1. Living with your parents.
Things got complicated somewhere along the line, and a lot of millennials are staying in their family homes a lot longer than they used to. It isn’t ideal, it is often stressful, and it can sometimes feel embarrassing.
But know above all else that if you’re taking steps towards your future, working hard towards financial goals, and building the beginning of your independent life while saving money by living at home with mom and dad, you shouldn’t let yourself feel like shit about it. You’re making moves, and it is actually more responsible to know your financial limits and stay home a bit longer (if you’re welcome there, and contributing in some way to the household) than to push yourself to flee the nest and end up in serious debt later on because of it.
2. Living with roommates.
In fact, if you aren’t living with roommates, you might be in the minority (and quite possibly are making a much less adult decision, financially-speaking). If you need to live with roommates for a little bit, more power to you — paying less than what is necessary for rent helps a lot when you’re starting out your career and building a savings, and you’ll get there sooner than you think.
3. Working a “non-career” job.
Not everyone wants a 9-to-5 in an office, so you can shake off the people that think they’re on some sort of moral high ground for getting a corporate job and saying things like “But you don’t want to work at a fast food joint forever, right?” as if it would be the worst thing in the world.
(Side note: also shake off the people who act like they’ve taken the moral high ground by not getting a corporate job and surviving on side-gigs. Shake off anyone who acts like either lifestyle choice has made them more enlightened. We all do what we want to do, like to do, can do, and have to do to earn money and survive.)
4. Trying to fully understand taxes.
I spent all the weeks leading up to tax day furiously Googling and crying on the phone with my mom trying to figure out what it all meant. It is complicated sometimes, and if your career isn’t dedicated to understanding taxes, you may have a rough go at it your first few times. Don’t pretend to understand things you don’t just to seem like an adult — it is okay to look things up, ask questions, investigate, and seek help. It is okay — you’re trying, and you’ll get there.
5. Using hand-me-down cooking supplies.
It isn’t quite the Pinterest kitchen that you wish it were, but it works and it was free. (I’m looking at you, mismatched half-sets of drinking glasses currently in my kitchen cabinet.)
Surely, you’d like to reach a point where everything you own makes perfect sense in your life. But when you’re young and starting out, it is genuinely okay to not have the most highly aesthetically-pleasing gear. If it works for you, then it is probably good enough for now. Having a curated collection of “things” is desirable, but is more the cherry on top of a grownup life than it is the pathway to one. Your level of adult-ness is not going to be defined by your cupboard.
6. Sometimes purchasing a cheaply-made clothing item that doesn’t fit into a desired-but-seemingly-unattainable chic, business-casual capsule wardrobe.
It is hard to pass up a good trend if you’re into clothes/fashion, and it is totally okay to buy a straw hat that you’re literally only going to wear this season because last month’s issue of Vogue has you convinced you need one. It is fine. If it doesn’t get the wear you hoped it would, it is fine. If you end up tossing it in a donation pile in six months, it is fine. It doesn’t mean you’ve regressed to your frivolous teenage-hood. You’ll go on, and it really won’t make or break you financially so long as you don’t make a real habit of impulse-buying fast-fashion clothes. In my opinion, you don’t be so hard on yourself with this stuff (contrary to what a lot of personal finance articles on the internet may be trying to make you believe).
7. Googling money statistics to make yourself feel less alone.
I like finding out that millennials in my area also have less than $500 in their checking account, and I think it is okay to find some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in your money-struggle. I like to look up what people in my age bracket are earning in my area and compare myself. It isn’t healthy to become obsessed with comparison, but it is definitely helpful to see how you measure up when you’re trying to set new goals for yourself, or to use actual statistical data as a sort of comfort when you’re feeling financially stressed.
Actually, this is more than okay. You actually should be doing this. Don’t let people make you feel bad about babysitting on your weekends off from your super-adult 9-to-5. They might be sorry they didn’t later. Quite frankly, if you aren’t side-hustling in some capacity, you are probably making a mistake and missing out on a lot of great financial opportunity.
9. Feeling weirdly unsettled about the prospect of making and keeping important appointments.
Obviously don’t be a weird adult-child and neglect your health, and tweet in a tongue-in-cheek way about how you’re so ~silly~ because you haven’t been to the dentist in 12 years. But in general, as long as you’re working through the discomfort of making a dreaded dentist appointment and dragging your sorry ass there, it is okay to feel low-key bummed and anxious about the fact that your mom can’t support you emotionally through it.
You very likely had someone handling this kind of stuff for you throughout most of your life, and it is okay to find the adjustment period of taking over these personal responsibilities to be a little uncomfortable. As long as you’re pushing through that and doing it, you don’t need to feel weird that you had to call your mom and ask her for guidance when searching for a new doctor.
10. Accepting a little bit of financial help.
A lot of people are financially independent in their early twenties, but a lot of people aren’t. Things get a little complicated when people take non-traditional career paths, or take a little longer to finish college. (It is almost unheard of to finish in exactly four years these days.) So, although you should be on your way to full financial independence, and you should never stagnate and stop taking steps toward your independent financial future, it is generally okay to accept a little help here and there.
If your mom offers you a little money because she knows an unexpected (and un-budgeted-for) expense came up in your life that is stressing you out, you can graciously accept it. If your partner covers you for dinner five dates in a row because they know money is a little tight on your end, that’s okay. Even if your partner covers your portion of rent one month while you’re between jobs or adjusting to a new expense, that’s okay. People really only offer to help when they genuinely want to, and are in the position to do so. You are not defined by your money situation, and you are not less of a grownup for accepting a little help. In fact, accepting help when you need it may be one of the most adult things you can do.
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