9 Important Things Young Adults Need to Know Before they Turn 25

things young adults need to know

Here are the most important things young adults need to know before they turn 25 so that they don’t wake up their parents some random morning shouting how they need to know how to build credit, as my 19-year-old son did a few weeks ago.

My answer to him was, “Huh? I thought you knew”.

I was truly surprised, but it was also an opportunity to get cocky!

You thought you knew it all. Then you become an adult, and suddenly you find you need to buy a car, Insurance, rent an apartment, make a transaction, pay your taxes, pump gas, write a check, or even go to a dentist. It sounds simple, but these tasks may be daunting when it is your first time.

Life gives you the rudest awakening when you are an “unprepared” young adult.

But we can avoid all that simply by digging into the most important things young adults need to know and how to get started on each item. In reality, you may need to know up to 100 things, but with the following ten items, you should have a strong foundation on adulting.

We can do this, guys. Let’s dig in!

So, What Are 10 Important Things Young Adults Need to Know?

I must emphasize here that there is no science backing my selection of the top 10 things your adults need to know.

I called about 30 young adults, including mine, and asked them this question. Then I selected topics I felt were the most popular, as many young adults repeated them. Such items include building credit and things I know everyone needs for security, like managing money. Of course, there are tips I would never have thought of, like, how to deal with setbacks – but I think this is brilliant.

Got any tips for me? Please include it in the comments section below.

How to Manage Money

Most young adults start learning about money after their first paycheck, at 16 years old. And guess what they know? You got it right. They know that money can be spent. They learn that they can afford almost everything their parents deny them. They understand that they can eat whatever they want. They also know they can go to most fun places without asking for money.

Their habits become earn and spend.


Suddenly, they are out of the home, either off to college or just moved out, and things start becoming real, especially if you are out there without parental support.

You find you need to pay for necessities you never thought about before. Rent, of course, but then utilities and rental Insurance?

Then you have bills like your cell phone needs to get paid, car insurance, car note, gym, Spotify, and food??? Who even thought that food was an expense?

But still, come your healthcare co-pays, dental, vision, and physical care expenses, things you never thought of, and the list goes on!

So guess what? That money you were making at the age of 16 was never yours for spending. At least, most of it wasn’t. This is one of the main things young adults need to know about money.

If your parents never taught you to save, this is the time to learn this life skill.

Young adults need to know that debt is not their friend. It can put them in a lot of trouble.

All young adults need to know how to:

  • Live within a budget
  • Learn how to make enough money to sustain their current and future needs
  • Save 50 -75 percent of their take-home
  • Learn to invest their savings
  • Pay bills on time
  • Get rid of unnecessary subscriptions

How to Get a Real Job

If you were asking, my answer is, Yes! It would be best if you got a real job.

Most young people get their first jobs in the US by age 16. A few others start a bit earlier or later than this age.

Giant fast-food corporations take advantage of this eager and very able workforce, who are given responsibilities that sustain their billions in annual income while being compensated at the minimum possible wages. This workforce is still to receive recognition for their contributions to the economy, but I digress.

Most young adults come from this population. And while this is a great way to wet your feet in what can be, the problem lies in young people getting trapped in this kind of work.

Young adults may move from fast food to fast food, with the occasional break out to retail organizations and back into fast food. By doing so, they neglect an existing market that is hungry for their skills, is willing to pay much more, offers full benefits, and can give them the work skills and experiences they will need to grow their resumes and further their careers.

Yes, some companies need receptionists, billers, customer service folks, soft-sales, coordinators, executive assistants, project managers, claims experts, and so much more. Most of these jobs do not need a college degree or even a high school degree.

Among the things young adults need to know, they need to know how to get a real job. Below are a few tips.

  • Create a professional resume
  • Apply directly to the hiring managers (those who feel the pinch of an open job).
  • Build relationships with people who can give you a referral and ask for referrals to jobs you would like to see yourself in.
  • Learn how to present the skills you have acquired, first in a resume and then during interviews. You already have skills acquired at school and in minor jobs. These include multi-tasking, attention to detail, quick learning, interfacing with customers, working effectively with teams, customer service, communications, and so on. Flaunt these accomplishments on your resume, but be able to support them with specific instances when asked at an interview.
  • Flaunt your accomplishments and involvements – If you have ever won an award, competed at UIL, started a club in your high school, or done something outside your high school, such as completed a ramp with the Rotary club? Add this all to your resume, but make it relevant to the job you are seeking.
  • Build up your credentials. My daughter graduated high school with certificates of completion from a community college in Floral design, Phlebotomy, and EKG. This means she can find a job in a clinic, hospital, or art store. Take advantage of such opportunities in front of you, or seek out what certifications a job you are coveting needs.

How to Build Credit

Credit is essential to a young adult’s finances in the United States. With good credit, you can access the best offers and rates and acquire property or equity in properties you can benefit from. In simple terms, credit is better than cash.


You can start building credit as early as 18, the majority age in most US states. This is also the age when banks will allow you to open an account in your name without needing a joint party. This is also the age when credit cards will be issued to you in your name. Learn more here about things you can do when you turn 18.

Building credit is one of the top things young adults need to know; surprisingly, the process can be simple.

  • First, get a job. This will allow you to qualify on your own for certain credit cards.
  • Get a credit card and use it responsibly. Getting a credit card is one of the easiest ways to build credit, as your usage is reported to major credit bureaus. If you do not already have credit, you may need to get a secured card, which means you will need a make a refundable deposit to the card issuing company.
  • Convert all your purchases on your debit card to purchases on your credit card. Make sure you pay off these purchases every month before your credit card payment is due. These reportable use of your card will help push your credit score up.
  • Make purchases that are reportable to the credit bureau, such as a vehicle purchase in your name (or with a co-signer), some utility bills, etc., and make sure to pay these bills before the due date every month.
  • Avoid being late on any bill. If you are late and the invoice is sent to collections, pay it off before it is reported to the credit bureau.

How to Buy a Car & Get Insurance

For most young people, trying to buy a car is the first real shock they get when considering finances. As a young adult in the United States, you most likely will not qualify to purchase a new car without a co-signer. But never say never, as my third daughter did this all on her own at 21.

Unless you have enough cash to pay for your car up-front, for a used car, this could mean anywhere from 5K – 18K, and for a new car, 18K and above, the following tips are a life saver for first-time car purchases. f

Do the following to qualify for a car loan:

  • To show you can afford the car, put in enough work hours, and reduce expenses.
  • Work with the same company for an extended period, typically six months to 1 year, to show stability.
  • Have a good credit history to show responsibility and likeliness to pay back your car loan.
  • Have three good references.
  • Save up to 3 – 5 K for the down payment on your car. It could be a lot less, but 3 K is an excellent place to start, as car sales companies are usually nervous about selling to young adults.
  • Also, remember that the car sales company wants to see the vehicle insured once sold.

Getting Insurance for your first car:

Insurance is not difficult to get; instead, it is incredibly costly for young adults, given that young adults pose a high financial risk to insurance companies for the following reasons. They are not very experienced, are more likely to take risks or drive recklessly, and have less established credit than older adults.

To get Insurance for your vehicle, fill out an online form and submit it for quotes. If the quotes are acceptable to you, follow the insurance company’s directions to get your Insurance started.

If the quote is too expensive and you feel you can’t afford it, consider asking your parents to get a quote and see if theirs differs. You can pay for your share. Or, you can choose to get collision or liability coverage rather than comprehensive coverage with your insurance company. The difference is in the quality of coverage, with the cheaper coverage offering the bare basics and comprehensive Insurance covering most of the things that are affected when you have an accident.

How to Qualify for and Rent your First Apartment

As a young adult, there may be times when you want to leave your current living situation, especially if it is your parent’s home, and just get a new apartment.

Unfortunately, you will need help from quite a few people if this is your first time renting, you have defaulted on another rental, or you haven’t established a solid rental history.

To qualify to rent an apartment, most apartment management companies will need the following from you:

  • A guarantor or Co-signer (this can be your parents or anyone else that is willing to stand in for any costs you may incur as a renter)
  • Three references
  • Proof of stable income (your guarantor can be used here)
  • Good credit (your guarantor’s credit can be used here)
  • Guarantor’s fee (some apartments will ask for a guarantor’s fee if you don’t have a guarantor
  • Deposit (this varies. The first month’s payment and last month’s deposit are the industry standard, but apartments that deal with young adults, such as college students, usually ask for a lot less.

How to Deal With Setbacks

So you work hard to find the perfect new job, save your first and last deposits for a new apartment, take over the monthly payments on your car from mom and dad, get vehicle insurance in your name, start a new savings account, purchase all you need for your new apartment and move out of your parents home. After 30 days, your boss decides they can do without you, so you get fired.

Now you are stuck with next month’s rent, utility bills, car payments, insurance payments, and other expenses such as your phone bill.

Plus, you do not want to return to mom and dad (even though they will accept you with open arms).

What do you do?

Many young adults who do not prepare for setbacks become stuck when life happens. Some overthinkers and anticipating setbacks get them stuck too. This is why we have quite a few young adults who experience the failure-to-launch syndrome.

Young adults need to know how to deal with setbacks, and here are my favorite tips.

  • Anticipate setbacks and be prepared for them
  • Put away money for contingencies – as a young adult, you should try to put away money for three to six months of rent, utilities, and living before moving out if you have that option.
  • Have a support system in place – Your support system should include family and friends.
  • Understand what went wrong and learn from the process
  • Don’t give up because of a setback, maintain a positive attitude and work hard to get back on track

How to Make Progress with your Career

Some young people get to a point in their careers and feel stuck.

It could be that a high school or even a college graduate straight out of school gets a job, a new apartment, and everything else that comes with it, but five years down the road, it feels like you are still where you started, with nothing saved and no new growth.


One of the most important things young adults need to know is how to plan and grow their careers.

Below are my favorite tips for growing a career for young adults

  • Start by choosing the right career for you. Working at a restaurant as a server may give you a lot of money as a young person, but this is not a career, and apart from someday becoming a manager, there is no growth path here for you.
  • A significant number of young adults today do not plan their careers around jobs that are available or careers that are fast growing. As a former employment recruiter, I’d say this is a big mistake. When you are on a career path with a strong demand for employees, you will enjoy growth and are less likely to be out of work. The Bureau of labor services (BLS) maintains a list of fastest growing occupations, and every young adult should be aware of these opportunities.
  • Invest in you. I have heard many people say they would do this or that, even though it may rocket their careers to the next level, simply because it is expensive. Please don’t be one of those people, you are worth investing in.
  • Get a mentor. If you genuinely want to grow, find someone that has done what you wish to do, and have them as a mentor. Sometimes, a mentor may not be available to coach you one-on-one. But you can still follow them, research their methods, discover how they grew, and imitate those things that worked for them. This doesn’t mean you should copy them. Instead, learn and apply strategies from them while developing your own.

How to Care for your Health

Most people, including young adults, don’t think about their health until they get sick. One of the most important things young adults need to know is how to take care of themselves to reduce or prevent illness and what to do when they get ill.

The following are things you should do to care for your health as a young adult:

  • Choose healthy food and drinks.
  • Make sure you have the right supplements.
  • Also, stock up on essential over-the-counter medication for first-aid and common illnesses, such as pain relievers, antacids, cough syrup, antibiotic cream, hydrocortisone cream, band-aids, and so on.
  • Make sure you have Insurance. If you cannot get Insurance through your parents, then maybe you can through your college or government programs.
  • Find a healthcare practitioner with whom you can start a general care relationship.
  • Have a plan for emergencies.

How to Pay your Taxes

Right behind getting a job is knowing how to report your income to tax revenue services. In the United States, young adults are incentivized to learn this skill as they get tax returns based on their previous year’s income. I’m sure you will agree there is nothing as motivating as money back in your pocket.

To file your taxes in the US, you should collect your W-2s, which are the wage and tax statements used by employers to report wages paid for the previous year. You may use 1099s or your bank statements to report your income if you are an independent contractor.

W-2s are usually mailed out at the beginning of the year. They should arrive at an address you have provided in good enough time to meet the tax filing deadline of April 15th.

If not automatically sent, you may request 1099s from clients you have worked with or earned over $600 from the previous year.

Most individuals file the IRS form 1040, US individual tax return, and they may do so electronically or by mailing a paper copy. Please check with a tax professional to determine what tax forms you should file.

You can use one of the popular tax filing platforms when you are a young adult with little financial activity. Some popular ones include TurboTax, Cashapp, or e-File (I don’t have a relationship with any of these companies and mentioning them here is not a recommendation).

You can also file your taxes directly with the IRS at irs.gov/filing/individuals/how-to-file.


There are so many things young adults need to know as adulting comes fast at you. Hopefully, the tips shared in this post will get you well on your way.

Happy adulting!

Christine Udeani, JD
Christine Udeani, JD

Christine is a dedicated mother of six young adults and a teenager who has made significant contributions to the online world through her writing and entrepreneurship. She attended Northwestern University, Strayer University, Thomas M Cooley School of Law, NWCULAW, and holds degrees in business, Law, and Communications. She shares tips and experiences to help young adults and their parents with this generation’s issues.

Find me on: Web | Twitter


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