Life Skills to Know Before You Move Out
by Lindsey Turnbull
I know. Graduation is on the horizon. You’re so excited and ready for the next stage in your life. New living situation, one where you call the shots. New classes. New challenges. New adventures. New friends. FREEDOM! It’s exhilarating.
Annnnd maybe deep down you’re a little bit nervous. Freedom means responsibilities. Bills. Taxes. Showing up on time. It means making decisions about who you want to be.
It’s completely, 100%, OK and normal to be nervous. This is a huge life change and I promise you, every single soon-to-be grad is sweating it a little bit too. Who is ever really ready for major life changes? It is *always* going to be a transition and an adjustment, but it doesn’t have to be *hard.*
It’s hard to focus on studying when you’re sweating your next paycheck. It’s so easy to spiral into a panic over tax forms- the IRS is intimidating! Knowing some basic, adult hard and soft skills allows you to focus on the big stuff without getting bogged down in the small stuff. Having a strong base of skills will help you move through the transition from high school to college, a job, a gap year, or whatever comes next, much easier.
Here are skills to practice before moving out so you’re ready for your next steps in life:
OK. I do not want you to be Mickey, slicing your last loaf of bread, bought with your last dollars wafer-thin, because you ran out of money for the month. Just look at how sad Donald and Goofy are. That bread-paper-slice is pathetic.
Here’s the deal: money doesn’t have to be scary. Whether you’ve got loans or scholarships or a job or family support, the first thing to do is to sit down and make a realistic budget. Separate your wants from your needs. You need textbooks and notebooks and healthy food. And, I’m sorry, you want three trips to Starbucks a day.
If you’re getting one big deposit from a scholarship, you have to make that money last, tempting as it is to buy brand new everything for your dorm. Even if you are fortunate enough to have family help, they don’t want you burning through money either. It is always better to *know* how to budget and save before you get into a giant hole.
Find out exactly how much money you have coming in, after taxes, and figure out where your money goes each month. Prioritize your needs and sprinkle in some wants. Don’t forget to put some money aside for emergencies.
File Your Taxes
My dad loved to say “only two things are certain: death and taxes.” And yes, taxes are certain, friends. Scary things can happen to people who don’t file, ranging from scary letters to stiff fines and penalties. And all that IRS stuff just looks SO scary, like it wants you to make a mistake. It’s easier to put it off, right? Are they REALLY going to care?
OK, yes. As a college student or a new employee, your taxes are relatively easy. The forms are scary, but it’s nothing you can’t do. Print out a 1040EZ form, just to see it, grab your W2 (if you have it, or find a sample one online) and see if you can fill it out.
Just being familiar with the forms can make tax time a little less scary. Ask your family for help and see if your school or local library offers free or low-cost tax prep help.
Your favorite shirt lost a button. You know fast fashion is damaging to people and the planet. You’re on a budget, so you can’t just grab a new shirt anyway.
Grab that needle and thread, girl. Sewing may seem like something only your grandma does. It’s useful, too. Being able to do basic stitches and sew buttons back on may seem small, but it can extend the life of your clothes, keeping them out of landfills, and saving you money. You don’t really need a whole new shirt, just a new button.
YouTube is a great place to learn how to sew- and many young women I have taught found it to be even…enjoyable. With the help of YouTube or your granny, learn to thread a needle, tie a knot, do a basic straight stitch, a back stitch, and of course, sew a button.
In a land before every home had internet, before instant connection, I grew up with penpals. We wrote, by hand, and sent things in the mail. It’s a hobby I carry on today, because I love everything about the process- the connection, the act of sitting to write, the tangible piece of mail, the excitement of getting something besides junk or bills. I assumed that everyone felt that way.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that many people don’t know how to send mail. That’s OK. We don’t do it that often. But there will be a point in your life when you need to send something- a deposit check, a portfolio, a love letter, a mail-in ballot. And for that moment, I want you to be ready.
Send a piece of mail to a friend, or heck, send a letter to your representative. Their address goes right in the middle. Yours, the return address, goes on the upper left. The stamp goes on the upper right corner. Drop it in the box and wait for your response!
Budgeting, tax prep, basic sewing, and mail are great skills to know that will help you keep a cool head during difficult times. You can find times in your daily life to practice and improve all of these skills!
Are you looking for a welcoming, encouraging space to practice? I am so excited to offer the Life Skills Crash Course, where we will practice all of these skills, and more, to help you feel more confident and ready to move out into the world!
At the event, you’ll practice all of these skills and more so that you can feel ready to Adult in the Real World. You’ll leave with more confidence, feeling prepared and ready to take on the next stage in your life.