If you’re about to leave home or dorm-life to enter the real world, you may not realize just how comfortable you’ve had it all these years. You’ll soon find out that adult life comes with many responsibilities.
If you want to be self-sufficient in the real world, here are eight life skills you should have nailed down:
You don’t need to become the next Food Network star before leaving home, but you should at least have some basic cooking skills under your belt. Eating out every night will get old fast.
It’s also expensive: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American households spent an average of $67 per week eating out in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.1
Think of a handful of recipes to master before going out on your own. Pinterest is an excellent source of easy-to-make meals, and YouTube is a great place to find tutorials on just about anything you’ll need to do in the kitchen.
2. Grocery Shopping
Before you can cook, you need to learn how to grocery shop. You may think there is not much to it, but if you haven’t shouldered this responsibility before, you’ll learn that it’s more involved than it seems.
Start by planning your meals for the week. Then, make a list of ingredients and look for coupons and deals on the items you need. You’ll also want to know the best prices for the items you will typically buy since supermarket prices fluctuate. You’ll also need to know how to pick the best produce and which cuts of meat to buy.
3. Doing Your Laundry
If your parents have been doing your laundry, make sure you have this all-important skill locked down before leaving home. Learn how to sort your clothes, which temperature to use, and know when something should be hand-washed or dry-cleaned. You should also learn how to treat stains and iron your clothes.
4. Cleaning and Basic Home Maintenance
When you have your first place, cleaning will be your responsibility. Set yourself a schedule to make sure you clean routinely.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re capable of basic home maintenance. Your landlord will be responsible for any significant repairs, but you should know how to perform basic tasks like changing light bulbs, fixing a running toilet, or what to do in the event you lose power.
5. Routine Car Maintenance
You should know how to pop the hood, change a tire, jumpstart a car, and change the oil (or at least know when it’s time to have it changed). Also, be sure to take your car in for regularly scheduled service.
Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual for your car. Most automakers will recommend an oil change every 12 months.2
6. Budgeting and Paying Your Bills
Devise a system for paying your bills. Automation can help you pay your bills on time, but you’ll still need to know when and how much is due, as well as how to balance your checkbook or you’ll risk incurring costly overdraft or insufficient funds fees.
Banks typically charge as much as $34 per overdraft, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A CFPB study found that frequent overdrafters pay around $450 more in fees.3
7. Time Management
You’ll be juggling multiple responsibilities now, so make sure you know how to manage your time wisely. Sitting down on a daily or weekly basis to write a to-do list will help you be efficient with your time. Keep track of your schedule and appointments with either a physical or electronic calendar.
A good approach to managing your time is to assign specific tasks to specific days. For example, you could designate Saturday as your cleaning and laundry day and Sunday as a grocery shopping day.
8. Managing Your Healthcare
Once you’re on your own, your parents will no longer be responsible for maintaining your health—even if you’re still on their insurance. You’ll need to stay on top of your routine dental and medical care by scheduling appointments yourself and making sure you keep them.
Whether you’ll be living by yourself or with roommates, make it a point to sharpen these life skills before leaving the comfort of your home or the dorm. You’ll be setting yourself up for a smooth entrance into the real world.