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“Adulting” 101: Considerations for a Working Adult

As you are evaluating job offers the first thing you look at is likely the salary, while the rest is white noise. But I’ll be the first to tell you that the “boring stuff” matters. In fact, your understanding of it will make a difference in your standard of living. As you are learning how to “adult” you probably also have questions about savings, budgeting, taxes, and even living arrangements. Below you will find brief tips and additional adulting resources.

For more on what to look for in a full-time job offer letter, view our past blog here.


  • Know your company’s matching policy. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that dollar-for-dollar is now the most common 401(k) match. Be sure to pay attention to the matching formula of your specific company as matching percentages vary.
  • Pay attention to when you are vested (i.e. when you can get ALL contributions out of a retirement plan). Any money you contribute from your paycheck is always 100% yours. However, funds from company matching generally vest over time. Once you are fully vested, you can take the entire fund with you when you leave your employer. Check with your benefits administrator to find out your company’s vesting schedule.


  • Know what’s best for you. Some companies offer choices for your health coverage with out-of-pocket and deductible variances. If this is your first time obtaining your own health coverage, consult with the person you were previously covered under (i.e. parents and guardians). Get an idea of what your needs have been to determine the plan that is right for you.
  • Understand the value. According to CNN Money, healthcare insurance benefits are by far the biggest expense to employers (following salary).  For more about benefits packages outside of just salary, check out our blogs here and here

Savings and budgeting

  • Start a savings account. If you don’t have one start one today—it’s never too late or too early. According to CNBC, personal finance advisors indicate that you should save 20% of your income. If you can follow that rule, do so! However, starting small by saving just 5% is better than nothing at all.
  • Don’t go shopping hungry. You’ve probably heard about or experienced this yourself, but the results are real and do not just pertain to grocery shopping. reported that a study found those who shopped while hungry spent 64% more money than those who were less hungry.
  • Stick to a budget. Create a simple and realistic budget. Consider using the 50/20/30 rule as a starting point. Allocate 50% of your income towards necessities, 20% towards savings, and 30% towards wants. Calculate your total monthly income and average your monthly expenses in each category (groceries, rent/ mortgage, utilities, other bills, etc.) Once you have a working budget, make lifestyle or budgetary adjustments as appropriate.


  • Do them (income taxes). I’m sorry, but this one you can’t get around. The tax deadline is generally April 15th each year and not filing on time can result in hefty penalties. Be sure to file your federal, state, and local taxes as online tax preparation sites only file your federal and state.
  • Use your resources. The OSU Fisher College of Business offers a Free Fisher Tax Clinic. You can find out more information here.

Apartments and homes

  • Weigh the pros and cons. When purchasing a home you are required to pay property taxes. There are a slew of benefits for both apartments and homes. Determine the pros and cons for your unique lifestyle and financial situation.
  • Do your research. Actually go to the apartment you intend to lease prior to signing the lease. Where you live should be safe and comfortable. Be sure to test the commute during rush hour, check out the neighborhood at night, and be thorough in your inspections. If you plan to purchase a home be sure to research the purchasing process and ALWAYS get things in writing.

“Being an adult is all about how well you can hide the fact that you’re still a kid.” -Unknown

Categories: Miscellaneous

About the author

Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a Career Counselor at Engineering Career Services.