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Preparing to become independent

If you’re leaving for college soon for the first time, chances are you’re keeping a close watch on that calendar and watching the days tick away. As it gets closer and closer, the reality that you’re going to be leaving home will start to sink in. Already you’re probably feeling the excitement increasing.

But admit it, you’re probably a bit nervous too. For the first time, you’ll be on your own. If you’re used to your parents constantly being there for you and hawking over you, this is going to be quite the new experience. When you have a part-time job to survive, take a look at this paycheck calculator to see how your hourly earnings compare to a full salary.

It’s definitely best to start fending for yourself. Becoming more self-reliant now will save you a lot of hassle of having to learn it later on.

Learn to do your own laundry

Perhaps the biggest doozy on this list, learning how to do laundry is definitely something you should figure out now rather than later. A lot of kids do their own laundry, but if you’re one of those lucky enough to have a parent or other family member do it for you, it would be a smart choice to start figuring out how it’s done.

Ask your mother (or whoever does it) if you can help her the next time she does laundry. Learn how to separate your clothes and what constitutes different sizes of loads. Learn how to wash towels and bedsheets as well. Learn how the dryer works too.
Make sure you understand what to put in the wash as well for each type of clothes. Chances are laundry supplies were on your college dorm checklist too, so understand how to use them.
For more help on laundry, check out eHow’s page on laundry.

Get your finances in order

If you’re used to bumming a few bucks off of Mom and Dad when you want to go to the movies, now’s the time to start learning how to manage your own money. Figure out how you’re going to manage your money next year — do you need to create a new bank account? sign up for a credit card? Learn how to use an ATM?
If you’re a big impulse buyer, get in the habit of not carrying a lot of cash on you, that way even if you’re tempted to spend, you won’t be able to.
Start budgeting your money if you don’t know how. Keep a list of money you make and of money you spend. Make sure you never spend more than you make unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as for college books or gas.

Housekeeping basics

If you don’t do much around the house to keep things clean, now’s the time to start. Learn how to vacuum well, how to clean windows, how to change bedsheets, how to clean a toilet, etc. It never hurts to have more skills than you’ll use. Learn to pick up after yourself: cleanliness can be a big problem with roommates, and you don’t want to cause a problem.

Everything else

Are you used to someone waking you up in the morning? Better get used to an alarm clock before it’s too late. Do you need to be reminded to take medications? Think about all the little things in your life that you rely on your parents or someone else for. Try to find ways to manage without them around now.
By this age, we’ve already become pretty self-reliant. But there are always ways we’re used to having people help us that don’t immediately spring to mind. Learning how to take care of ourselves now will save a LOT of trouble down the road.