Written by Shira Boss
Age is just a number. You know you’ve actually become an adult when you start behaving like one. How can you know for sure that you’re really, truly a grown-up, at last in the financial sense? Let us count the ways…
1. Your parents have cut you off. Your financial life probably started with a weekly allowance from your folks, and that practice might continue until after graduate school. But at some point, you get taken off the family payroll. (Whether it’s your idea or not is another matter.) As one famous author said, “You’ve got brains in your head, you’ve got feet in your shoes.” This officially means you’re on your own.
2. You’ve got payday! And boy, does payday feel good. A budget can’t be far off…or some unwanted debt will be.
3. You write your first huge check. The big payment will probably for your first car. Writing out a four or five-digit check is scary stuff. But since you saved up, researched the purchase and closed the deal, you feel like an accomplished, money-savvy adult.
4. You save for retirement. College kids can’t think past spring break, but the truly grown-up plan to stop working as soon as they start, earning them the status of not only smart but wise.
5. You pick up the bill for the table. Nothing is more satisfying than saying “I’ve got this,” and sliding the check to your side of the table.
6. You pay off your credit cards—every month. If you use credit cards for your wants (or needs, for that matter), you are diligent about paying off the balance when it’s due.
7. You’re a homeowner. The bigger the down payment you have, the more proud you should be.
8. You paid off your student loans. Enough said.
9. What’s mine is yours. You enter into the most important partnership of your life—marriage.
10. You’ve got the next generation to take care of. Life is all fun and games until a child is blinking back at you, and you have to fulfill their every need…for at least 18 years. Good luck, Mom or Dad! (That means you. Not your parents. Common mistake.)
TELL US: What’s the one money moment that made you grow up? What financial responsibilities made you truly feel like an adult? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
About this series: As part of our Smart Spending reporting, Patch is profiling people across the country who have found creative ways to save money. If you're a smart spender, we want to hear from you! Share your story here or in the comments section below.