25 Things to Know Before Turning 25
1. How to set up your own health insurance. Maybe this is number one since open enrollment for my company started Friday, but this is something that I did for the first time when I got married and I'm sure many of my friends are in a similar situation. Not only have I gotten burned by not realizing a flexible spending account is use it or lose it, AND learned the hard way the difference between asking if a doctors takes your insurance versus being in-network, I've seen not understanding the basics can cost you thousands. Before I was married I was on my parent's health insurance, and my knowledge was that I had to carry a card to the doctors- this was a reality check for me that hopefully you can learn from this warning.
2. How to do laundry. Hopefully this task can be checked off from college- but one of my friends regularly would forget to add detergent to their laundry, and would question why their "clean" clothes smelled like heated up sweat. PS Tide Pods are still my go-to in fact to avoid this- I think all young 20 year olds can agree that all laundry we do is set to the Cold cycle, but there are actually reasons for the other cycle options you can now explore.
3. How to keep in touch. Most of my friends and family members have moved at least once, and many of the one's I'm closest to are far away. You've probably discovered the hard way, about how easy it is to lose touch with people that used to be so important to you. It's as easy as setting an alarm in your phone every Saturday to text an old friend or a family member just to see how they're doing.
4. How to save your money. Saving Accounts will maybe get you .01% return on your money. That means for every $100 you save, you'll get a penny. But let's say you did the same thing invested in the stock market, assuming a pretty conservative 5% increase, you'll notice a $50 difference over 5 years. This may not seem a lot, but the limit for an IRA each year is around $5500, so multiply that $100 initial investment by 55 instead, you'll get nearly $3,000 more. If you keep this money in for longer than 5 years, the power of compounding interest will be even more evident.
Below is from Andy Kiersz at Business Insider showing the difference of saving at 25 vs. 35. I'm the Blue Line, Emily, and my friend Dave doesn't start saving until he's more established at 35. We both contribute $200 a month, and assuming a 6% rate of return. Once we both retire, I would have contributed $96,000 over 40 years, and David would have contributed $72,000 over 30 years.
So even though I only started 10 years earlier, I will have almost twice as much as Dave in retirement.
This same graph shows how much you need to save each month to reach $1 million dollars at age 65. Not so hard to be a millionaire if we start now....
5. How to house hunt. Whether you want to buy right now or not, it's good to be informed. Many places in the country, it's not economically a good idea to buy a house ever for various reasons, and it's good to learn about the real estate in your area. Even if you're not ready for a house in the foreseeable future and have decided to rent, there are many good questions you should know to ask- including parking restrictions, pet rules, what utilities are included, etc...
6. How to master one dish. As someone who has lived alone for many years and finally mastered the concept of grocery shopping and cooking for one, a great skill to have is how to cook one great meal. I recommend stuffed shells or chili- which are both relatively easy, crowd pleasers, and reheat well.
7. How to take care of your car. Although I'll admit I will never be changing my own oil, knowing how to jump-start a car and change a flat has come in handy multiple times.
8. How to find good deals shopping. My new obsession is Poshmark where I can buy new and gently used clothing, and sell things that I have no use for. I really wish I found out about this before I was married, or I wouldn't have 5 nice white dresses I will probably never wear again. (This is mostly female clothes and accessories, but there are a few male postings). I've gotten a few Nike shorts with tags on them for $10. Install the app and sign Up with code PSIJS and get $5 off your first order!
9. How to give back. From starving kids, dogs that are going to be killed in a shelter, to medical research- I find it hard to believe that there's not one cause that you can get behind.
10. How to ask for a raise. No different than you used to study for a test in school, you should research salary negotiation tips. These tips are great if you've been at the same job for a year+, or are looking to switch jobs and negotiate a new starting salary.
11. How to check your body. As a former athlete, annual physical check-ups were required so I always knew if my heart rate and blood pressure was normal. Although things like going to the Dentist and Doctor seem like a no brainier, it's hard to make time for those things. Knowing when something is right without having to go to the doctor will save you money, and worry from searching conditions on WebMD.
12. How to dress yourself properly. This isn't a problem just for toddlers- I'm still surprised how many men don't know how to correctly tie their tie, and women who don't realize the importance of wearing their actual bra size. This goes into knowing what's appropriate for a job interview, so make sure you've got a good idea of the difference between business professional vs. business casual attire.
13. How to be an awesome aunt or uncle. If you're like the majority of my friends and can not yet answer if they're responsible enough to care for another human every remaining second of their lives, then pick a niece, nephew, cousin, or neighbor and spend some time (and money for real bonus points) making a kid happy.
14. How to tell if you're happy in a relationship, or just afraid of being alone. With engagements happening basically every weekend at this age of our lives, it's easy to feel like you need to settle down. While there's nothing wrong with settling down, there is something wrong with settling, and 25 is a pretty good age to meet mature people who's goals align with yours.
15. How to break up in person. Although it seems like an obvious no-brainer, none of my break-ups have been in person. Although not always possible due to distance, most of my break-ups have simply because I was mad, left, and then broke up with them. Not only is this not really respectful, it's not the best way to have closure and sometimes leads you to opening doors that should have remained closed.
16. How to vote. Hopefully you realize that the real world is an intimidating place, and the things you used to learn about in Government class in high school are actually extremely relevant to you and your loved ones. Maybe you always thought you were a Republican because your family was, but now it's time to realize what you actually believe. Take this really easy quiz and it'll show you which candidate your views align with.
17. How to check your credit score. You get a FREE copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies annually from AnnualCreditReport.com or call at 1-877-322-8228. If you haven't had it checked this year, call now and check for any errors so you can dispute them within 30 days of receiving your report.
18. How to set up a retirement account. There's a huge difference between Roth and Traditional, and you could be missing out of thousands of dollars the company WANTS to give you by not understanding the company's 401k match. There's thousands of cheap websites to set up IRAs with easy investment strategies that have been created based on what year you'll retire.
19. How to say no. I used to always make plans, only to cancel them last minute when I realized I had too much on my plate. I also always gave people the benefit of the doubt, and would treat them how I'd like to be treated. The past few years especially I've realized how damaging it is to allow toxic individuals to take up your time and energy. If people are not taking your life in a happier, positive direction, you don't owe it to anyone to keep them in your life, no matter who they are to you.
20. How to throw a party. Whether it's as simple as a fantasy draft, or as elaborate as a wedding, it's a good idea to start learning some basic etiquette rules on sending invitations and planning, while also making sure guests are having a good time.
21. How to be a good guest. As someone who threw a wedding, I now understand the importance of being a good guest. Returning RSVPs on time and not getting completely sloshed for fancier events, or just showing up on time and not only talking to those you know- not only will you save your friends from a headache, you'll actually enjoy the event a lot more as well.
22. How to budget and pay your bills. Now that you probably have multiple credit cards and loans, it's a good idea to find a way to get organized. I input my data on www.mint.com and it allows me to receive text notifications when I have a bill coming up, or have unusual spending in a certain category like food or shopping. I also recommend this book by Dave Ramsey for some finance tips. I love his views on saving and debt; smartest $14 bucks you'll ever spend.
23. How to stay in shape. I'm part of the 95% of the world that the only six pack I'll ever have is in the fridge, but I've realized the importance of maintaining my fitness after my athletic career ended. One of my old teammates (who has the other kind of six pack) pointed me in the direction of a great challenging but time efficient workouts, along with a shake I now take at breakfast and my life has dramatically changed for the better. Not only is it easier to wake up, but it's easier to go to bed- and I'm getting some of my athlete tone back. Be on the lookout for some Retired Athlete Workout Blog posts in the future, or feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to join one of our monthly Accountability/Challenge Groups!
24. How to clean. I've touched on laundry already, but just general things that either your dorm or a roommate took care of. I've learned the hard way it's much easier to complete these tasks in moderation instead of letting everything pile up (quite literally) and trying to tackle it at once. Not only learning which cleaners are used for what, but hopefully the number of working professional clothes you have now rival your sweat collection- and having some sort of organization for that.
25. How to embrace growing up. When I was 18, the iPhone was first introduced, and I thought this was the coolest thing ever. This phone topped all other phones, and had so many cool features. Now after seeing the iPhone 6, this iPhone 6 seems like a complete joke, and that's pretty spot on to how I see my 18 year-old self now. Most people after they turn 21 don't really see aging as something that is good. Certain experiences like going to college, being awesome at a sport, or the feeling of starting a new romance may never happen again, leading to a feeling of it's all downhill from here. The truth is aging is not like it. You get to find new things to be good at and different ways to spend your time rather than clinging desperately onto the glory days. You may not be able to afford a trip to the Olympics, or even Europe for that matter, but hopefully you can enjoy the upgrades you've had in life so far.