm not saying you have to read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal every day, but start following some news outlets on Twitter, listen to the occasional NPR podcast, subscribe to daily email blasts like The Skimm or Morning Brew, read headlines or do something so you at least kind of know what's happening outside the walls of your dorm.

2. Start building a credit score.
I get it, college is rough and there will probably come a point when your textbooks will cost $800 (looking at you, accounting department) and you still have to buy a special finance calculator, an interview suit, and stuff so you can maintain some level of personal hygiene. It's going to suck and you won't enjoy having no money, but here's the deal- getting into debt now is a really bad idea. Accept a good offer from a credit card and only use it for purchases you can pay off every month. By the time you're ready to do something like buy a car or a house, you'll actually be able to qualify for a loan.

3. Learn to budget.
Building off the credit card idea- take a class in personal finance and set an actual budget for yourself. I know it's hard to set aside a large chunk of your income every month, but set up your online banking so as much as you can possibly afford to put aside goes directly into your savings account each month. There are some great apps that make budgeting easier (I recommend Mint), but an old fashioned notebook also works. Start now so you're more financially stable going into adulthood.

4. Have a few go-to grown up outfits.
You're going to need a nice interview outfit, a cocktail party outfit, and a date night/night out with friends outfit. This doesn't mean you have to go out and drop $10,000 at Barney's, but it also means you should shop around and start calling that blazer you threw over a body-con dress from a fraternity formal last year "business attire". Make sure you keep everything nicely tailored, lint-free, wrinkle-free and smelling good so you're always ready to go, regardless of the occasion. There are lots of stores geared toward millennials that have great sales on a regular basis where you can get nice outfits cheap, so consider subscribing to their email lists to help make the search a little easier.