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In this episode of Making It Work, one woman describes the five best habits she's adopted to feel like a put-together grown-up.

Video narration by Keaton Talmadge

Video by Grace Lee

Based on an article by Mercedes Killeen:

The Financial Diet site:

Making It Work is brought to you by Rakuten, bringing you cash back, coupons, and promo codes for over 2,500 of the biggest name brands for free.

For the longest time, I was basically a train wreck. You couldn't depend on me for anything.

I was completely disorganized. My living space was a mess. My budgeting skills were nonexistent.

And I was generally not very good at adulting. But after spending several years in therapy and growing up, in general, there are certain habits I've developed that make me feel like an actual adult. I'm still far from perfect, but here are five of the most concrete habits that have helped me get my life in order.

Number one, arriving early to all of my appointments. There was a point in my life when I'd straight up forget that I had certain appointments, like the doctor or therapy. When I started the recovery process for my mental health issues, I had to juggle specialist appointments, in addition to attending college and working part time.

The first year of this was a disaster. My poor therapist wouldn't even get so much as a phone call to warn her that I wasn't going to make it. Obviously, that was super disrespectful in terms of wasting her time, and I was taking up precious space in her schedule that could have been given to someone else who needed the support.

So about a year or two into the recovery process, I made a point of being at least 10 to 15 minutes early to all of my appointments. I used a paper planner to map out my week, and I always allotted extra time in my schedule to account for issues like unplanned subway delays. I got good at being consistent, not only showing up when I said I'd be there, but also arriving early.

Not only has this new habit made me a more respectful and dependable human being, but it's also reduced my own stress levels, because I no longer feel guilty about wasting people's time. Number two, cleaning my living space at least once a week. Every Sunday afternoon, I set aside at least a couple of hours to deep clean my space.

I clear any lingering dishes, disinfect surfaces, like doorknobs and handles, dust, vacuum, change linens, stock my mini fridge with snacks and drinks for the week. And to make the experience fun, I love to put on a good podcast or blast some of my favorite music. And as a finishing touch, I also like to run my essential oil diffuser with a nice blend, such as lavender and peppermint, or lemongrass and eucalyptus.

Not only do the essential oils keep my space smelling fresh and clean, but the process of diffusing them also feels like a mini reward for myself. Number three, skipping the bar. I quit drinking about a year ago.

That was a personal decision to improve my mental health, but there have been plenty of other benefits, too. I used to be someone who'd get blackout drunk pretty much every single weekend. It was something I looked forward to as a way of letting loose or having fun.

But you know what's actually way more fun? Not waking up every Sunday morning wanting to crawl into a hole because you're deathly hung over and you've lost your wallet. Of course, alcohol has its place in many people's lives.

And if you can comfortably enjoy having a few drinks, then more power to you. But I found that my alcohol use was actively creating problems and worsening my health. So I chose to stop.

After doing so, I feel way more mature, spending my low key weekends cleaning, exercising, running errands, and meeting friends for coffee or study dates instead. Plus, my finances and health are better for it. Number four, checking my credit score on a regular basis.

For the longest time, I completely ignored my credit score. Now, I never defaulted on any credit card or had a debt go to collections, but I still felt really anxious about facing my financial situation. It was the same reason I hated looking at my account balances, you know, a total fear of reality.

But when my credit card was compromised a few years ago, my bank suggested that I run a credit report to make sure no other accounts had been opened in my name. That was the first time in my life that I even knew what my credit score was. Don't laugh.

Now, the score itself was perfectly fine, but I still felt weird and scared about the whole process. It wasn't until I got serious about my finances that I made it a habit to check my score frequently. Now, using free online services, I check my score several times per month.

You definitely don't need to be that rigid with it, but I found it motivating to see the numbers slowly go up as I've paid off my consumer debt. Not only am I aware of my credit score, I'm also able to catch any hard inquiries on my credit report, which is helpful in terms of catching potential identity theft or errors. Number five, learning how to do my own taxes.

Anyone who knows me knows that I suck at all things math. I'm horrible with numbers. Even the simplest of calculations warrants the use of a calculator.

So for the longest time, I just outsourced my taxes. But a couple of years ago, I started doing more freelance work and also began earning a bit of money from my poetry book sales. Suddenly, I had business income to report, so my tax specialist kindly advised me to figure something else out.

Since I was now filing business taxes, his rates would be way higher, and it didn't make sense to pay so much to get my taxes done when I wasn't making massive amounts of money. After calling the Canada Revenue Agency directly, they advised me to get some tax preparation software and do it myself. If I couldn't afford to pay a professional, that was pretty much my only option.

And if you're in the US, the IRS has a useful page of tools to help you learn how to do your taxes. I met with a small business advisor who gave me free advice on properly doing my taxes. I found free or affordable software, and over time, I actually learned how to file my taxes.

And if I can do it, anyone can do it, and that goes for any kind of adulting. Spending like a responsible adult doesn't mean not spending any money on things you love. It just means being smart about it.

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