Twenty-five. Just five more years until 30. Not a girl, not quite a woman–it’s a time for a quarterlife crisis. You’re technically an adult, so it’s imperative that you know how to care for yourself. Here are 25 things you should know how to do by now.
1. How to do your own laundry.
Without Mom here to sort, wash, fold, and fluff your delicates, you should definitely know how to do your own laundry by now.
2. How to make (and stick to) a budget.
Managing money is important. With student loan debt, bills, and a (hopefully) steady income now, at 25, you should know how much money you’ll need to shell out every month and when your bills are due. Unless you already have overdraft fees figured into your monthly expenses, do some simple math, buy a calendar, and keep track of where your money is going.
3. How to cook.
By now, you should know how to cook something that doesn’t have directions on the side of its packaging. Kraft macaroni and cheese may be easy, but it has about as much nutritional value as a piece of cardboard. Buy a cookbook, Google a recipe, or call your mom and have her walk you through cooking something. The hardest part of cooking for yourself is getting comfortable in the kitchen, and that only comes with practice. Cooking also has magical properties over the opposite sex. Men, women will melt. Women, the way to a man’s heart–or wallet, or bed, whatever you’re after–is through his stomach.
4. How to interact with members of the opposite sex.
Women and men in their twenties have a lot of bad habits left over from college. Sometimes it’s getting wasted every time they want to approach a member of the opposite sex. Some make inappropriate jokes and comments, and others just turn everything into an awkward, uncomfortable situation. Now is the time to learn how to not be an awkward turtle every time you’re within 10 feet of your preferred gender. Tip: Gentle flattery and friendly conversation always work.
5. How to dress appropriately.
A sweatshirt and jeans should no longer be your go-to outfit for every occasion. For a Saturday shopping trip, an afternoon at the park, or while you watch a game? Sure. But by now, you should have a few more items added to your wardrobe, and you should know what to wear in any situation. You should have at least one go-to wedding outfit, interview outfit, bar outfit, date outfit, and so on. These outfits don’t have to be trendy–they just have to be appropriate and comfortable for you.
6. How to make a decent cocktail.
You’re past the legal age to drink and you should no longer be drinking shitty beer or cheap, bad liquor. Find a quality spirit you like, buy some decent glassware, and learn to make a good cocktail. Bonus points for teaching yourself how to make a few of the classics, too.
7. How to navigate “the morning after.”
Sneaking out the window once your partner for the night falls asleep is childish. You’re an adult, and the grownup thing to do is to gracefully make your exit. If you don’t want to stay the night, that’s perfectly fine. But sneaking out is not the way to go, even if you don’t see a future hookup happening. If you do choose to spend the night, be cautious of overstaying your welcome. Use some basic manners, thank the person for a good time the night before, and hit the bricks.
8. How to balance a checkbook.
Let me say it again: money is important. Keeping track of your money is even more important. Most banks have free online banking and it’s super convenient, but it’s not always right. All it takes is a little time, a little organization, and a little math. Make your cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, sit down, and record all of your purchase–yes, even the ones you make with your debit card. Keeping track of things yourself gives you a little more control and makes you a little more accountable.
9. How to properly write a check.
You can’t pay every bill with a credit card every time. Even some of those that can be paid by card charge you a convenience fee every month. Save yourself a little money, see if your bank offers free checks, buy a book of stamps, and learn how to write a check. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
10. How to file your taxes.
If you want to pay someone to file your taxes or if your mom or dad is kind enough to do all the dirty work for you, great. By now, you should at least know what paperwork is needed. This makes it easier on the kind person who files your taxes. Note: these papers definitely should not be covered in grease stains and beer. Gather your W-2s, loan interest reports, bank statements, pertinent receipts, and so on, buy a folder, and put them somewhere safe.
11. How to follow directions.
Sounds like kind of a “duh,” right? Well, you’d be surprised at the number of people who are too busy thinking two steps ahead to follow a simple set of directions. Whether you’re cooking, driving, working on a project at work, or putting together a piece of furniture, slow down and pay attention to the damn directions!
12. How to find a good deal.
I’m not saying you need to give “Extreme Couponing” a try, but things are unnecessarily expensive when you start footing the bill. Buy the store-brand items that don’t matter, get store coupons and discounts on your phone (Target’s a good place for this, as it has not one but two apps) and clip a few coupons. There’s no shame in trying to save a few bucks!
13. How to at least fake having an intelligent conversation.
You have a college education, so it’s not unrealistic for people to think you actually know something. If you’re talking with someone who’s hung up on a topic you know less than nothing about, you can still sound like you know what’s going on by agreeing, nodding, or rewording something he or she already said.
14. How to manage your time.
You’re an adult. Unless there’s some crisis (no, Starbucks screwing up your order is not a crisis) there is no reason you should be late. Learn to live on a schedule and routine. Yes, it sounds boring, but routines aren’t all bad. You routinely go to the bar, don’t you?
15. How to leave an appropriate tip.
Quick tip test: Did this person perform some sort of service for you? If the answer is yes, then you need to tip him or her. The standard rate is 15 percent for basic service. Wait staff, bartenders, hairdressers, valets–they all should be tipped. The better the service, the better the tip should be. If you can’t figure out what 15 or more percent of your bill is, don’t guess. Use the calculator on your iPhone for God’s sake.
16. How to properly maintain your car.
If you’re adult enough to purchase your own vehicle, you should know how to properly maintain it. You don’t have to know how to do every repair yourself, but you should at least know how to change a flat tire, check the air pressure, check your oil, and keep up with scheduled maintenance.
17. How to sew.
Buttons fall off and belt loops tear. Everyone should have an emergency sewing kit and at least know how to put a button back on. Pull out your needle and thread and YouTube how to sew that button back on properly.
18. How to grocery shop.
Sure, anyone can walk into a store and pick up a bunch of random stuff, but being an adult and grocery shopping is different. It hardly counts as grocery shopping if you’re going four times a week and picking up a bunch of junk. Make a list and check it twice.
19. How to throw a real party.
Keggers aren’t really fun for anyone after they can legally drink. By now, you should know how to throw a decent party with finger foods, wine, a nice selection of liquor, a little music, pleasant conversation, and maybe even a good game of Cards Against Humanity.
20. Proper etiquette.
Surely your parents taught you manners, but this is more than being polite. You should know how to act in a variety of situations, from office meetings, to social gatherings, to meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family. Different situations call for different behavior, and you should know how to act accordingly.
21. How to take care of another living thing.
I’m not advocating going out and having a baby right now, but try a plant or a fish. Something easy that needs at least a little attention. If you already have a garden or aquarium full of friends, adopt a cat. Puppies need a lot of attention.
22. How to keep informed of current affairs.
In the digital age where Twitter exists and news outlets work around the clock, there’s no excuse for not knowing what’s going on in the world. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should at least have an idea.
23. How to network.
Networking is one of those essential evils. If you hope to have a job in your field with little to no experience, you need to be good at talking yourself up–i.e. networking.
24. How to clean.
Martha Stewart you need not be, but your home shouldn’t look like a pig pen all the time. You should know the basics, such as how to clean your bathroom and how to take care of your kitchen. Vacuuming, dusting, washing, and the like are all important, too. Worst case, you should at least know the most effective way to shove everything in your closets and under your bed.
25. How to say no.
No. Nein. Niet. Ni. Nai. “No” is a beautiful word, and by now, you should be comfortable just declining to do things that aren’t of any real benefit to you. Quit doing things you don’t want to, and quit hanging around with people you don’t like. There was only one thing I took away from the D.A.R.E. program from middle school–just say no!