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Advice Column: I Moved Out at 18. How Do I Survive in the Real World?

Leaving home? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

By Rick Piñon Delgado

Most “adulting” advice focuses on savings accounts and retirement plans. But what about the minuscule and tedious roadblocks that people face in the real world?

Like losing your keys. Or dealing with a hellish hangover.

After you leave or get pushed out of the nest, you’ll need some basic coping skills. Expect the worst and hope for the best, as they say. Here’s how to handle three common problems all on your own.

What if I Lose My Keys?

Imagine your car, apartment, and bike lock keys were attached on a carabiner. Now they’re gone. Your day just went from bad to worse.

You’ll want to start by finding the nearest locksmith. Do NOT call the car dealership. They’re $$$.

Search for nearby locksmith locations (the closer, the cheaper) and call them for information. Ask for price quotes and whether or not they can come to you. It might take a few hours.

Once your car is accessible again, relax. Buy yourself some ice cream.

Replace your car key as soon as possible, then replace the less important keys. Do your future self a favor by buying a spare to all your keys. KeyMe kiosks remember your key data and can cut unlimited spares, but you can also have keys cut at HomeDepot.

If you feel like losing your keys is going to be a regular thing, try the Tile Mate Key Finder app.

This Bluetooth chip connects to your phone and tracks it. Attach it to your keys so whenever you lose them, you can ping them through your phone.

What if I Drink too Much?

It is important to find a balance between partying and work and school. It’ll be the best way to enjoy the rest of your youth without losing quality career-building time.

Pedialyte will keep you alive through the night and may help you get to your 9 a.m. lecture the next day. According to Pedialyte’s website, the best time to drink a cup of the rejuvenation potion is if you’re feeling tired and dehydrated after a couple of drinks. It will lessen the chances of a hangover the following day.

Make sure you buy a bottle before going out. This step is crucial. Bars don’t sell Pedialyte and my neighborhood Walgreens closes at 11 p.m. 

Another trick: ditch the club early and set those alarms. Six hours of sleep will be enough to get you through most work days. If must be up by 7 a.m., make sure you’re home and asleep by 1 a.m.

You could still hit the Walgreens for Pedialyte if you call it an early night!

But I Still Want to Know About Credit Cards…

Some people leave home with a wallet full of money, but most of us are deep in debt after a party weekend. And for those of us, there are credit cards.

A credit card is loaned money that when used must be paid back in a timely manner. Banks charge interest to use the borrowed money. Debit cards are different from credit cards because you have to deposit money from a paycheck in order to have a balance.

“There’s nothing wrong with using a credit card, as long as it is you controlling the card and not the other way around. A well-managed credit card can help you build a good credit rating,” according to a survival guide for 18-year-olds funded by the California Bar Foundation.

Anyone with a stable job should apply for a credit card so managing money and building your credit score become easier to understand.

But only borrow what you can repay — and budget for that interest rate, which will be 15-25% on most cards. Some credit companies offer 0% intro APR rates for the first year, and lots offer perks for using cards, like travel miles.

Credit cards come with different terms and conditions so read that fine print carefully. And keep an eye on your credit score. Bad credit can burn you when you apply for apartments or try to lease a car.


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