As much as it would be nice for all of us to turn into mermaids and unicorns and prance away (or swim), there will come a time in your life where you realize that this is not something that you will be evolving into anytime soon. I know, I was pretty upset when I found out.
I just had a birthday this past Tuesday and turned 28. It was probably one of the best birthdays I ever had. I had cupcakes, friends celebrating with me, a nice dinner, balloons, and I even got my first tiara (I always wanted one of those. Dreams do come true people!). It was fantastic!
And then I realized something…
It has literally been 10 years since I was 18… I have been an “Adult” for 10 YEARS!!! And that makes me… old (To some of you anyway).
If you’re in a country outside the US, your “adulting” age might be 21 or 20. It’s still crazy to think that in the United States, I have been expected to vote, pay attention to politics, be independent, and move on from a part-time “making it” job to a career for 10 whole years.
With job apps, online profiles such as LinkedIn, and technology, you would think it would be easier in this generation to chase a career, buy a house, and pay off debt… but…. it just seems harder than ever.
Welcome to being a Millennial.
I’ve also heard quite a bit of Millennial bashing some from the older generation, but surprisingly from the Millennials themselves. I once watched a young college student rip apart everything that was wrong with the Millennials of today. Although there was much truth to her statements, she forgot one thing… She is a Millennial.
You’ve probably heard everything by now. Millennials are clueless, have no work ethic, and have no self-respect. Sadly those may be some qualities that may stick out in our generation, but they don’t have to be. Sure it’s going to take effort on your part to stick out against the grain, but it’s something that CAN be done. I’m not going to even pretend like I have it all together, but in today’s post I’m going to share with you some things I wish someone would have told me when I turned 18. Some of these might be a little straight forward, but I promise they will help.
Get a credit card.
Yes, that is the first tip I’m sharing with you. To the generation that is in the most debt. Yes, get a credit card. But here’s the catch, you can’t use it. What??? Then why do I need to get one. Great question my young Padawan (I’m such a nerd…), here’s why. When you decide to apply for your first apartment and you want to live by yourself, your credit has to be high enough for you to be approved. This isn’t just about how good you are with your money either, it’s also about how long you have established credit under your name and social security number. You most likely won’t be able to just walk into any bank and ask for a card either. Your credit may not even be high enough to do that yet. Instead, check to see if there are any student credit cards or a credit union that you can be approved for. You will probably only be approved for under $1000 (I think my first card was approved for $300). Use it ONLY to make purchases for things like gas or paying your phone bill, and pay it off IMMEDIATELY.
You will want to select a card with the lowest interest you can get to begin with, but those rates can add up if you don’t pay off your card on time. Late payments will also only hurt your credit score. Your credit card is not a bonus to your paycheck, it’s borrowed numbers that you owe. If you have a bad habit with spending, destroy the card as soon as you get it. You will still have the account, but you won’t have a card to go shopping with. Take a few financial seminars and when you feel like you’re ready to be responsible, call your card company back and request a new card. Sure your credit score won’t grow for making payments but it will for the length of time you’ve had credit. Your credit score goes up and you don’t have massive debt from ordering too many subscription boxes. Win!
Just make sure you check in with your bank’s “minimum purchase” clause before applying.
Get a job even if it’s part time to begin with
Depending on where you’re at in life and what you can afford to do, you may be in college. If you’re able to afford going full-time, that is absolutely fantastic! I couldn’t wish for anything better for you to get your education and graduate debt free. Unfortunately, that is not the case with most people.
Just Google, “Student Loan Debt 2017”. Americans currently owe 1.4 trillion dollars in student debt. That’s A LOT of money! If there is any way to get a scholarship or grant by all means, Go for it! But any type of debt you may owe will not pay itself. And even if you’re choosing to not go to college just yet, being independent can be pretty expensive even with a roommate. You may not have any pressing expenses at the moment. Maybe you and your parents have an agreement for you to stick around until you find your own place. That can work too if you have a good relationship with them. But if you have more than 3hrs a day of free time, after the necessities like sleeping, studying, showering, eating, and pooping, you have plenty of time to get a part-time job (no, Netflix is not on the necessities list). Even if you don’t need the money at the moment, a summer of working a part time job can easily pay for your first month’s rent at your new place or to furniture you may need for your first apartment.
Set up an emergency savings account and an auto savings plan
Once you get your job, you will most likely set up your direct deposit with your company. If direct deposit is an option set up a second automatic deposit to your savings account. This will be your “Don’t touch fund”. This is for crappy stuff like when you have a flat tire, need a filling replaced, or an unexpected vet appointment. Nothing is worse than having an emergency expense and frantically trying to figure out how you will pay for it. Even if it’s just $20 a pay check, it adds up quick!
Plan your days
A fitness trainer once told me, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. She couldn’t be more right! Sure it’s fun every now and then to have a late night and hang out with friends, but when you hit your mid 20’s your body will start to tell you that it’s sleep deprived, your wallet will tell you it’s starving, and your stomach will remind you that your fridge is empty. Plan your day for grocery shopping, going to the gym, working, studying, household responsibilities, and some time for fun. You don’t need to have a fancy journal to do this. You can use the calendar on your phone. It will give you an estimate of how much time you have in a week and make plans realistically.
Learn to say “No”
It’s funny how the first words we usually learn to say is “no” yet we completely forget how to say it when we become adults. I’m not talking about being rude or blowing people off. But some days you will need to leave the party early so you can get to work or study for your exams (I’m currently writing a research paper this weeks so I totally feel your pain). As you get older and perhaps bring a significant other into the picture and maybe start a family, priorities will be everything. It doesn’t mean giving up your social life completely, it just means you work it around your responsibilities. You’re going to feel a lot better in the morning when you have to be at work at 8am if you left your friend’s place at 10pm rather than leaving at 4am. And trust me your body will thank you. There’s an amazing book by Greg McKeown titled, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s an amazing read and if you hate reading like me, there’s another option.
Which leads me to my next point…
I personally am not one for reading books. I’ve struggled with this since I was a kid. I HATED reading. I would start a paragraph and an hour later would find that I had reread the same page about 4 times. If you can relate with me on this one this tip will really help. For my current college studies, I have opted for the online version of my texts. Not only am I able to take my studies anywhere, I can hit the “play” button on my phone and listen to the text while I read the screen. It helps me stay on task of what I’m reading. Audible has been a game changer for me too. I can take my “books” anywhere. It’s also great for making household chores less boring. Expanding my education while having a clutter free house, complete win!
Learn from a mentor
This one has helped me probably the most. No matter where you are in life, you will always find that there is someone two steps ahead of you. This person may be a friend that you look up to and inspires you to grow or someone in leadership like a coach or spiritual leader. Don’t let age fool you either. Not everyone that is old is wise and not everyone that is wise is old. Look at their track record and where they have grown in their own lives. So if you are looking for financial advice, it’s probably not a good idea to look up to someone who is constantly in debt. No, they’re not perfect, they’re people too. But the wisdom that they share with you can make all the difference in the world. I have a dear friend who I look up to for wisdom and spiritual advise that has helped me more than I could have ever asked. I worked alongside her in the last church I was at and learned so much! Even though I recently moved, I know I can still call her for wisdom and when she says she will pray for you, she means it.
Don’t expect, be grateful instead
It’s so easy in our first world to assume and expect the blessings we are able to enjoy. Food, Money, Clothes, Jobs, Education, etc. Sometimes we forget that we weren’t brought into this world with an iPhone strapped to our wrist and a means to pay for things we want. I mean this to be as nice as possible, but…. No one owes us anything. We aren’t owed a job, a house, money, or a car. The only time we are owed for something is if we have worked for it. In fact if your employer didn’t pay you for the hours you clocked in, they could be sued for even more money. While I myself am a social media “junkie” its easy to look at an Instagram feed and assume that that’s the way life should be. Nothing is more rewarding than putting in honest hard work and being rewarded for your efforts.
Take care of your community
Regardless of all of the negative things you have heard about our generation, I believe that we are hungry for true change. We’ve seen violence, we’ve seen hatred, but the majority of us are not ok with that. We know something has to be different, and it starts with being the difference, Now. Not with “us and them” but “you and me”, together. You or I can’t do it alone.
Say hi to people, wave at your neighbors, hold the door open for the person behind you, help an elderly person carry their groceries if you see them struggle. Of course, use your best judgment to keep yourself safe. I don’t recommend following someone to their car in a dark parking lot with no one around. But being kind doesn’t have to cost us anything. You can also volunteer at a hospital or a charity outreach. Your few moments of your day could make a world of difference in someone’s life.
When I lived in Atlanta last year, I was part of a group called Out of Darkness/Metro Kids. I served there every other Saturday and the time I spent there completely changed my life. The volunteers were to go into the communities in Section 8 housing and serve the community. It was a lot of fun being able to have cook outs with the neighbors and help the kids with their homework.
I’ll never forget the day I met an old man at one particular house. He was sitting on his front steps and my partner and I began to talk to him. He started telling us about the “old days” and that he used to be a boxer. Along our conversation, tears began to fill his eyes. He started to tell me that he didn’t know if he was making a difference in anyone’s life and that he was trying the best he could to be there for the kids in the neighborhood. There were probably about 3 elementary age boys he would talk to and would help them “train”. The kids recognized him as a coach/grandfather figure. He also shared with us about how good God had been to him. After our conversation I smiled and told him that the stories he shard had been a blessing to me. I saw him later that afternoon talking with the neighborhood kids. And sure enough, there he was teaching them how to run. His presence around the kids was making a positive impact on their lives, and he wasn’t officially “volunteering”. He was just serving his community. And was he ever a blessing to me! The truth is, you don’t have to have an abundant amount of time or money to make a difference, you just have to be willing to be the difference.
Stay humble always.
This last thing is something that has helped me to remember where I came from and to help those who are asking if it gets better. Life in my early twenties was really rough. I had to drop out of college due to finances and went to work at a restaurant where I was making $680 a month (including tips) while receiving absolutely no support from family. From my paycheck I paid my rent, bills, and food. Some days I didn’t have enough money to put food in my fridge. I would plan my groceries around days that I could get a free meal at work before my shift. I didn’t apply for government aid because I didn’t know I qualified. It was a tough place in life.
Life is not easy and definitely not easy when your first starting out on your own. But it gets better. Even though it has been a few years, I don’t ever want to forget the “hustle and humble” that that place taught me. You may already practice some form of charitable giving if you are religious or non religious. If you know the “church
lingo” you may refer to it as tithes and offering. If you haven’t established a habit of giving, I would highly encourage you to start now. Even if you don’t have much. You may even say you’ll start giving when you “can afford it”. But generosity is not about a dollar amount it’s about giving from your heart.
We tend to think that it’s only the rich who can be greedy. But truthfully I have met some greedy people who weren’t lathered in wealth. The money only magnifies what is in someone’s heart to begin with.
One of Seth’s former bosses is a millionaire. But you would never know it. He owns several businesses and is a financial genius. But he didn’t come from money, he worked from the ground up to get where he is now. Along the way he gave to those in need and now that he is able to do more for other, he has chosen to give to help others. He has housed a few homeless youth and provided jobs for them throughout the years while successfully growing his business. Had he been greedy when he had no money, I can guarantee you that he would be even more greedy today. It’s about the small choices we make in the beginning. And even if you are only able to donate $5 a month to St. Jude, you ARE making a difference.
Thanks for reading this weeks “thinks”! I hope it has inspired you in some way. I’m going to link a few amazing charity organizations at the bottom of this post if you would be interested in volunteering or giving to a cause. Thanks again! See you next week!
Amazing Charity and Cause Organizations