Real advice

So a lot of you on here are teens and might be getting ready to be out on your own. Here are some things I learned the hard way or that are just good to know.

  • Never smoke or quit if you are currently. The cost of addictive smoking is more than half your groceries a month AND the bodily cost will surprise you.
  • Drink water. Yeah okay I know this one sucks but water is much much cheaper than soda, trust me. Your skin will thank you.
  • Send thank you cards. Don’t have any? Get the cheap ones and send those. It doesn’t matter how nice they are, the fact that you sent a thank you card matters. Send it for gifts, people calling you to check on you, those adults who helped you move, and even people who interview you.
  • Withhold 1. Okay so speaking of jobs, on your forms (US) where you are trying to figure out your tax withholding, put one. Yourself. It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t owe $2,000 in April and you still get a pretty decent check. 
  • No pets. If you don’t have a pet now, don’t get one. It’s super hard to get an apartment that will let you have a pet when you are first starting out. Wait until you are a bit older and can afford to rent more than a one bedroom apartment. 
  • Insurance. You’re young, so why do you need life insurance? Because that’s the best time to get it. Yeah, it’s a dumb expense to pay right now, but if you get it early, you can afford it. The longer you wait, the more expensive it is. Car insurance is going to be high for a few years, but it will drop around 22 and 25 years old. Health insurance usually comes through your job and please don’t ignore it. Renter’s insurance is usually pretty cheap and it covers you if there is a fire or natural disaster and you have to go back home to mom.
  • Off brand. This goes for food, clothing, makeup, and cleaning supplies and just about anything else you can think of. For food, Aldi’s is your best friend. I can go fill up a cart of just food and it will cost maybe $70. the same amount of food at Walmart is easily over $150. You can of course be picky, but try to get the majority of your food off brand. Hygiene products too. Goodwill is great for clothes, but plan a trip. Save like 60 bucks and drive near a big city where the rich people live. Go to the goodwill there. You can basically get an all new wardrobe for pennies on the dollar. Makeup is tricky. It can be really really expensive but you don’t really have to buy all of it name brand. Pick whats most important to you. I prefer eye shadows and lipsticks name brand and I deal with everything else from the drugstore. With he right techniques, you can make it look expensive. As for cleaning, I always use dollar tree stuff minus my laundry detergent because of allergies. Bleach, stain spray, and vinegar are gonna be your best friends,.
  • Car. Okay so yeah, that brand new car is nice and sure, maybe you can afford it. For now. Disaster will strike. Something will come up and bam, you’re stuck choosing if you want to walk everywhere or eat. Try getting a slightly used car, such as one of the ones they let people test drive a lot or a car that has previously been leased. Just as nice and much MUCH cheaper. And I have gotten THREE cars with no down payment so don’t let them tell you you can’t. But it is nice to put it down,even $100. 
  • Negotiate. Don’t be afraid to haggle with people. Yeah it’s intimidating but it’s 10 minutes of your life versus hundreds of dollars a year. What can you negotiate? Almost anything. Car payment. Rent. Insurance. Hospital bills. Even due dates for the bills you can’t negotiate on. Also, if something comes up where you have to skip a payment on something, call them. Give them like $25 and explain your situation. Ask if your payment date can be moved with the $25 as a goodwill promise to pay the rest later. It works. They would rather move your date than send you to collections. 
  • Collectors. Okay so this one is tricky. If you have fallen behind and owe a collector, don’t fret. I do too, even as I write this. Owing a collector means that the original service has been paid (health bills, credit card ect) and you are now paying the people who paid your bill. (I know it’s confusing) however, they will usually want the entirety of what they paid for you in 6 months. Meaning if they just paid a bill for you that was $3,000, they are gonna ask for $500 a month. That’s rent. That’s crazy. Tell them outright what you can afford and don’t lie about it either. If you can afford $100, tell them that. If you can afford $50, tell them that. If you can’t afford to pay them anything when they call you, let them know when you can. If you can’t afford it when you told them you could, don’t answer your phone to a number you don’t know. I know that sounds horrible but if you are renting an apartment, renting a car, and literally own nothing, they can’t do much to you. Just pay when you can and try to maybe pick up some extra shifts at work to make a payment. I have been dodging collectors for about three years. I owe I think three right now. I pay ONE of them a month, but it’s a large payment to keep them quiet for a while. I do not suggest this for you, I am just letting you know what I do.
  • Credit Cards. Okay, the big one. Many adults will tell you to never ever get a credit card and that’s just not feasible in this world. However, it can be addicting to be able to go to Walmart when you are negative in your bank account and get that $10 movie. I mean, it’s just 10 bucks right? WRONG. It will build up fast and soon the one credit card you have will be maxed. So you have to get another for emergencies. And another. And so on. So here’s my advice; Get a credit card through the same bank as your checking and tell them to put a limit on it and not let it raise. Then lock that sucker away and forget you have it until a real emergency comes up like a flat tire, short on money for groceries, or that collector that hasn’t been paid in 4 months. You can make it on one credit card if you are strict with your money, which I am sure you don’t have a lot of.
  • Budget. Speaking of money, write out a budget for yourself. Don’t know how? Here’s the easiest way. Most people get paid bi-weekly so here’s how to do it. Make two columns, Check 1 and Check 2. If you have a full time job you know about how much your checks are going to be so put the amount at the top of each column. Now that hard part - figure out what is due when. Is something due June 1st? Take it out of check 2 (end of May). Is something due May 14? Take it out of check 1 (beginning of May). That main thought process behind your budget is that you want to have the money for a bill set aside before it’s due. Paying a bill a few days early is a great way to make a good financial reputation for yourself and for some things even build credit. Now if you get paid bi-weekly, you will sometimes have a month where you get 3 checks. DON’T BLOW IT. Put it right back into your budget as Check 1 and keep the flow going. If you prepay bills, like your car or your rent or your credit card, and stay a month a head of those big ones, you may need that wiggle room later. If your car, for instance, is paid ahead 1 month, you can use the car money you would normally pay that month for maybe some extra groceries or some small emergency without using your credit card and you won’t even fall behind! You’ll just be back to owing every month instead of being ahead. It’s like a savings account without the temptation to blow the money. 
  • Simplicity. Enjoy simple things. A gym is expensive, go for a walk instead. Cable is expensive, pay for internet. Phones are expensive, get on a family plan (there is no shame in staying on your parent’s plan, just pay your share). Food is expensive, enjoy leftovers. Movies are expensive, go early and resist any snacks. Shopping is expensive, go to the mall and spend all day trying on cute clothes and taking selfes in the dressing room (makes you feel like a million bucks sometimes!). Time is expensive because you don’t have a lot of it so If you want to stay in bed all day on your day off, do it. If you want to binge on your day off, do it. If you want to just play board games with friends on a Saturday night with a few beers, do it. Simple fun is way better for your pocket and your anxiety.
  • Mental Health  - speaking of anxiety, make sure you take care of your brain. Go outside, even if it means sitting on your steps. Wake up early, even for just an hour. Don’t burn yourself out at work or school because you will suffer the consequences. Make a schedule. If you have trouble with timekeeping, ask for help. If you feel you do have a real mental disorder, see if your employer has what’s called and EAP program (employee assistance program). They usually help you find a mental health provider and give you a few visits for free. This will help you narrow down what exactly you have and after you’re free visits are up you can see who is in your health insurance network that can provide you the mental care you need. if you are prescribed drugs, always get generic. If there is no generic, ask for an alternative. I will not lie to you, mental health is the hardest thing to treat. It took me 8 years and a lot of money to figure out the right medication cocktail for me and my bipolar/ schizophrenia (yes I have both). Turns out I only need two pills, and if I were to refill both of them right now, I wouldn’t even pay $10 thanks to my health insurance (which sucks but at least it’s there) and because I got generics. Also, talk therapy can be pricey but sometimes only a few sessions can change your life. I have literally only been to talk therapy 11 times in my life and that was to deal with PTSD, bipolar, schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies. 11 sessions. That’s 11 hours. And yeah, I paid over $400 out of pocket for those collectively. But if I hadn’t I would probably be dead right now so it was worth it.
  • Connections. Calling your friends is awesome because sometimes, it’s free therapy. And okay, maybe you’re 19 and you still have a horrible relationship with your parents. It’s okay. I am 25 and I still have problems with my parents. My whole family actually. Social media is a kind of safety net for me because that’s where I can be myself. Find where you can be yourself, it will help you stay sane.
  • Clean. Sometimes when I feel crappy, I take a shower. I clean the living room. I do the dishes. I vacuum. I mop. I open the windows. I get the trash out of the house. Change into some clean clothes. Organize my desk. Clean out your closet and put all your unwanted clothes in bags to donate. Just a small amount of cleaning can make you feel like you accomplished something. 
  • Hobbies. This one is a little hard too. It depends on your personality, your budget, and how much free time you have. Drawing , singing, and writing are free. Exercising can be free if you run or walk in the park. But most hobbies do actually cost money. Video games, playing an instrument, painting, sewing, cooking/baking, making things - those all cost money. Some of them lots of money. But you have to have a hobby outside of social network, sleeping, and working. It’s another thing to keep you sane and it’s just a good idea.
  • Toxic people. Do not be afraid to cut people out of your life that do nothing but make you feel bad about yourself or insult your life. This could mean breaking up with your partner, unfriending a person from your social circle, cutting out a whole circle of people, or even not talking to a relative(s). It’s not easy for some people but if they do not build you up, they will only tear you down. 
  • Drink at home. Okay so this one might sound like a no brainer, but I’ll explain it anyway. Packs of beer and hard liquor bottles are cheaper than a pint and a shots at the bar. Bottles of wine are cheaper than a glass at a restaurant. It’s never okay to drive drunk or even after one bottle of beer. NEVER. Staying at home is cheaper all around and you can drink in your pajamas while watching Finding Nemo on loop. Or invite some friends over and create a drinking game out of a show, a game you already have, or just talk and drink. 
  • Sleep. This one is so important. You need a good bed and a quiet, dark place to sleep. If you are scared of the dark, get a night light. Can’t sleep in silence? Get a fan. I have both of these and they help. You’re brain will feel tired if you ‘slept’ for 12 hours but only got 1 hour of REM. REM can really only happen every night if you are in a calm and dim environment. Quality of sleep will effect your eating habits, your emotional state, your mental stability, and your ability to make rational decisions among other things. 

So these are obviously just a few things, but I feel they are important to share. Please feel free to add any and reblog it for those about to enter adulthood.