Grow up! Your 7-step guide to being an adult
‘Adulting’ can be daunting but Katie Strick is here to share some wisdom from the veterans
There are some things school does not teach you — how to ask for a pay rise, what to look for on a house viewing, how much to spend on a wedding present. Then — ta-dah! — you’re an adult, and suddenly, somehow, you’re expected to know (and wonder how everyone else seems to).
Evening Standard journalist Lucy Tobin and Emerald Street editor Kat Poole want to change this. Their new book, Being An Adult: The Ultimate Guide to Moving Out, Getting A Job and Getting Your Act Together, is a manual for navigating modern life: a self-help guide for millennials according to ‘proper’ adults, including a plumber, a doctor and a personal finance expert. It’s a practical guide interspersed with personal anecdotes.
The authors both remember the moment they realised they were no longer a child. For Tobin, it was learning a school friend was pregnant “on purpose”, while for Poole the realities hit when her dad became ill. Now they’ve compiled the hottest knowhow into one simple tome. From emergency DIY tips to dressing for the office, it’s the adult stuff you need to know.
1 DON’T DIAL IT IN
Cooking can be daunting, so the book draws up some handy lists. Always have rosemary, thyme, tarragon and mixed herbs in stock and make sure there’s a stock of wine at home for kitchen nightmares. There are useful recipes for different occasions too: a Bolognese sauce, a speedy stir-fry for two or a roast chicken recipe for impressing the family.
2 HACK YOUR HEALTH
There are five easy steps to feeling better in a month, says the book’s resident doctor, GP Dr Dan Bernstein. Cut down on booze, ditch the cigarettes, sleep better, do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day and try to unwind — even if this means turning down party invitations. He debunks some common myths. Wearing a vest won’t stop you catching a cold, squeezing spots won’t result in scars, and you don’t need to tilt your head back to stop a nosebleed — just squeeze. If you need to call in sick, pick up the phone (so if you’re going to pull a sickie, you will have to practise that mucus-filled voice).
3 NAIL DIY
Fixing leaks, building shelves, retrieving lost jewellery from the plughole — Tobin and Poole have all the sexy household jobs covered, plus a list of all the tasks you shouldn’t attempt yourself, like fixing a gas leak and removing asbestos. To sort squeaky floorboards, shake talcum powder through the cracks; to unblock a sink, use an unwound coat hanger; to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, fit an alarm in the same room as your boiler.
4 WORK IT
Nailing job interviews and examining contracts are important, but so is office chat, and compiling a work wardrobe. The book outlines the basics of asking for a pay rise — know why you’re asking, list the reasons, practice asking and crucially, find the right time (ahead of the annual pay review and before any new team members start). There’s a section on starting your own business for the modern-day freelancer.
5 CONQUER LIFE ADMIN
This is one of the worst parts of being an adult, particularly ‘that drawer’. To stay on top of it, Tobin and Poole suggest tackling it once a week and setting out lists for what you can recycle pronto, versus what you should keep for ever, aka tax documents and job contracts. They recommend the Evernote app for to-do lists, Loyalive for loyalty points, IFTTT for remembering your umbrella and Good Budget for bill reminders.
6 MAKE FRIENDS
Tobin and Poole don’t neglect the emotional side. They call this part the ‘Citymapper for your personal life’ and it covers from what to say to someone going through a break-up to breaking up with someone yourself (choose a park or a coffee shop, and be certain). For weddings, get on the gift list before all that’s left is an expensive milk jug, and base your spending on how much you earn — £20 to £60 is fine. Jobs, news, sport and outfits are good conversation starters, and if you’re ending one, keep it polite.
7 FACE TAX
What is a credit rating? The book explains this, along with summaries on tax, life insurance and student loans. For saving, “set up a standing order into an account that comes out on the day you get paid”, and there’s a whole section on “becoming a financial couple”, from sharing a Netflix account to moving in together. Income disparities are a good test of friendships — “the good ones [stick] around”, and on birthdays, give friends vouchers to baby-sit or cook.
TAKING CONTROL: being an adult isn’t easy