10 out of 10 Millennials agree: adulthood is scary. Having to pay for everything yourself? Scary. Doing your own taxes? Scary. Being responsible for things? Scary. Thinking about your future outside the nest? VERY SCARY.
With the state of the economy and the job market, it’s a rough time to be embracing your burgeoning independence. But that doesn’t mean you can avoid it forever. With great power comes great responsibility, as Uncle Ben from Spiderman says, so take his words (but not his untimely fate) to heart. That mind-blowing power to determine your own fate, however, comes with strings attached. Here are five types of apps that can help you to pluck and play those strings carefully, and hopefully, someday, masterfully.
1. Money managing apps
Being financially independent is exciting! You can buy anything and everything you want from SkyMall! Hooray! Except not. For most people, when the first of the month rolls around, financial obligations take priority. The fun stuff usually comes second. Under the umbrella of “financial obligations” lies all of those terrible, costly things: rent/mortgage payments, car/credit card/student loan payments, medical bills, utility/cell bills, and last but not least, a retirement/savings account.
You don’t have a retirement account? Consider starting one. You may think it’s ridiculous now, but the amount of money you're stashing in it grows over time. So the longer you’re funneling money into an account, the more secure you can feel in your future retired life as a hula dancer in Hawaii.
By keeping track of your credit card bills and loan payments, you can ensure that you’re not getting deeper into debt, and that you’re gaining ground on an eventual balance of zero. Most credit card providers like Discover, American Express, and Capital One have apps to help you manage your finances.
Keeping track of your money is one of the single most important responsibilities you have to your present and future self. Try not to make purchases that will make your future self say things like, “Did I really need replicas of Deadpool’s unique uniform and weaponry?” Even if the answer is “Yes” right now, remember that more student loan payments now means more guilt-free Marvel-Comics-related purchases down the line.
2. Budgeting apps
If you’ve reached this point in the article, you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “Wow, if reading this article is as boring as actual adulthood is, I can’t wait to stop reading and go play Mario Kart!” Completely understandable, but the thing is, you need to know this stuff, because there’s going to be a test later. This test is called THE REST OF YOUR ADULT LIFE.
There are two types of budgeting apps: those for financial budgeting, and those for time budgeting.
Budgeting your money
If managing your money still feels intimidating, you might want to look into financial budgeting apps. Apps like Mint (Google Play store / iTunes store) and GoodBudget Budget Planner (Google Play store / iTunes store) hold you accountable for each purchase/payment you make.
Based on your monthly earnings, you carve out a set dollar amount that you cannot surpass for spending in individual categories like utility bills, food, gas/travel, entertainment, etc. When you enter each purchase/payment into the app, it automatically subtracts it from that value. This means that you know how much money you have available to spend on booze or electricity in real time. These apps also show trends about your overall spending habits, which can be, depending on your habits, very illuminating or very depressing.
Budgeting your time
Time budgeting, that is, getting yourself to places on time, is equally as important as financial budgeting. It’s true; there is no attendance-taking in the working world. But if you consistently show up to work late, your boss and your coworkers are going to A) notice or B) resent you. If you consistently show up late to events held by people you know and/or love, they're going to A) notice or B) resent you. If you consistently show up late to raids on your favorite MMORPG, your guild is going to A) notice, B) resent you, or C) let you get eaten by a magical beast.
Fortunately, all of this can be avoided by keeping track of your time commitments. UpTo Calendar (Google Play store / iTunes store) is a great app in which you can create individual or repeating events on a calendar that displays events both by day and by hour; conflicting or overlapping time commitments are visible at a glance. UpTo Calendar also allows you to follow calendars that are adjusted based on your preferences; these calendars can include the timing of company-wide meetings, sports events, and TV shows.
Showing up at places in a timely fashion tells the other parties involved that you are A) responsible, B) interested, or C) desirous of not being eaten by a mythical creature.
For a calendar that comes with other functionalities, be sure to check out the original awesome calendar app, Sunrise Calendar. Sunrise Calendar was recently acquired by Microsoft, and will only be available in Microsoft Outlook (Google Play store / iTunes store), starting in September.
3. DIY apps
One of the best things about being an adult is having your own apartment/room of requirement/whatever. You can throw your dirty socks on the floor, sashay around in your birthday suit, and hang that David Bowie poster, all without feeling the narrowed eyes of parental judgment!
However, the physical act of actually hanging said David Bowie poster with means more sophisticated than push pins and duct tape may not be as easy as you think. This is where the DIY apps come in.
The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius (Google Play store / iTunes Store) and Handymobi Home Improvement DIY (Google Play store / iTunes store) allow you to search through thousands of potential projects, from painting and woodwork to plumbing repair and yard maintenance. These apps have step-by-step instructions and/or videos, as well as DIY tips in general. With Handymobi, you can also make lists of and get pricing information for materials, as well as contact a professional if your DIY skills (and these apps) fail you.
Hopefully, with these apps, you can get your shower to drain normally without having to call in your cousin’s creepy friend in a desperate, last-minute assist.
4. Food preparing/preservation apps
If you want to eat Taco Bell or Subway three meals a day, then more power to you! As an adult, you have the autonomy to make that kind of decision. If not, then read on for two types of apps that will help you to manage your food life.
Who doesn’t love the super salty flavor of Ramen Noodles? Or the cooking ease of Kraft Mac & Cheese? Unfortunately, (wo)man cannot live by boiling water alone. There are tons of recipe apps, but the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner (Google Play store / iTunes store) is especially helpful for people just emerging into the world of feeding themselves.
The Allrecipes app, in addition to having many recipes, will also generate a list of recipes that fit your slot-machine-like entries of meal type, main ingredient, and desired preparation time. This means that, even if all you have in the house is an onion and some Cocoa Puffs, you can still probably make something edible for dinner in 20 minutes. Pictures and ratings accompany each recipe, and a shopping list functionality is also available.
A second problem you may encounter is determining the lifespan and viability of food that’s been in your fridge for extended periods of time. FoodKeeper (Google Play store / iTunes store) is an app created by the USDA to help you decide whether to brave the three-week-old sandwich that may or may not be hosting sentient life.
With suggested expiration dates for individual ingredients that you can add to your calendar, FoodKeeper puts an end to any indecision you face when confronted with the leftover burrito bowl you got at Chipotle last month. Just because it looks okay on the camera in your smart fridge doesn't mean it's safe to eat.
Basically, this app wants to save you from emergency visits to the bathroom.
5. Gaming apps
As much as this article may make you think otherwise, adulthood isn’t all about being responsible and correct and timely and professional. Never fear! Being an adult can be fun and relaxing as well.
Making time to chill like a villain is vital to the mental health of every adult. If you ever find yourself on public transportation, see if you can sneak a glance at the screens of the very focused and serious-looking adults sitting near you. The results are probably 50/50 split between emails and games like "Clash of Clans" (Google Play store / iTunes store).
These types of games are popular with the working world for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s a sense of escapism. Why focus on how sardine-like you feel on the subway when instead, you can mine gold and elixir? Winning games also generates a sense of accomplishment. So even if you can’t find the one tiny syntax error in 15,000 lines of code after looking for a week, you can still build and maintain a bustling village for future raiding purposes. Finally, playing these games can help you release pent-up aggression that isn't appropriate to express in your real life. Are coworkers stealing all of your pens, and then complaining about a lack of writing utensils? Try setting buildings on fire with your really angry dragon!
So embrace your adulthood, and get some seriously fun games for your phone.
If this article makes you want to flee adulthood like you’re being pursued by Voldemort, just remember that as an adult, you have to be able to take the good with the bad. It just so happens that the “bad” is all about hoarding money, managing time commitments, fixing broken things, and avoiding horrible diarrhea-inducing wasting diseases. The “good” is the intangible feeling of independence, as well as the ability to throw bombs at a Goblin King.
You can do it, Millennials! Despite all of the depressing things going on in the world right now, the future is yours for the taking. Just don’t “take” that lasagna from the Fourth of July cookout. Seriously.