Your 20s are all about figuring out how the hell the world works, what your place is in it, and more often than not, how to afford it. Too often you’re too busy learning the system to spend much time on how to get around it or make it more convenient for you. That’s where we come in with this week’s Twenty-Something Tuesday: Life hacks, tips, and cheats to make the every day just a little more bearable.[divider][/divider]
Not to beat a dead horse, but knowing how to use Craigslist is seriously useful. As you move out into the real world, you’re going to want to shed a lot of your past life, and that might include some old stuff. You might need a quick buck or two as well.
Use “Pack This!” lists when packing.
As your group of friends spreads out post-college, you might start traveling a bit more, so learn to pack quickly and more efficiently with these “Pack This!” lists. Never forget your iPhone charger again.
Keep your travel toiletry items packed up.
With any luck, your 20s will be filled with some spontaneity. Be prepared to get out of town on the fly by keeping a toiletry bag packed with travel-size hygiene essentials so all you have to do is grab it, pack some clothes and hit the road.
If your gut tells you something, listen to it.
If you have a feeling that that relationship isn’t going to work out, if your stomach is doing barrel rolls before going to work everyday, if you just have a feeling that something is just not a great idea—odds are you are going to be right. Listening to your intuition can be hard, because it could seriously throw you out of your comfort zone, but the last place you want to be in your early 20s is your comfort zone.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
As Elliott Smith said: “There’s always that argument to make—that you’re in better company historically if people don’t understand what you’re doing.” Comparing yourself to others is the fastest and surest way to become discouraged. Just do your thing and not someone else’s.
If you’re constantly on the go, keep supplies where you need them.
You’re likely constantly on the go, and if you’re commuting then you’re living out of your car more often than not. Therefore your car needs to be equipped with basic necessities—keep some spare makeup, hand sanitizer, face wipes, a change of clothes, a sealed water bottle, a pair of flats, a blanket, and a car charger—at the minimum. A travel pack of your go-to meds is a good idea too—allergy, headache, tummy, etc.—as well as sealed snack pack of crackers when you’re late and there’s no time for food. The same goes for the office, your friends’ apartment who may be closer to work than yours, or any other place where it would be far easier for you to pop in than going all the way back to your place.
Cherish your family.
As cliche as it may seem, don’t take your family for granted. You will have minor (and major) disagreements but, at the end of the day, blood is thicker than water. Friends are great, lovers are fantastic, and co-workers are fun, but they owe you nothing. There is something beautiful about the bond between siblings or when you finally realize you are your mother’s daughter. Your family influences so much of who you are and how you form your opinions. Give them credit, love them, and put time into your relationships with them.
Figure out your opinions.
Religion, politics, the digital era, kids, marriage, diets, whatever it is: Figure out your stand on them. You don’t have to go screaming it to everyone else, but at least you can move along comfortably. And if anyone ever asks about your opinions you’ll be able to calmly tell them instead of blabbering on with “umm” and “I don’t know.”
Process your emotions.
Really analyze what you’re feeling when you’re upset, stressed, anxious, sad. Your partner, friends, and family will all thank you for it. Generally speaking, processing your emotions will help you be able to communicate them better, and maneuver around taking your bad energies out on the people you love most. Unless they were the ones that upset you. In that case, you’ll be able to go into the confrontation more calmly, and be able to really get to the heart of the problem. And you’ll negate the issue of, “Whoops, I should have said that, I forgot to say that!” that can happen at the end of an argument or conversation. Nobody likes that.
Resume building is often overlooked. Resumes can make you or they can break you. Take the time to edit, brainstorm, and peer-review that joker. Aside from a cover letter, your resume is your only introduction to potential employers. Keep it updated. There’s nothing worse than wanting to apply for an awesome job and realizing your resume hasn’t been updated in a hot minute. If you update it on the regular, you avoid the freakout sesh of, “Oh shit! There’s six months unaccounted for in 2012? What was I doing with my life?!”
Don’t spend more than you make.
It is as simple as that. Despite the desires of your heart, do not spend more than you make. Budget your money, save your money and realize that debt and a bad credit score will stay with you for a very long time. Instead of charging that new Coach purse to your credit card, put $20 per week in an envelope until you have enough.
Keep your vital documents together and secure.
Whether you’ve just moved out of Mom and Dad’s, got married, or you’re sharing a place with five other folks, you need to know where your key documents (birth certificate, passport, social security card, health insurance, etc.) are located. Is it in a safe spot? Can you put your hands on it at a moment’s notice? If you had to get out of your house in a jiffy because of an emergency can you get them quickly? Do you really want to go through the process of having those things replaced?
Don’t give everything you are to your job.
If you’re really lucky, maybe you’re doing what you love and are passionate about. For the rest of us we’re likely doing whatever job that lets us make money and that happened to hire us. Maybe it’s because of the recession or that we’re loaded down with student debt, but the fear that if we don’t break our backs at the will of our bosses we’ll have no job is setting us on the path for burnouts before we’re 30. Leave some time and space for yourself. Set boundaries with your work—they employ you. They don’t own you. Don’t answer emails after a certain time, don’t respond while you’re on vacation (and take time off, even if it’s just to your couch), schedule that doctor’s appointment, and don’t ever let your job be the most important thing in your life, because it very likely will not be something great to snuggle with in ten years time.
Apps are your friend.
Seriously. People may make jokes, but there is seriously an app for that. Smartphones are for so much more than playing games and browsing Tinder these days. Especially when it comes to sharing bills (Venmo), hailing a cab (Uber or Hail-o), forgetting your debit card (Lemon Wallet) and taking your birth control (Miss Mint; not so much an app, but a text service), there is no reason why a smartphone can’t make you smarter.
Keep a journal.
Whether it’s in paper form, online, in blog form or even in writings (such as writing for Literally, Darling… hint hint.) you won’t want to forget this time in your life. Make sure you keep track of important life events as well as little things. So many fun things happen in your 20s and you’ll want to remember them.
Secret Cash Stash
Picture this, you’re both buck naked… and there’s not a credit card in sight. Yes, it’s 2014 and who the hell uses cash anymore, but that’s all the more reason to keep a stash in various places. Imagine being stranded and your credit card won’t work or they don’t take it, but you’ve got a secret $50 bucks in your glovebox; or you need to pay someone back who doesn’t have a PayPal, but there’s $75 stuck in your sock drawer so you’re still safe. Stash that cash folks, if for no other reason you’ll find it one day and have a guilt-free splurge.
Buddy up on Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts.
This isn’t particularly inspiring, but it is useful. You can have a couple people on an account which makes your Netflix (which I’m partial to) or Hulu addiction all the more acceptable. I mean, four dollars is practically criminal for all the binge-watching that can produce!
Know the purpose of your social media accounts.
Is your Twitter account something you want to show a future employer? Are your blog posts something you want shining below your name? This is important to know because it is the norm these days for potential employers to google your name to see what you’ve been up to. If you don’t want your social media accounts linked to your name, then make them private or don’t put your last name on the account. Twitter is truly the bees knees, but you don’t want those snarky conversations full of swearing to put you on the blacklist.
Put your phone in airplane mode when you need it to charge quickly.
We’ve all been in that position where we are headed out in less than 15 minutes but our phone is almost dead. When a car charger or using the bar’s outlet is not an option, switch your phone into airplane mode. It will charge much faster, since it is not using any data or service. Don’t look at the screen to see the charging status or the time. You’ll get the most power possible in the short time you have!
Go back to stores you’ve recently shopped at to check for sales.
Always, always save your receipts and stop at stores you shopped at last week just to see if the clothes you bought have gone on sale since then! Most stores offer price adjustments, where they will refund the difference between what you spent then and what the item is on sale for now. The buffer time is usually 14 days, so check back before the time is up! Nothing is sweeter than getting money back AND getting to keep the clothes!
Find your therapy.
Nothing is better for you than therapy. In whatever form you find it—music, writing, reading, art, working out, counseling—taking that time every now and then to be with yourself and evaluate what you need is hands down the best thing you can do.
Comment below or tweet us @LitDarling your best life hacks!