Just Some Stuff You Need to Know
Category Archives: The Art of Growing Up
Fortunately for you, opening a bank account has gotten a heck of a lot easier over the years, and as an added bonus the days of balancing your checkbook are all but gone. The process is not hard and can be broken down into steps.
Step 1. Choose which bank you want to work with. If you have not already done this – shop around! Figure out what kind of account you will need – savings or checking. You have so many choices now, and not all are the traditional walk-in style of bank. Credit Unions have a lot to offer, so if you can get a membership to one consider doing so. Online banks can provide great rates and customer service, just be sure to do some research so you know who you are working with. Traditional banks offer competitive rates and many features but also vary widely in their fees. Find out if each bank offers online and mobile banking, and what if any fees are associated with the account. Bring along some money.
Step 2. Pick the product you want (checking, savings) and visit the website or branch office. They will usually offer a variety of services and account types but they are all variations of checking, savings, or loan accounts. Ask again about any fees. Decide if you will need overdraft protection and how you will fund that. In a branch office a teller or banker would help you fill out the application, online you will fill it out yourself. Be prepared to provide proof of ID and (if in the US) your social security number also.
Step 3. Agree to the terms, tell them how much you want to deposit, then sign the forms and create your account! Some online banks will ask you to mail them your initial deposit or identification, that will vary by bank. You may choose to pick out checks if you decide to order a box of them. At a branch office they will give you a starter set of fill-in checks to use until your order arrives by mail. Your ATM card will be ready to use right away and can be used anywhere a credit card is accepted as well as at cash machines. Just be sure to keep an eye on your balance! Generally you can log into your account online immediately, and will be able to see any charges against your account almost as soon as they are made.
Rental leases are negotiable only before you sign them but you should always try to get the best deal that you can. Ask for a free month (or two!) when negotiating the lease, the landlord may meet you halfway, you will never know unless you ask. Also ask about roommates, pets, and any additional costs that might arise. It’s not necessary to pay a broker or an agency just for the privilege of looking through their files. The same listings are always available somewhere else for no charge. You can check an agency’s reputation by going to the Better Business Bureau’s website. The Board of Realtors (any state that sells property has one) will have records of any complaints filed against realtors and property managers. You can usually check online and it just takes a few minutes. Personal reviews can also be relevant here but are often left by irate former tenants who perhaps are only presenting one side of the situation, so take those with the proverbial grain of salt.
When you visit a potential rental dress appropriately. Make sure you are looking at the actual rental unit, not some ‘model’ unit that is for display only. Be very clear on what the move-in costs are and what your monthly costs will be. Will you have to pay for water, sewer, and trash removal? There is usually a security deposit required along with the first month’s rent, this is often referred to as ‘first and last’ or the first month’s rent plus another as the deposit. Some landlords will require a damage deposit as well, though that is not as common. If you have pets expect to pay a deposit per pet, if they accept pets at all. Several utility companies will ask for a security deposit as well, especially if it is your first time having an account with them. It’s not all bad, and you get a lot of this back – especially if you pay your bills, but it is better to know about all of these costs up front than to be surprised with them when first renting.
If you are subletting or renting a room from someone you know be aware that these costs all still exist, even if you are not required to sign for them so be reasonable about the rent you are willing to pay and understand why it needs to be paid on time.
Having your own place to live is an important part of becoming independent and will give you a sense of accomplishment and maturity. Looking for a place to live can be stressful and expensive though as you search through the endless rental ads and go to numerous appointments with landlords or rental agencies to view housing. Even if you share the rent with a roommate one (or both) of you will have to negotiate the lease and sign the rental contract. The process can be a bit intimidating for the first time renter but by knowing the steps and creating a plan you’ll be able to navigate the whole thing easily.
Knowing what you can afford and what kind of place you want to live in will help you to reduce the amount of time, stress, and expenses you will have to deal with when moving. The real price of renting is found when you add up your own costs per month, plus your rent, and hopefully the cost of the rental insurance you are about to purchase as well. These three things are what it’s truly going to cost you per month to live somewhere. Your costs include travel to and from work and school, food, clothes, and whatever entertainment you can squeeze in. Most experts recommend that you do not spend more than 25-35% of your monthly take-home pay on rent. So figure out your income and that gives you a rough idea of what you can afford to pay for rent. Add to that figure 3-4% or another few hundred for utilities like water, power, cable, internet, phone and whatever else that your basic rent does not cover. Rental insurance is a few hundred per year (this can be paid yearly or monthly) and is well worth the cost. Some apartments will include a few of the utilities in the price of the rent so that may be one thing you look for. Other things may include proximity to public transportation, school, and shopping as well as security, parking, and amenities such as modern appliances or laundry facilities. Another list might come in handy here, what you want vs. what you can reasonably afford.
4. Learning to make your own decisions is a skill that you can easily get better at. Keep in mind that in order to agree or say yes to some things, you must learn to disagree (politely), and say no to other things. It’s not about being contrary or confrontational, it’s just learning your own mind along with how to stick to what you feel is right and what is best for you in a given situation. Give yourself permission to change your mind though. Changing your mind is often the first step towards learning something new.
If you allow others to make your decisions you are basically giving them control over your life. You might have overly protective family or friends or be easily influenced by what you see in the media. The easiest way to remedy this is just to recognize it and start choosing for yourself.
Life actually gets a lot easier when you make your own decisions. It’s also a lot less stressful. It’s easy to let life just happen to you and hope that decisions and issues will just resolve themselves but they usually do not. In fact things generally get worse the longer you wait to deal with them. When you face a choice or a problem, decide on a plan to resolve it and execute that plan right away.
Your decision may range from the trivial to the vital and they can affect your day or your future. If you are uncertain how to make good decisions try using the following steps:
1. List all of your options – write them down somewhere. Don’t be judgmental at this point, write down even the options that seem ridiculous.
2. Think about each option – ask yourself how you feel about and what the consequences are for each and consider if it will affect anyone else.
3. List out your priorities and compare them to your options. If you have important or clear priorities it can quickly reduce the amount of options you are looking at.
4. Decide on your choice. Many times your choice will already be in your head at this point, it sneaks up on you before you’ve even really made your decision. You should feel good about the decision and yourself.
5. Commit to the decision and start devising a plan or a goal to make it happen.
Making your own decisions strengthens your personal identity and your confidence in your ability to assess and deal with various situations.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt
3. Many, many people don’t know where they are headed when they leave home, even if they have a job, an apartment with a friend, or a school picked out. That’s actually ok, and obviously pretty normal. But you will have some idea in your head of what makes you happy, what you’d like to learn more about and what kind of work you are willing to do to make some money. Think about those things, write them down, and look at them. Choose a direction to go in, whether it’s school, military, or work that somehow aims you on the path towards getting what you want. Some great advice to keep in mind is this – if you have a destination in mind, you can head that direction. If you change your mind, you can recalibrate your course for a different direction. But if you don’t know where you’re headed, then you wander around and don’t get anywhere. So pick a destination or some sort of goal, even a simple one, and move towards it.
Use a day planner if needed, but plan out your days including days off. Make sure that the tasks that you are responsible for actually get done. If you are working with goals that you have set for yourself you don’t really need anyone else’s approval and you function more autonomously when you don’t seek it. An interesting side effect of attaining this self-reliant mindset is the alluring scent of confidence without arrogance that adds style to and compliments any wardrobe.
If you are not a natural-born planner try to break down all of your long-term goals into steps. Its much less intimidating to approach something if you do it in steps plus you won’t miss important pieces along the way. This method not only offers moments of satisfaction in the process of working towards that long-term goal, but it also gives you flexibility and room for incremental successes and setbacks. Breaking your goals down to manageable steps allows for multiple points where you can change your mind if circumstances have changed. It also helps put you back on track if you are interrupted and lose focus in the middle, just go to the next step in the process and pick up where you left off.
2. Becoming informed does not mean you need to know everything or watch every news cast but you do need to be aware of the world around you and know how to carry out your responsibilities. How can you make effective decisions with no information? For ordinary every situations most information is a mere internet search away. Need a recipe or want to figure out how to apply for financial aid? Use your favorite search engine. If you don’t already have a computer there is usually a library nearby. They are friendly places and open to everyone. Don’t wear out your friends and family, try to resolve your simpler questions and issues by yourself.
When important issues arise though don’t be shy about contacting your parents, family members, or friends. There are some problems and decisions you just shouldn’t make by yourself and the advice of others can really make a difference. There are things that experience and practical wisdom bring to some situations that are invaluable. Don’t expect someone else to handle it for you though, as experience can be the best teacher. Try to figure out as much as possible for yourself and then go talk to someone you trust. With this method you can go and talk to your parents or whoever you choose and participate in the conversation as a younger person asking an older person for advice and instead of as a youth asking for help or instruction.
The self-reliant person is always interested in new experiences and opportunities to learn….
1. Assume Responsibility
Part of growing up is taking the responsibility of caring for yourself and making your own informed decisions. You should not want to or have to be told to care for yourself, eat properly, clean up after yourself or show up for work (or class) on time. If you want to be independent and (especially if you want to be successful) you must choose to be responsible. That doesn’t actually mean you will never have fun again though, and responsibility truly does bring its own rewards.
Get to know your alarm clock and get yourself up in the mornings, even on days when you don’t have obligations. If you have a phone or computer they both have alarms and calendars. You don’t need someone to tell you when you have appointments, when class starts, or when bills are due. Desk calendars work very well still and are fairly inexpensive. Understand that you will be paying the dentist and doctor from now on, so do take care of your own self first. Look after yourself, your teeth, and your living space. If they start to smell, clean them promptly. Eat like your mother taught you to, it’s actually far less expensive than relying on fast food and your insides will thank you as you get older. Don’t just tell yourself to do things, go ahead and get up and do them. Usually these things don’t even take up much time and you will spot yourself providing excuses for not doing them – try to catch that and remember that there will still be time for games and playing around, there always is.
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand – Randy Pausch
You may not be fully self-sufficient when you move out on your own but you can easily become self-reliant. Becoming self-reliant is an important part of the foundation that you lay for yourself to build upon. Many people don’t realize until they are on their own how much their parents actually did for them. From grocery shopping to maintaining the vehicles, your parents probably made your life easier in many ways.
A person with a self-reliant state of mind does not wait around for someone else to take care of things that need to be taken care of. If you encounter a problem take the initiative and try to figure out how to resolve it yourself. Remember though, in most cases you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, a rational thought process and some common sense will be your greatest friends.
4 Steps to Self-Reliance
- Assume Responsibility
- Become Informed
- Pick a destination, know where you are going
- Decide for yourself, don’t be led by others