How to Be a Functioning Adult 101

Where was this class in high school? I have never used any formula I learned in chemistry in my adult life. What I did need to know was how to register to vote, how to write a check, how to file taxes, the ins and outs of real estate. A lot of people will say that it’s a parent’s job to educate their kids in this area, but not everyone has a parent around, and even those who do might not have ones who make reliable and smart choices themselves.

Advice is not always good.

In the past three years since graduating from high school, I’ve taken a crash course in Adulting. I wrote my first check (and had to google it to make sure that I was filling it our right) to pay the minister who officiated my wedding. I’d been handing my tax forms from work to my grandma and been happy enough to get a small refund in my account, but now I’m at a total loss because my husband is a contractor and owes big time. Plus, to add more confusion, we now have to figure out exemptions for marriage and having a baby, and that means braving the cat-invested wilds of grandma’s house.

And then now, my Facebook feed is blowing up with selfies featuring a “I’m a Georgia Voter” sticker and anti-Trump propaganda, prompting me to research how to register to vote because I didn’t even know it was election time. Considering presidential policies often effect things like teacher salaries, you’d think that would have been at the top of my high school administration’s list.

Bonus: Here lately I’ve been researching How To Buy A Friggin’ House and let me just tell you–they do not make it easy. Zillow lists a mortgage for a $99,000 house is going to be approximately $359 a month, but what they don’t tell you is that that’s factoring in a down payment of 20% (i.e. $19,980) and they’re entirely leaving out an estimated $124 for taxes and insurance. So realistically, we’re talking $655 for a 30 year fixed with nothing down because who has that kind of cash saved up? Then you have to round up (way up) for interest on your loan which they have grudgingly bestowed upon you, which brings us to $855 at least before utilities (e.g. water $100+, electric $200+, trash $50+).

Grand total = $1,205.

Believe it or not, we could actually afford this. Barely. But they won’t even approve us for a loan because my husband is a contractor (i.e. self-employed) and, subsequently, his income is not consistent enough for them to justify ‘taking a chance’ on us. So we’re stuck paying that much in rent instead of investing in a house.

And I found all this out one baby step at a time, never realizing how difficult the whole process was and how friggin’ nuts I was going to feel after piecing together the whole scheme.

And now that Facebook has made me so aware of politics (gee thanks), I’m sitting here thinking: these taxes are frustrating, this whole real estate nonsense is driving me crazy; where is the president who can fix this for me?

Answer: there is none.

So it’s a never-ending circle of frustration that feeds on my spiraling stress. Thank you American high school education. You did nothing for me.

P.S. I got a 78 on my first college paper and I was one of the “smart” ones.

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As seen here on Odyssey

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