12 major mistakes all adults make and how to avoid them

Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from each other and avoid the worst ones. These major mistakes are some of the most common, and the most easy to prevent.

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  • Just because you're a grown-up doesn't mean you don't make mistakes. Adulting is hard and there's no manual you can study or class you can ace that will prevent you from taking some wrong turns - literally and figuratively - along your way. However, with a little forethought, you can avoid making some of life's most preventable mistakes.

  • Which of the following deadly sins of adulthood are you guilty of committing?

  • Spending too much money on unnecessary things

  • How often have you bought an expensive, fairly unnecessary item only to experience buyer's remorse afterward? Whether it's a new 60-inch TV or front-row tickets to see your favorite singer, we are all tempted to make expensive purchases from time to time.

  • Do yourself a favor: Before you checkout, wait a couple hours, talk to some friends about it, think about what else you could do with that money. Is there a way you could make the same purchase in a cheaper way, either by shopping around, buying a generic or smaller version or waiting for a sale?

  • Neglecting your five-year plan

  • When Alice asked the Cheshire Cat which path she should take as she wandered through Wonderland, he said, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." She answered, "I don't much care where." To which the Cat replied, "Then it doesn't much matter which way you go." Don't be like Alice. Make a plan, keep it updated and take control of the direction your life is headed.

  • Not pursuing your interests

  • When making career and personal goals, make sure you keep in mind what it is you enjoy doing. It doesn't matter that being an accountant could pay well if you hate dealing with numbers. Live where you're happy and love what you do, and you'll be happy no matter what.

  • Waiting until later to save for retirement

  • Are you waiting until you're earning more money to save for retirement? Stop waiting. CNN Money says, "Ideally, you'd start saving in your 20s, when you first leave school and begin earning paychecks. That's because the sooner you begin saving, the more time your money has to grow. Each year's gains can generate their own gains the next year."

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  • Putting off writing a will

  • No one plans on accidents happening, but the definition of an accident is that it's something unforeseen and unpreventable. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace of mind of having a will written. It doesn't take long and is one of the most responsible things you can do, especially if you have children.

  • Not working out your budget with your spouse

  • If you and your spouse don't work together on your budget, it's far less likely to succeed. Sit down one evening to go over the categories and amounts, find out what you agree on and what you don't. Make a commitment to stick to the budget. Without commitment, there's no point in having a budget.

  • Staying up too late too often

  • We all know sleep is important to helping us be healthy, alert and more productive, but how can you change a bad habit of not sleeping enough? Lifehacker.com suggests, "The best way to get more sleep is to treat it like any other big project; schedule it in and do it." You could also ask yourself these questions, proposed by lifehacker.com: "How much sleep do I get every day? Is sleep a high priority? How often do I sacrifice sleep to get things done?"

  • Neglecting your reading

  • Have you let your book-reading list get too long? Reading isn't just a leisure activity, it can help hone your mental faculties. "With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the process, keeping minds sharper longer," according to research cited by realsimple.com.

  • Getting into too much debt

  • The magic number for debt to income ratio is about 43 percent, so says consumerfinance.gov. This is because most lenders won't approve you for a mortgage with more debt than that. But in reality, it's best to try to keep your debt level way below that. When possible, pay cash and don't max out your credit cards. Get only as much house and car as you really need and can comfortably afford.

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  • Not taking calculated risks

  • Go on that spur-of-the-moment vacation. Invest in a few high-risk stocks. See if you have the knack for owning a rental property. When you can afford it, taking calculated risks can yield big dividends in the long run. Do your due diligence, sleep on it, then just do it. Even if your endeavor fails, you'll know what to do better next time.

  • Skipping higher education

  • Going straight into the workforce to start your career sooner might have sounded like a good idea in high school, but it can drastically limit your advancement opportunities when you get older. Luckily, it's never too late to go back to school. Online options are making a college education possible for thousands of people nationwide and worldwide.

  • Undervaluing exercise

  • This mistake is often paired with the overconsumption of sweets or over indulging in Netflix. Without exercise and nutrition, you won't be able to enjoy a lot of what's great about adulthood. Get in a few minutes of activity per day and you'll not only be healthier, you'll feel better about yourself, too.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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