How to Adult for Dummies


Vicki Zhang and Jami Citko

After graduating high school, teens are quick to realize that there are many crucial real-world skills that school didn’t teach. How do you rely on yourselves without depending on your family? You may know the Pythagorean Theorem, but what do you know about health and how to take care of yourselves? Adulthood can be scary, but not all life skills have to be complicated; here are a few tricks to make your transition smoother. 

Generic Brands
Don’t judge by the cover! Grocery shopping can be way more expensive than it seems, and branded items can easily eat through your wallet. Luckily, most stores sell off-brand versions of food that cost less and usually aren’t bad quality compared to the branded items. That being said, there are some foods that should never be bought generic: peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, coffee, and chocolate are usually better off branded because, according to Mashed, they use low-quality ingredients, which is evident in the flavor, and they can also be significantly less healthy than their high-brand equivalents. 

Thrift Shops
Macklemore was onto something with his 2012 hit “Thrift Shop.” A whole outfit for under $20? What’s not to love? Take advantage of used clothing! It saves money, reduces waste and pollution, supports charity, and often offers higher quality than comparatively-priced new clothing, and Apps and websites like Depop and Poshmark make it easy to shop used without even getting off the couch. Thrifting is increasingly popular recently, too, and a lot of today’s fashion is based on older styles. It’s a win-win! 

Car Necessities
Ever get a flat tire while driving far from home? Accidentally leave your car lights on all night? Chances are, if they haven’t happened to you already, these situations will occur at least once in your life, so it is important to be prepared. Take a few minutes to learn how to change a tire, and practice if you can. Thrillest suggests to always keep a spare tire, a jack, jumper cables, a first aid kit, a blanket, and a flashlight in your car in case of emergency. You never know when your car will malfunction, and you don’t want to be helplessly stuck somewhere. 

Cleaning Supplies
Knowing which cleaning products to buy is a relatively new skill for most teens, depending on your home experience, but there a few staple products to have on hand. For flat, hard surfaces, especially kitchen and bathroom areas, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are highly recommended. They act like fine sandpaper to get rid of stains and work best when you don’t press too hard on the surface. According to Wired, the success of the product can be attributed to its chemical components: melamine, formaldehyde, sodium bisulfate, and water. For pretty much everything except wood furniture and stone countertops, white vinegar is an environmentally-friendly cleaner that can be bought in bulk for a low price. According to Kitchn, the acidity of vinegar is what makes it a good cleaner, and “it can dissolve away soap scum, brines left by hard water, and glue left behind by stickers.” Baking soda is another cheap, nontoxic substance that can clean anything from outdoor furniture to fruit in addition to being a crucial ingredient in chocolate chip cookies. 

Dishwasher Dilemma
You may have heard this before, but don’t put Dawn in the dishwasher! You don’t want to end up like that guy on twitter who made his leaky dishwasher into a song. There’s a difference between dish soap and dishwasher soap, so make sure you buy the right kind at the store to avoid turning your kitchen into a bubble bath. If you do find yourself in that situation, run your dishwasher empty with olive oil or vinegar and salt in the soap slot to neutralize and get rid of the suds inside. 

First Aid Kit
Everyone gets hurt eventually, whether it’s a tiny paper cut or slicing a finger while chopping veggies. A standard first-aid kit should include band-aids of multiple sizes and shapes, gauze pads, alcohol wipes, scissors, antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin), fever/cold medicine, an ice pack, a thermometer, and pain killers. Though it might not seem necessary right now, it’ll be worth it in the long run. 

Ramen is a staple for any new adult due to its low price, but another benefit is versatility. Instead of using the packaged spices that are included with ramen, which have an unhealthy amount of sodium, try mixing up your own spices for flavor. A combination of garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, and salt is an easy substitute, but there are tons of combinations to try. Add some veggies and/or hard-boiled eggs to ensure enough protein in the diet. Aside from ramen, keep rice, pasta, flour, sugar, cheese, eggs, milk, chicken, frozen veggies, and a variety of spices on hand for a diverse selection of healthy meals on a budget. Nutrition is crucial to energize yourself every day for the wellbeing of your body. Adulthood can get rough, but never forget to take care of yourself.