Settling down is a major life change. Everything that was suddenly shifts to account for new experiences, new people, and new perspectives. With something that big, preparation is absolutely required. Here’s fifteen things every girl should do before she says “I do”.
1. Learn to balance your checkbook. This also helps you to see exactly where your money is going. If you do not write checks (I know I don’t) make sure you are looking at your bank statement carefully. This way, if tight times come, it will be easier to figure out where you can cut an expense or two because you already know where your money is going.
2. Start setting up for retirement. 401K, IRA, something.
3. Know how much debt you are carrying. That means everything, the car note, house note, credit cards, student loans, all of it.
4. Learn a thing or three about the stock market and annuities and how you can make them work for you. This connects to setting up for retirement. Be aware though, money you sink into the stock market or annuities is money you are not going to see again soon.
Recommended Reading: “Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny” by Suze Orman. “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. “The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan to Financial Fitness” by Dave Ramsey.
5. Enjoy your hometown. Be a tourist in your own home town and learn all the things you take for granted living there. Once you’ve settled down, who knows where you are going to be? Collect keepsakes and memorabilia.
6. Go see the Great Wall of China. This is the only man-made object in the world it is said you can see from space. (This actually isn’t true.) It is considered one of the eight wonders of the world. Go see it and marvel at the sheer tenacity that created it. Then take some of that tenacity home with you.
7. Take a road trip with friends. Not only do you get to see things you might not otherwise, like the giant statue of Jesus you can see from the highway or the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota, but you will build memories for years to come with people you love.
8. Go on a cruise. There is no experience quite like it.
9. Create a family photo album. This way, you don’t have to try and bribe Grandma into letting you borrow hers when you want to show off pictures of the people you love.
10.Start a book of family information: names, addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, important dates. My mother has a red leather address book which has survived many, many years of being carted from place to place and it is the repository of family info. Every time someone moved, she got the new address. Babies came along; she added their names and birthdays. She could send birthday cards and Christmas cards all over the place because she knew where people were. It was a great expression of love. Even in this digital age, there is still something truly wonderful about getting an actual card in the mail. It also doesn’t hurt to include your longtime friends in the book too.
11.Take your hobby to the extreme. Collect comic books? Check out San Diego Comic Con. Big into bars? Try the bartending championships. Poker? World Poker Tour. No matter what you are into, there is probably something out there that celebrates it. Take some time and go celebrate it too.
12.Buy yourself a nice piece of good jewelry. Not the dime store stuff you can pick up in any department store or Claire’s, but real jewelry.
13.Read an entire series of books. With the daily grind, it is sometimes hard to find time to read. Add in a husband and a couple of kids, and it only gets harder. Indulge while you still can. I recommend Stephen King’s The Dark Tower set for its echoes of the Arthurian grail quest given an entirely new spin.
14.Write your biography up to this point. That way, after you settle down, you can look back and where you used to be and how things were. Hopefully with a touch of nostalgia and not bitterness toward your new life.
15.Remember you have to love you before you can truly love someone else. Never forget that and do not let yourself get lost in the shuffle, settled down or not.