checklist for life practicalities?
February 21, 2007 8:46 AM   Subscribe

What do I need to do in daily life that I don't realize I need to be doing?

I'm a recent college grad still getting used to this "real life" thing, living in an apartment for the first time.

What do I need to be careful about not forgetting? I'm looking for general life things that a person can forget to do or not know they're supposed to be doing--like changing the oil in the car, or filing taxes, or contributing to an IRA, or registering to vote, or checking abandoned property records, or doing breast self-exams, or getting a dentist appointment or booster shots for the cat...generally, things you don't realize you were supposed to have done until it's a considerable time later and you think, "shit, why didn't I do that?"

Book or (better yet) website recommendations would be ideal here. I hope this isn't too open-ended of a question.

FWIW, I don't actually have a car. I do have a cat, though, and a roommate.
posted by phoenixy to Grab Bag (58 answers total) 596 users marked this as a favorite
Renter's Insurance in an amount sufficient to replace all of your stuff if your apartment building burns down or is otherwise destroyed.
posted by decathecting at 8:51 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Keep your own checking account balance, ignore what the online balance says.

The online balance doesn't take into account today's (or even the past few day's) debit card usage, and in some cases it doesn't clear online bill pay checks until they're cashed.

Banks are starting to charge upwards of $35 per transaction when you're overdrawn instead of declining the transaction, meaning that Big Mac could cost $40!

So whether you use Excel, Quicken, MS Money, Wesabi or whatever, you have to keep track of your spending yourself or you'll get screwed.

For more "I'm just getting started out" financial advice, I benefited greatly from reading Get A Financial Life.
posted by revgeorge at 9:05 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As for a website recommendation, Digs Magazine is great for "new" adults who are getting used to being grown ups. Their forums are a wealth of information.

If you're looking for help keeping your place neat & organized, FlyLady is very helpful (but a little annoying), and I also like Organized Home.

Real Simple magazine & its corresponding website are also full of helpful advice for organizing, taking care of your home, and taking care of yourself.

The absolute *best* book on finances for young people I have ever read (and I have read a lot) is Suze Orman's book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. It is much different (and way better) from the typical condescending bullshit of "if you don't drink a latte everyday you'll be a millionaire in 5 years".

I also really truly love the Go-Girl Guide: Surviving your 20's with Soul, Savvy & Style. It's such a cheesy name, but it's such a good book.

I got a copy of Making a Home by Better Homes & Gardens awhile back on a discount rack. It actually has really great advice as to keeping track of your home and things you have to do regularly (maintenance & cleaning).

Here are some things I didn't think about when I first moved out, but wish I had.

- Always have a plunger and know how to use it.
- Clean your toilet at least every week, trust me.
- Go to your dentist for a teeth cleaning every 6 months. Once you have a dentist, they will usually send you a reminder postcard when it's time to make your next appointment. The same goes for a vet.
- Pizza is easy but will make you fat if you eat it too much.
- Learn some quick, easy recipes and get a crockpot.
- Nature's Miracle is the best product to clean up cat accidents and any other biological fluid stains/smells (e.g. vomit)
- Don't forget to get your car inspected and registered when it's due for it. Also keep track of when it's due for large services in addition to getting the oil changed every 3 months.
- Get a yearly physical from your primary care physician. Having a primary care physician is important, this way you have someone to see when you get sick instead of having to go to a doc-in-the-box.
- Make a spreadsheet of all the bills you have to pay and your average costs for groceries, gas, etc. Figure out how much you have left over, so you know what you really have to work with each month.
- Don't buy books, get a library card.
- Have a basic tool kit, a first aid kit, and a sewing kit on hand.
posted by tastybrains at 9:07 AM on February 21, 2007 [46 favorites]

Best answer: Check you a/c filter monthly. Replace as necessary. Your landlord should be able to show you how to do it.
posted by 6:1 at 9:07 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get a credit card (or two), and pay it (them) off at the end of each month. Build your credit history. Makes mortgages/loans/etc easier later.

If you have student loans, don't rush to pay them off early to the detriment of your savings. Try to get to the point of having 3 months of living expenses in the bank. Then you can worry about paying off student loans early.

If your company has 401k matching, contribute and take advantage (FREE MONEY).

If you have an IRA/401K don't put all your money in just 1 fund, and especially not just 1 stock, and especially, especially not your own companies stock. Thats like gambling. Learn to diversify and not chase the fads.
posted by gomess at 9:15 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Eat vegetables everyday.
posted by milarepa at 9:15 AM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Save for retirement, no matter the amount.

The difference in eventual totals between two people who do EVERY OTHER THING IDENTICALLY in strategy and amount but one starts 10 years earlier is mind-blowing. Even if you make just $15,000 a year for the rest of you life, if you put away 2% every year for 20 years it's $19k at typical returns. Do it for 30 years and it's $56.5k, 3 times as much.

It's just mind-blowing, I think, that you do something just 50% more and your payoff becomes THREE times higher.

Aside from the increased payoff, the sooner you make it a habit the sooner you'll stop missing the money. Get used to saving now at your lower income rate (since I assume you'll get paid more as you age) and you'll miss it less later when it's an even larger quantity.
posted by phearlez at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

exercise everyday. even if you don't feel like you need it. Age has a way of slowing the metabolism and packing on the pounds. Your heart will thank you.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:22 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

write down everything you spend (ideally on excel) and categorise... i was shocked where some of my money was going... make your own lunch, read news online not on paper.

Make a payment to your savings every month, however small.

Shop around for insurance.

Freeze stuff.
posted by tomw at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

What I should have done sooner:

Learn to cook.
Be on top of my finances.

Fat and broke is no fun at all.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:41 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Invest real effort in genuine friendships.
posted by utsutsu at 9:47 AM on February 21, 2007 [16 favorites]

Check your credit report annually.

Keep a hard copy of your phone numbers (not just in your cell phone).

When you're able, buy good knives and keep them sharp.

Keeping the house tidy daily means not having to spend a whole day cleaning it every weekend (or a whole weekend every month).

Take the trash out regularly to avoid stinky kitchens.

Scoop the litter daily to avoid cat accidents and to keep the place smelling nicer.

Take photos whenever possible. Life moves fast and memories get fuzzy.

If you can afford it, get a copy of Money or Quicken. Excel spreadsheets never worked for me. Money changed my financial life.

Read "Millionaire Next Door". That changed my life too.

Tell the people you care about that you love them (assuming you do).

Don't buy things on credit unless absolutely, positively necessary. Cars, TVs, Cameras, etc. should all be purchased only when you can buy in cash. [note: I bought my Honda on credit, it's my only debt - you can do better]

Magazines & weekly newspaper circulars lead to consumer lust. Don't buy 'em, don't subscribe to 'em.

Get rid of the clutter. Things mean very little. It's amazing how little you really need in this world. Live with as little of it around you as you can.

Travel. As often, and as cheaply as you can without going into debt. I wish I'd started doing real travel sooner. I wish I could do even more of it. It's a big, beautiful world.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:52 AM on February 21, 2007 [21 favorites]

Get a passport if you don't already have one. NOW.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:54 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

One things I have found particularly satisfying is to keep a record of things that I do on a daily basis. Not a full journal, but little jotted notes in a notebook (in my case it's also used for tracking money/finances). For example, yesterday would be approximately:

lunch soup @ hcp
chicken + couscous dinner
zomg benadryl sleep

It gives me a general idea of the events that are going on (that don't include work or staring at computers) and it takes about ten seconds a day.

If you can find someone to eat dinner with, I also highly recommend it. Take turns cooking and washing. It makes the whole concept of dinner infinitely better, and cheaper too. Eating with someone is almost always nicer than eating alone.

Your list is actually a pretty excellent one. Other general things I would add are: regular apartment cleanings (once a week), daily physical activity, and balance your spending. Don't be too much of a tightwad that you never splurge on something awesome, but don't spend more than you make.
posted by that girl at 9:55 AM on February 21, 2007 [5 favorites]

Lots of good stuff here. I'd add:

Don't worry.

Life comes at you fast enough as it is. Take some of the suggestions here, add them to what you're already doing well, try and cut out some of the bad habits, and don't be lazy.

Balance rest/play with appropriate amounts of work, and balance your attitude in a similar manner - be responsible but remember, most of this stuff doesn't matter that much.

Or, as Chuck would say, its all about attitude.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:03 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: wear sunscreen
posted by parmanparman at 10:07 AM on February 21, 2007 [11 favorites]

Best answer: As someone who has had a recent break-in (which hopefully you will never experience) Keep a list of all your moderately expensive/pawnable items with serial numbers, it will make it easier to get your stuff back and will hopefully keep the thieves from actually being able to pawn your stuff. Also keep a list of numbers of credit card companies that you have cards with so if your wallet is stolen you have a quick list of companies to call and cancel the cards.
posted by estronaut at 10:08 AM on February 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

Sunscreen (with UVA protection), seriously. It's an easy way to cross a cancer off your list.
posted by the jam at 10:16 AM on February 21, 2007

Floss. Scrub out your water filter pitcher on a regular basis. List your goals for the next 5/10/20 years and make sure you're doing things that will help move you towards accomplishing them.
posted by vytae at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2007

Get a safe deposit box to hold your important documents (SS card, passport, list of expensive items and receipts for insurance, etc.) in case of fire or break-in.

Along with getting your car registered and inspected, make sure you have your county/city sticker if your county/city does that.

If you have income that is not taxed (freelance income, for example), be sure to set a percentage aside for taxes later.

Get a snow shovel / rock salt / sand, if you get wintery weather where you live.
posted by geeky at 10:32 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do NOT let the everyday things build up. It is much easier to clean a thin layer of soap scum in your shower than a thick layer. It is easier to wash the 5 fresh dishes in the sink than the 25 old, smelly ones.
One of the hardest adjustments of living on your own, as an adult, is acknowledging that there are things you need to do again and again. Some things need to be done daily, some weekly, some monthly, and some annually. The sooner you can accept it, the better.
Daily: Scooping the poop, dishes
Weekly: vacuuming, laundry...
Monthly: rent and bills...
Annually: taxes... fill in as needed...
And the things you need to do just keep coming. Don't get behind.
If you don't pay your bills immediately, write the due date on the envelope, put them in a safe place, not in a pile of general mail to be looked at later.
posted by bobobox at 10:33 AM on February 21, 2007 [7 favorites]

Seconding: get a dentist appointment. Call for one today if you don't already have a dentist. A cleaning will be under $100; appointments often will occur a couple of months from when you make them (depending on the city), so if you like to leave things to the last minute you won't get to the dentist. Then it will gradually be 4 years since you've been, and in the meantime you may have developed problems that will end up being VERY expensive to fix (eg $3K per tooth). Make the next appointment when you are at your checkup, even if you don't know what your schedule will be six months from now. If you have an appointment you can work around it, but if you "wait until you see how things shape up", you'll never make the next appointment, and then you'll be paying several grand at a time not of your choosing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:33 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Youngish women tend to concentrate on cardio when they think about exercise, but you should also be doing some weight-bearing exercise to ward off osteoporosis. Also, stretch every day. It's a total cliche, but wear sunscreen.
posted by craichead at 10:34 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also: get a wall calendar and tack it up somewhere in your apartment, maybe near the phone. Put on it:
- when your rent and bills are due, if you are prone to forget them
- on April 1, put "do taxes"
- when your car registration etc needs to be renewed.
- your dentist appointment!
- when to mail birthday cards (for family etc) so they get there on time
etc. Cross off each day as it happens.

Also, lots of good answers in this thread.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:44 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

When someone is talking to you, instead of formulating what witty thing you're going to say in reply and then waiting impatiently for them to be done talking so you can premier your new feat of intellect, try just looking at their eyes and listening to what they say.

Do that genuinely, and that alone will cause people to think of you as a good friend.
posted by Darth Fedor at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2007 [24 favorites]

There are some very good suggestions here. I agree strongly with the "go to the dentist/doctor" crowd. When you are young there may be times that you are going to be uninsured. Do not put off check-ups and cleanings because of it. You will regret it later.

A couple things that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

As you get older, your brain cells will calcify and die if they are not exercised. You need to always be exposing yourself to new ideas, new people, new music, new art, new literature. If you get all your news from the same three sources, hang out with the same five people, listen to the same 50 albums etc., then you run the risk of waking up one day as one of those sad old bastards that watch Fox News all day and wonder why all the music/TV/art/books that come out these days are crap and why high school was the time in their life they were happiest. You don't have to change who you are constantly, but you need to always be experiencing things that can change you. A new album and book by an artist whose work you have never been exposed to at least once a month is a good goal I think. Talking to people in your life beyond your normal peer group is a good way to get exposed to new ideas and people.

You should decrease the amount of toxicity in your life as much as possible. You may have people in your life who are bad for you and make you feel like crap all the time. You may think that you can't remove these people from your life for any number of reasons. You can and you should. The same goes for toxic substances. If you can drink occasionally or do other things and handle it, fine. If there are substances in your life that are toxic, and you are aware of the fact that they are hurting you, if they decrease your quality of life, then do whatever it takes to remove those substances from your life.

Your older relatives are not going to be around forever, and they may not be the same towards the end. Enjoy them now. Ask them about their past. How did they meet their husband/wife? What are their memories of some historical event? You have a limited amount of time to make memories with these people. Take advantage of it.
posted by ND¢ at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2007 [25 favorites]

Save for the unexpected, or a rainy day as the saying goes. Things will break and if you are living paycheck to paycheck or putting all your savings in an retirement account that is difficult to get at before a certain age, you won't be able to cover necessary but possibly unforeseen problems. You should of course be saving for retirement as others have suggested but try to keep some available for the rainy day that may come sooner than you might hope.
posted by bobobox at 11:09 AM on February 21, 2007

Buy a Fire Extinguisher!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:11 AM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

You've already learned to ask for advice.

Read the graduation speech that starts with "wear sunscreen" that was not written by Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Avoid unnecessary expenses. If you only watch network TV, don't spring for a cable package--just get a set-top antenna. And if you have a cell phone, avoid getting a landline if possible. Open a window or run the ceiling fan instead of the A/C when it's hot; cuddle with your cat and a blanket when it's cold instead of blasting on the heat.

Shop around for insurance.

Avoid impulse purchases.

Offload extra stuff to Goodwill regularly. Haven't worn that shirt in a year? Send it away. Don't forget to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes!

Limit yourself to one restaurant meal a week, if not fewer. Buy groceries and supplies in bulk at the cheaper outlets--if you see a bunch of Jags and Benzes in the parking lot, get out.

Your $15 haircut is probably just as good as a $50 haircut.

Ride a bike or the bus when possible. Gas, maintenance expenses, and downtown parking fees add up in a hurry.

Prepare a zombie survival kit in your car and plan your escape route. I know I have.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 12:11 PM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Routines help. If you "try" to workout a couple times a week, you might miss a week or two and then completely lose it. If you play basketball every Wednesday and softball every Saturday, you won't forget.
posted by callmejay at 12:28 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Get a smoke alarm and test it regularly.

Back up your computer to an external hard disk as often as you can.

Get a couple of box files and file bank statements, bills, insurance policies, job documentation. Then it's all there when you need it.

Keep your CV up to date and check job ads every time you read the paper.

Find a mentor - get to know the more experienced people in your workplace as well as those on your level.

Change the hoover bag and clean the oven regularly.

And what everyone else has said!

(On preview, this whole post looks like a whole heap of chores - but most of them are things that done often will save you time and hassle in the long run - and are things that the rest of us have learnt the hard way!)
posted by finding.perdita at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Take a multivitamin every morning with breakfast.
posted by limeonaire at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2007

Whenever you're doing a budget, overbudget everything (a great example of this are those amateur house flipping shows on TLC - seems like every single show they start with a very strict budget and end up spending twice that)

Also in the original post, IRAs were mentioned, and I didn't know if that included Roth IRAs. If you're going to be working for a while yet, they can be a phenomenal deal.
posted by chndrcks at 1:12 PM on February 21, 2007

Pratice yoga and/or meditate. Give up all concepts of God. Dentist appointment. Get a good quality kithen knife. Put money away but remember, regular checking and savings accounts are terrible. Try ING. I reccommend this book to everyone for finances. Depending on your personality, this quote.

Waiting for the obligatory GTD post...
posted by philad at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

While the "build your credit" idea is a good one, once you get a credit card or two, remember this above all else: if you don't have the cash to buy it, you don't really need it.

Be open to new experiences.

In most things life-related, there's no right answer. There's the answer you choose, and the answer you don't. Just make sure your reasons for choosing the answer you do are sound, and you'll be OK.

Don't hoard things. Books, CD's, sweaters, toys, whatever, they can all be resold and replaced with new ones. if you keep everything you've ever owned forever, you're just going to be dragging your past around with you like an anchor.

Second the multivitamin, nth the floss.

Surround yourself with friends that don't care if you don't talk to them for three weeks at a stretch (but make sure you do talk to them more often than that).
posted by pdb at 2:59 PM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Make sure you have a flashlight available so that you won't be left in the dark when the power goes out.
posted by ssg at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2007

Wow this thread is amazing.

I would add: join a church. Was the best thing that ever happened to me.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lots of good advice here. I'll add my two cents...

Make your bed every day -- as soon as you get up. Something about that one small thing sets the tone for the rest of the day; are you going to be lazy, or are you going to get something done? Also, no matter how clean the rest of your home is, it won't feel really clean until the bed is made; and if your home is pig sty, well, at least the bed is made!

Check your furnace filter regularly (a clogged furnace filter can set your home fire, or at least cost you a small fortune on your monthly bill).

Don't skip breakfast.

In line with the sunscreen suggestions, wear sunglasses. It will help protect you from macular degeneration and possibly cataracts in your old age.

Vacuum your furniture every couple of weeks -- you have no idea how much dead skin you may be wallowing in. Plus it will make your furniture last longer.

Open the steam release valve on your hot water heater (if you've got one in your apartment) every few months and completely drain it at least once a year.

Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when daylight savings time starts and ends. If you don't have a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector, go get one -- NOW!

Keep extra lightbulbs in an easy-to-get-to place.

Keep a flashlight under your bed for when the power goes out and you have to go potty in the middle of the night.

If you cook a meal that takes a lot of time/effort (like chili, lasagna, or homemade tomato sauce), make a bunch of it, separate the left-overs into single-portions and freeze it.

Back up your computer. If you're a windows user, you'll also want to defrag your hard drive regularly.

Get a nice label-maker and use it to label your files. If you're like me, you hate filing stuff, but somehow playing with the label-maker makes it a little more tolerable. It also makes me look more organized than I actually am.

Learn how to properly jump-start a vehicle. Even though you don't drive, it is likely that at some point, you'll be stuck with someone who's got a dead battery and no idea how to get the thing started -- you'll be a hero. Oh, and when you eventually get a car, carry jumper cables in your trunk.

Remember this piece of advice (I wish I knew who first said it)... There's a reason why you have two ears and only one mouth. It really is true that the less you say, the more intelligent people think you are.

By the same token, when you talk to people, let them spend the bulk of the time talking about themselves. The more they talk about themselves, the more interesting they'll think you are.
posted by jknecht at 3:42 PM on February 21, 2007 [27 favorites]

Some car-specific stuff:

Check your tire pressure about once a month. Under-inflated tires wear out faster, drag down your gas mileage, and can be dangerous - a blowout at highway speed is amazingly unpleasant.

Make sure your car has a jack and a lug wrench IN IT. You'd be amazed how often you buy a used car, and the first time you get a flat tire you find out it doesn't have one, or both of these. Or a spare tire, in fact! For bonus points, replace the stock jack and lug wrench with a hydraulic jack and one of the big plus-shaped lug wrenches, both of which you can buy at an auto parts store. They make changing a tire a hundred times simpler. Believe me, you'll have to do it some night, in the rain.

Look at the owner's manual for your car. It will have a "maintenance schedule," which is a table that shows how often all regular maintenance should be done. Pay attention to ALL of that stuff, not just oil. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, tire rotations, etc. Make notes about when this stuff needs to get changed, and stay on top of it. It's important.

On a related note, try to find out what the typical mileage death is for parts like the radiator, clutch, transmission, etc in your particular car. I happen to know that in my car the radiators tend to last about 100-120k miles, so I'm going to replace mine shortly. It'll cost me the same as if I wait for it to blow up, and save me the part where you get stranded and have to call a tow truck. I read a web site specific to my car which has forums where one could ask stuff like this. I'm sure they exist for most major brands/models.

When you notice a weird noise or a weird smell, get it checked out as soon as you can. Problems with cars start small and tend to get bigger the longer you ignore them. I ignored an oil leak in my first car until it caught on fire. Seeing my car reduced to a cinder on the side of a highway, and causing a massive rush-hour traffic jam, was an interesting experience, but I wouldn't recommend it or add it to your Netflix queue.


Nth saving for retirement; others above have given good specific tips. Note also that 401k and IRAs usually let you withdraw about $10k from them "early" for a down-payment on a first house. These can be a great investment vehicle for that purpose as well as retirement.

Nth getting a yearly credit report. It's free now, by federal law. Make sure you don't pay for one, or pay to get "credit protection" or other unnecessary crap.

Get an ING Direct savings account, and use that instead of your bank savings account for emergency cash. They give 4.75% interest; your bank will probably give 0.5%.

Find a credit union and open an account there. Get loans through them, instead of your regular bank. Because a credit union is essentially a non-profit cooperative, it's in their interest to give very low interest rates on loans, rather than very high ones. I have a CU account with a $20 balance, and that was enough for me to get a car loan at something like 5% instead of 7-8%.
posted by autojack at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2007 [7 favorites]

Another thing I thought of - join a roadside assistance program like AAA so you can get a tow or whatever if necessary. I particularly like AAA not only because of the roadside assistance, but because of the discounts I get all over the place because of it. It's more than paid for itself over the years.
posted by tastybrains at 5:00 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same place in life, so I only have notes on what other people have said:

Take the multivitamin, but make sure you take it after eating and not before on an empty stomach, otherwise that vitamin might just come back up. (Learned recently from personal experience.)

Definitely get Triple A if you don't have it. There's nothing scarier than realizing that you've locked your keys in the car after dark in a parking lot in the middle of a not-so-great area, except realizing that even if you call your parents in this situation there's not much they can do to help. I did this recently and Triple A had someone there in 10 minutes, so I love them right now.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Learn to cook vegetables.

A dollar bottle of hydrogen peroxide can be used in many different and economical ways.

A dollar box of Arm and Hammer baking soda can be used in many different and economical ways.

The world is full of different kinds of people, many of whom grew up in dysfunctional families. Certain patterns and behaviors are more workable to deal with, work with or live with than others. The typical roles for people who grew up in a dysfuntional and/or addicted family play out in work, friendship, love and career arenas.

There will be people one meets or comes across in life with personality disorders. It's worth knowing about them. There are 4 destructive personality disorders in particular (NPD, BPD, ASPD, HPD) found in people who have power or fame. Try to avoid, when possible, having a close relationship with anyone with a destructive personality disorder.

Posting about your personal life online may come back to bite you. Be aware that what you put in print, online, in letters, on paper may be around in decades to come.

Intelligent prople often suffer from chronic low-grade or acute depression.

Asking a group of people is a great way to get anecdotal, practical, real-life information.

Breaking up really hurts but it's less damaging than staying in any kind of abusive relationship. Abuse means a pattern of hurtful behavior, not just the occasional ouch that comes as part of the life journey.

Knowing about the Glycemic Index of foods will help you make better decisions about what foods offer real energy and which ones take you up on a blood sugar rush and then leave you to crash. Knowing about the GI will also prevent you from unwittingly getting Type 2 diabetes.

Reading A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman helped me understand the differences between men and women when it comes to relationships.

Practical platitudes: Life is not so much about what you get but what you do with what you get. Suffering is part of life. Learn to feel your feelings. Wherever you go, there you are. Everything is impermanent. Happiness is worth talking about and learning about.

Be true to who you are and when others tell you that is idealistic, it's because they have lost their way to one degree or another. When you put on a false face to others they are seeing a lie and their response will not nourish what is meaningful to you.
posted by nickyskye at 7:50 PM on February 21, 2007 [38 favorites]

Oh, another car thing I should perhaps have specified - don't just CHANGE your oil often, but CHECK it. If you develop a leak, or you own a car that burns oil, it's really important that you figure this out before the oil light on the dash comes on. By that time, your engine is _very_ sad. I try to check mine every other time I get gas.
posted by autojack at 8:27 PM on February 21, 2007

Pay off your student loans.

I learned this the hard way. For the first year or so after I graduated college, I did everything I could to avoid talking to the student loan people. Big mistake. The money that I should have been paying in interest was "recapitalized," which meant that it went back into the loan... which I then had to pay interest on. One of my student loans was particularly bad, because they started reporting me to the credit people.

So yeah, be in touch with the student loan people. They often can make arrangements with you to reduce your payments. Even if you can't afford to make payments towards the principal, you can at least make interest payments. This will keep the man off your back, and will prevent the dreaded recapitalization.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:33 PM on February 21, 2007

Get laid. A lot. Use protection without fail.
posted by DonnieSticks at 11:09 PM on February 21, 2007

Use real passwords (especially never use dictionary words, from any language). For online banking and anything else important, use a unique password in each case (unlike any other password you use elsewhere).

Back up all data you care about, onto an external drive, EVERY DAY (if you do weekly backups: would you really be fine with losing a week of work?). Use backup software if you need, or just do it every night while you brush your teeth.
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:06 AM on February 22, 2007

I disagree with joining a church. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

Agreeing with everyone - taking care of a problem while it's small (doing the few dishes in the sink, picking up a bit of clutter) beats taking care of that problem when it's big.

A tip I read recently on a frugality blog - check what your car owner's manual says about oil changes and such... it might not be every 3 months.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:36 AM on February 22, 2007

Learn how to sew a button and to do simple needlework repairs.

Dust and vacuum your living space about once a week.

If you work on the computer, take regular stretch breaks and eye rest breaks. I'm really bad at this, so what I do is mark out several empty checkboxes for stretch breaks on the word-of-the-day calendar on my desk and make sure I've checked them off by the time I leave the office.

Get away somehow once every season - a weekend trip, a longer trip, anything. This will shake up your head and get you out of your life and skin for a bit, and it will give you something to look forward to every quarter of the year.
posted by cadge at 7:45 AM on February 22, 2007 [5 favorites]

I can attest to the making the bed everyday tip mentioned earlier - It really does seem to make the day go better. Also, in another post, someone mentioned something that really stuck with me and I thought worth repeating: you have a paper life and a regular life - learn to manage both.
posted by philad at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Find a good mechanic. Most dealerships blatantly overcharge, and a lot of other places will scam you right and left. That goes double if you're female. Even if you have a good warranty to cover work on your car through a dealership, don't count on them to treat you fairly after your warranty runs out--trust me on this one. For most people, cars are mysterious things, so for most mechanics, it's all about your wallet.

So this is one area where the 'good old boy' network will come in handy. I recommend that wherever you are--and especially if you've just moved for college--find someone older whom you trust (who knows a thing or two about cars) and ask them if they can recommend a good mechanic. If you can walk into a garage with the message that someone they know sent you, you're much more likely to end up getting good service from someone you can trust.
posted by zebra3 at 11:35 AM on February 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't piss into the wind.
posted by premortem at 9:07 PM on February 24, 2007

nth the floss here too - god almighty... just do it. Floss. Don't make me come over there. And just spend the bucks for a Sonicare tootbrush of some sort. You and your dentist will be happier for it in the long run.

There's a throwaway line in Peggy Sue Got Married that really says it all about life and your teeth:

Peggy Sue: Grandpa, if you had a chance to go back and do it all differently, what would you have changed?

Grandpa: Well, I would have taken better care of my teeth.

One of the hardest adjustments of living on your own, as an adult, is acknowledging that there are things you need to do again and again.

Hoo boy, yeah. Wash, rinse, repeat. Mind. Numbing. Ennui.

I have a list of things in my life that I would like to eliminate, and many of them are these day-to-day tasks: laundry, washing dishes, cleaning my house, cleaning my bathroom, taking out the trash, etc. It's those types of things more than position, power or prestige that make me want to make more money. Just the ability to pay someone else to do those things.

But yeah, I second everyone saying to do those small things regularly, even on a scheduled basis.

Also... life is too short for bad beer or bad coffee. If you partake in either of those, learn more about them and try more and more and more of them. Americans have been cheated on good beer and coffee right up until the last 20 years or so. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 11:45 AM on February 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

The first step to financial well being is understanding what you spend. I think in the past this required keeping your checkbook well annotated and keeping receipts and writing shit down. blah blah blah paper ink blah blah.

Nowadays all it requires is using your debit card to pay for things as often as you can. Take your statement out of the envelope when it arrives, look it over, and make sure you know what everything is. It's possible you're getting charged for an old phone line or an old pron subscription you've forgotten.

And, like looking over a grocery receipt, this will help reveal the big, expensive items you really didn't need to spend on. Whenever I look at my grocery receipt, I think "damn, I need to quit drinking coffee," because it's something like a $10 charge every single week. Similarly, I spend a lot of time trying to keep my energy bill down but a look at my credit card statement the other day lit up the lightbulb: "hey idiot, you're paying way too much for cable."

As for roommate suggestions:

1) Pick your battles. Don't get worked up over every little thing. Everyone has their quirks that won't fit in perfectly with your expectations. Learn to give people some latitude and ask for some as well. Flexibility makes for a happy home.

2) Once you've picked a battle, though, be sure to handle it right. Let the person know if they're doing something wrong and let them know early. Don't wait until you're all angry and righteous. Ask them if they see the problem and if they are willing to change it for you. Recognize that you're asking them to do things YOUR way and not necessarily "The Right Way."
posted by scarabic at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

My hypothesis: nobody ever died from too much laughter, even in the midst of despairing hard times.

Test it.
posted by mcbeth at 4:24 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Buy a good (ergonomic) commuter bag, your back will thank you.

Walk to lunch as much as possible.

Find three good bottles of wine for under $20.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:12 AM on December 19, 2007

Buy a toolbox and a rechargeable battery kit. It sucks when you need a hammer or a wrench at 2 am.

For a clogged toilet, pour some liquid dishwashers soap (about a tablespoon), wait a minute or two, and use the plunger. I swear it's magic.

Find a doctor, a gyn, a dentist, and a vet near your home. Ask for recommendations. Last year, I had food poisoning and I couldn't find a damn doctor. I ended up lying on a kid-sized exam table in a pediatrician's office, who misdiagnosed me with Typhoid. My last option was a veterinarian friend of mine, and I'm sure she would have done a better diagnosis.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

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