Things A 23-Year-Old Wishes They'd Known Before Being Thrown Into Adult Life – Pensions, Bills etc.

At 23, I’ve not long been used to the adult jobs of life. I first got a glimpse four years ago when I started uni where I got thrown into independent living – well, as independent as you can be in a student flat fighting over whose milk is whose and why the sink is still full of dishes.

But for the first time in my life I’m paying bills, paying into a pension plan and working out how to change the batteries in a wired smoke detector so thought I’d share my experience so far with graduate life and my best tips on how to adult – things I wish I’d known previously.

1. Get To Love Direct Debits

Bills don’t usually go out at the same time and you have to organise preferred payments. It’s easy to feel as though you’re forgetting to have paid one or another but direct debits usually are probably the easiest way of keeping on top of them.

2. The Joy (Sort Of) Of Budgeting

Budgeting definitely helps to work out which bills need paying before or after payday and what you’ve got left for groceries, travel and other essential costs as will as little luxuries.

3. WiFi Installation: Everyone Lies

It doesn’t matter how early you organise your WiFi for a new home, it will still take forever to be setup! You ask anyone and they will have had a period of no internet after moving somewhere. Don’t cause yourself extra stress, take it on the chin, dig out your old CD player and DVD player and relax.

4. Pensions Aren't Scary

Pensions are literally just savings but your employer and the government also pay into it. For the longest time, I didn’t think I’d need to save for a pension so early when retirement is half a lifetime away and anything could happen before then. But the truth is, it’s closer than we think and you don’t really miss the money. It’s so worth it to just take advantage of the opportunity.

5. Graduate Accounts: Dig In!

They are so worth having for discounts, taste cards, available overdraft facilities (which you should totally avoid using if possible but are comforting to have in place) and more. I wish I’d looked into these sooner so I could have taken advantage of the perks. If you haven’t been a student – no worries – there are different ways of saving and managing your money than just current accounts.

6. Plug Into Voucher Power

Vouchers and coupons are worth getting into. Make the most of them. You might not think 75p here and £1.50 there makes a difference, but it does. Rewards cards are also helpful for this. We've got our favourites (hi Tesco and Boots) as points gather easily (they do for us anyway!) Work out what works for you based on what you regularly buy. It’s so worth it in the long-run.

7. Don't Get Into A Fight With The BBC

The way we watch media has changed enormously. Pre-uni, I was absolutely adamant I wasn’t getting Netflix and that I liked TV live; four years later, I only watch Netflix and never watch TV live. Because of this change, it seems less and less people are wanting to pay a TV licence, but it’s the law if you’re watching or recording live TV. If you watch TV, don’t try and try to outsmart anyone or play the stubborn card. Just pay the licence. If you only watch iPlayer every now and then make a decision to either pay the licence, or stop watching iPlayer and save yourself the money. If you don’t watch TV, just ring up, or say so online. It takes seconds and saves the world of stress from your shoulders.

8. Succumbing To The Lure of Takeaways

Sometimes, you’ve had a long day and need a takeaway - we get that! Sometimes they're disappointing and you kind of regret splashing out. Don’t forget to treat yourself from time-to-time, but make sure they’re infrequent enough that you can really enjoy them. Save yourself the money and the regret!

9. Style v Comfort

Style doesn’t matter like you think it does as a teenager. You’re in your twenties, life’s underway and comfort is EVERYTHING.

10. Smoke Detectors (Yes, Really)

I still don’t know how to change the batteries in my smoke detector, but everything can’t be easy! When all else fails, Youtube it… or ask your family and friends. They can probably help.

Happy Adulting!

Renae, Social Media Assistant at LGBT Money

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