Look, I’m going to get real with you for a second. I’ve been out here on my own doing this whole adulting thing for a while. I’m not going to tell you how long. Let’s just say I’m old enough to be a mom, but not your mom. So we’re safely in that in-between “fun aunt” zone.
As your honorary fun aunt, I’m bringing you a “what I wish I knew about living on my own” crash course in adulthood that you can thank me for later. I like gift cards. Coffee is nice.
Sure, you probably still have your parents’ address on your driver’s license, but most days your head hits the pillow at your own place, be it a dorm room or a studio apartment. Regardless of where you’re currently putting down roots, three things hold true whether you have one roommate or four.
- Clean up After Yourself
No one is going to follow you around and hound you about leaving socks everywhere, but trust – if you’re a slob, your roommates will talk about you behind your back. So get ahead of it and be a good roommate … laundry isn’t all that hard.
(Here’s a handy downloadable guide with all the instructions, but the quick version is that you toss a no-measuring-necessary Tide PODS Plus Downy pac into the wash with your clothes on cold and bam, an hour later you have clean, wet clothes. The dryer does the rest.)
- And Do the Dishes, Too
Funny thing about living on your own or with roommates: Your dirty dishes won’t magically appear clean in the cabinet if you don’t wash them. And if you leave them in the sink long enough, you might find yourself with more roommates than the ones who help with the rent. Gross.
Washing the dishes can seem daunting if you don’t have a dishwasher and you’re not used to doing them by hand, but Dawn does a great job of busting through greasy or forgotten-on food.
- Keep It Presentable
No, it doesn’t have to be spotless, but your place can look halfway decent on any given day if you take 10 minutes to tidy up. The best part? When impromptu visitors stop by – surprise! It’s parents weekend! – the mad dash to clean up won’t be quite so mad.
Follow the restaurant rule and do “two hands in, two hands out” as you buzz through the house: Carry out-of-place items from the room they’re in to the room where they belong, and then find something out of place in that room to take to the next. Two hands full, whole house clean.
College life is all about new challenges, new adventures and new things you have to buy for yourself at the grocery store. Here are the absolute essentials:
- A Good Shampoo and Conditioner Combo
Maybe you were stuck using whatever your parents bought at home. Maybe you’re already obsessed with a combo that makes your hair feel like a unicorn’s tail. Either way, make a habit to buy more before you run out, because real talk: Realizing you’re out of shampoo after you’re already in the shower is never fun. Snag a coupon for Herbal Essences, Pantene or Old Spice before your next trip to the store to save a little while you’re there.
- A Daily Moisturizer
No, I’m not telling you to buy your grandma’s cold cream and slather it on every night, but a go-to daily moisturizer is key for keeping your youthful skin looking, well, youthful. This falls under the category of “things I wish I started doing when I was younger,” so you are benefiting from my mistakes. And my crow’s-feet.
Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer is a great place to start – it’s a no-nonsense moisturizer you can use every day, plus it has SPF 15 to protect your skin from the sun. And, yes, guys can use it, too.
- Toothpaste, Toothbrush and Deodorant
A Few Last Thoughts
No matter where you live, you still gotta pay your bills and eat, right? P&G everyday is full of great recipes to cover the eating part (like the ones here, here and here) but here are two last things you should learn to master if you haven’t already:
- Perfect Your Egg-Making Skills
Scrambled or over easy, eggs make for a quick and easy meal any time of day, and they’re inexpensive, too. For scrambled eggs, heat a tablespoon or so of butter or oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat, break an egg into a bowl and beat with a fork until mixed. Pour into the pan and stir, slowly but constantly, while the eggs solidify. Keep an eye for the texture you like and you’re done. For over-easy eggs, heat the oil and break the egg into a bowl, but instead of beating the egg, gently slide it into the oil. Let it cook until the whites are mostly opaque, and then flip and let cook for just a few more seconds. Carefully slide it out of the pan and voila – eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Keep Your Finances in Order
The urgency of budgeting comes in varying degrees depending on how much Mom and Dad are bankrolling your experience, but learning how to keep your finances in order is pretty much the most adult thing you can do. Search online for free finance programs that can automatically import your charges, collect them in handy categories and even show you spending patterns. Devoting a few minutes to checking your balances each week can set you up for a lifetime of stress-free finances. The most important thing is this: Ignoring a financial problem will never make it go away.
Look, living on your own isn’t rocket science – it’s trial and error while you figure things out. Your roommates will be there for you when you need them, and if they’re good roommates, they’ll call you out when you’re doing something very un-roommate-y. So listen to them, make friends and have fun.
Oh no. I’m starting to sound like a mom. I think it’s time we cut this short. If you’re looking for more advice, drift around the site a bit – you’ll find plenty of helpful stuff.