Growing up, phase 2.
August 14, 2014 6:21 PM   Subscribe

I finally have my act together, on a very basic level. What are the next steps to becoming a full-fledged adult?

I am 33. Most of my "adulthood" thus far has been spent being out and out homeless, couch surfing and renting bedrooms off of Craigslist. I have worked hard in the past 2 years to:

-have a healthy, functional romantic relationship
-a full-time job that is career material
-a modest apartment in a good neighborhood
-several healthy, functional friendships
-pay my rent and bills on time; always have money for healthy food
-improving relationships in my family

What's next? What are the basic, babiest of steps to start moving toward a solid middle class lifestyle, developing hobbies (that do not involve alcohol) and fostering better relationships with people in my life? Did anyone ever slowly move from poverty and survival mode to a comfortable life?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
posted by goethean at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2014

Like anyone ever knows! But probably learning to cook (only you know the level at which you're comfortable, but when you think "I know how to cook", you know how to cook) and learning to save money.

Really, I don't know if you can really ever learn to be "an adult" without having a kid, and there's nothing that can really prepare you for that. So either have a kid or just enjoy where you're at. You sound like you're in a really good place.
posted by Pacrand at 6:40 PM on August 14, 2014

Congratulations! Feel proud and happy that you've accomplished something really important to you. Now you can plan for the future, rather than just surviving to the next day, week, month. Now you can save for retirement and vacations, or future college fund or anything else. The sky is the limit and the world is your oyster, truthfully. Cultivate some hobbies and take pleasure in the little things. It's near impossible to break free of the poverty mindset and endless cycle of debt and the harmful coping mechanisms developed to sustain a living. You've achieved something, I think it's ok to rest on your laurels, but I'm sure others have more concrete advice.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:43 PM on August 14, 2014

Start saving money. Set up automatic transfers into a savings account on every payday. Ideally also save for retirement in tax-deferred 401k/IRA type plan. But start a regular old savings account as soon as you can.
posted by something something at 6:43 PM on August 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

You did all that in two years?! Wow, good for you, amazing job. It takes most people much, much longer, like ten years. For now, I would aim to save money for whatever, house, kid, crisis. Make sure your health is good, start an excercise program, even if it's just walking, learn how to cook will help save money and keep you healthy and if you have time, try and learn new things. Read newspapers, get word of the day! Do soduko. Or maybe do a free course online on Philosophy or learning guitar via YouTube. Keep your brain active and develop interests. And there's always volunteering. But don't take on too much, and make sure it's fun.
posted by Jubey at 6:47 PM on August 14, 2014 [8 favorites]

Save money. Ideally, try to put 10% of every dollar you make into something that earns money. A pre-tax retirement fund is great, but even a savings account is better than spending everything you make. Start saving with your next paycheck. I WILL BE WATCHING YOU.
posted by pheide at 6:49 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Good for you! If it is really a solid middle class lifestyle that you seek, I would encourage you to start improving your credit score so that you get a decent rate should you decide to buy a home (and a good credit score helps make it easier to get an apartment, and in some cases, unfortunately, even a job).

So, apply for a couple low interest, no fee credit cards and pay off your balance each month. Ideally, choose cards with some sort of reward program and never buy anything that you can't, at this very moment, afford.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:58 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

So, apply for a couple low interest, no fee credit cards and pay off your balance each month. Ideally, choose cards with some sort of reward program and never buy anything that you can't, at this very moment, afford.

If you don't have any credit, you may not have a lot of flexibility in which cards you can get at first. I had to get a secured card from my bank. Basically, you give them money that they hold in an account, and your credit limit is that amount of money. This protects them from you failing to pay the balance. Use it and pay it off every month to start establishing a credit history and show that you can handle it.

Once you've proven that you're responsible (I don't remember how long this took), they'll give you the cash back and it becomes a normal credit card. At that point, you can probably apply for something with a better interest rate and decent rewards, but don't' close the first card -- part of your credit score has to do with how long you've had your accounts open and longer is better.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:01 PM on August 14, 2014

Save money, for an emergency fund and separately for retirement.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:03 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely make saving money a priority, but allow yourself to indulge in culturally and spiritually enriching pursuits as well, for these will help you become a more fully self-realized adult. Sign up for membership at a contemporary art museum, watch an experimental play at your local theater, spend an evening in a jazz club, go wine tasting, explore different faiths, etc.
posted by tackypink at 8:54 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also: Have fun. Part of being a good grown up is allowing yourself to do enjoyable activities from time to time just because you want to. Not spending more than you have because you "deserve" to have a treat (how advertisers love to tell us we deserve to buy their products). Just enjoyable things. Mine is library books and going to movies at actual movie theaters. Also bowling. It doesn't have to be expensive it just needs to bring you a bit of joy. That's part of a balanced life. Guilt-free pleasure.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:35 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding cooking... and from that, providing generous, informal meals for half a dozen or so close friends with no expectation of the favour ever being returned.

Foster close friendships with (non-family) people a generation or more older than you.

Give a half day a month, or more, of your time working for a voluntary organisation.

Physically nurture things. If kids or pets are out of the question, plants work well; even a small herb box brings a lot of satisfaction.

Spend from time to time on "boring" items that make an everyday difference to your enjoyment of life; for me some examples are good bedding and towels, nice desk lamps, a decent office stool.
posted by protorp at 12:38 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me volunteering was a really useful step for me, both in developing a deeper sense of myself and my abilities, engagement with life, the satisfaction of helping others and a sense of agency and potential in changing even a little corner of the world.
posted by Middlemarch at 2:49 PM on August 15, 2014

« Older Did you have a Lexiscan? How did it go?   |   gmail tabbed inbox on ios or os x apps? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.