Money Matters


1 Sep 2016 by: jhurley 

So you’re heading off to college? College often becomes a crash course in learning to be a “grown up.” Using social media vernacular, you will be #adulting for the first time (For actual adults reading this #adulting is a term used by young people who are learning to do basic adult responsibilities for the first time). Here’s a list of #adulting skills that you will need to learn as you move away from home for the first time:

Applied Culinary Arts

Looking down at your fifth bowl of top ramen this week may leave you thinking you should have thanked Mom a lot more for those delicious home cooked meals that magically appeared each evening. Yes, you should have. But unless you’re planning on eating rehydrated pseudo soup indefinitely, you’ll need to start shopping for and preparing your own healthy meals. If you’ve never had an interest in spending time in the kitchen, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Hop on your iPhone and search something similar to “easy healthy meals on a budget.” This will surely populate a wealth of information that will contain recipes within your skillset, budget and appeal to your palate.
  • Make sure you’re stocked with the basics:
  • Pot
  • Pan
  • Knives
  • Spatula
  • Baking sheet
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Colander (aka a strainer)
  • An oven mitt (no you absolutely cannot just use a towel, don’t find that out the hard way)
  • Cool tools to have: Vegetable Peeler, Can Opener, Grater, Tongs, Scoop and Whisk

Yes, those are just the basics and it’s a pretty long list. Don’t be afraid to let family know you’d love to have their pass-me-down kitchen basics, if they’re planning to upgrade anytime soon. Many long-term homeowners would welcome the opportunity to get rid of one of the five spatulas they’ve somehow managed to accumulate.

  • If you really want to save time and money, invest in a crockpot. It’s an easy way to make batches of meals, you can freeze the extras for later use. Bonus, you may be able to make eight future meals and only have to clean up the kitchen once- score!

Physical Education

Since you’re no longer required to participate in gym class or sports, you need to make it a priority to take care of your body. Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand in maintaining top cognitive performance, so get moving five times a week for at least 30 minutes. Staying active will help you release endorphins that fight depression and make you “feel good” and age well (which will happen more rapidly as you age.)

While we’re on the topic of physical self-care, here are some other points to ponder:

  • What kinds of health insurance do you have? Do you know your copays for visits and prescriptions?
  • If you need to visit the doctor or urgent care, who is your in-network provider and where is the office located? (Figuring this out when you’re suffering and not thinking clearly, due to strep throat or some other ailment will fall under the category of NOT FUN – do your homework now.)
  • Do you know what to expect when you visit the doctor’s office on your own? Be sure to have your ID and insurance card handy, be ready to explain what is concerning you about your health (doctors are not mind readers), and if you’re given instructions you don’t completely understand, keep asking questions until it makes sense. You’ll also need to be ready to answer questions about any allergies and your family’s health history.
  • Do you review your medical bills in detail upon receipt and pay them promptly? Sadly, errors in medical billing happen all the time, so make sure you’re not being charged for something you’ve already paid for through your insurance. And remember, late payments on any bill will hurt your credit score.
  • Do you know that after age 18, an Advance Health Care Directive is required to allow a trusted person (such as a parent) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.  Generally, parents aren’t authorized to make these decisions for you unless you have an Advanced Health Care Directive.

Studies in Modern Housekeeping

Let’s face it, cleaning your home is no one’s definition of a good time. You still have to do it- not just because it’s gross if you don’t, or that you won’t have many repeat visitors, but for practical reasons like killing germs so you don’t get sick and saving time when looking for things! Hopefully you’ve had a precursor while living at home, but here are a few tips:

  • Hop back on the iPhone and search “baking soda and vinegar for household cleaning.” With the prescribed amounts of each of these ingredients, you can basically clean your entire home in a cheap and ecofriendly manner. This search may also enlighten you to a whole new list of things you didn’t realize you should probably clean.
  • Set a timer and blast Pandora, if you power clean and work up a sweat this can definitely count as physical activity as mentioned above.
  • Just a quick note on laundromat etiquette – always remove your clothes as promptly as possible. It would be a real bummer, if someone else moved your freshly cleaned clothes to a not so clean basket or table. Also, clothes that are left in a machine too long have a high probability of disappearing. If you think your old gym socks are safe, remember the world is made up of all kinds of interesting characters.

Learning to Live Peacefully with Others

In Harlan Cohen’s The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College, the author encourages an “Uncomfortable Rule.” Here’s how it works: the roommates make a pact that if any of them does something that makes another roommate uncomfortable, the person who is bothered by the issue has to bring it up within 48 hours or never bring it up again. When people live together, they’re inevitably going to do things to annoy each other, but it’s important not to let small issues fester until they’re huge. Here are some other ways to make living with others easier:

  • Set ground rules from the start – what are you cool with sharing and what personal items are off limits? How do you feel about visitors or overnight guests? Setting expectations and communicating your needs is key to a happy household.
  • Get tech-savvy with tracking expenses – Look into apps like Splitwise for Venmo to make it easy to split bills and pay your roommate back instantly.

Hopefully, the tips above will help soften the transition to full-fledged adulthood.  Leaving you with more time to master future #adulting like showing up on-time for your 9-5 and completing your first tax return.

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