21 Things to Do When You Turn 21 (By a 21 Year Old)

things to do when you turn 21

Congratulations on becoming a full grown adult! Want some practical life advice? Here are 21 things to do when you turn 21!

This age comes with a ton of perks. You’ve basically just unlocked everything that life has to offer.

Most 21 year olds will use this knowledge to party hard and enjoy life until their real responsibilities hit them.

If that’s you, no problem! It’s your life at the end of the day.

Hopefully after reading this, you’ll truly understand what values are actually important as a 21 year old.

Let’s dive in!

Have a Drink

The most obvious thing you can legally do at 21 is drink alcohol.

I don’t recommend it, but it doesn’t hurt to just try it (since you totally haven’t had alcohol yet 😉).

If you are new to drinking though, here are 5 things you should know about alcohol before taking your first sip.

Hit the Casino When You Turn 21

Since you can legally gamble, you might find some fun at a local casino.

Better yet… take a group of friends and hit the Vegas strip for a whole weekend of good times.

Just remember not to gamble more than you can afford to lose!

Save 50% Of Your Income

As a challenge for this year and the next, try to save 50% or more of what you earn.

This will help you develop better financial habits as you get older. Learning to live more frugally is always advantageous as a young adult.

Open a savings account and automatically transfer money into it after every paycheck.

Open a Second Credit Card

Opening a credit card is one of the best things to do when you turn 21.

If you already opened one at 18 because somebody told you to start building your credit, now’s a good time to get one more.

Find a credit card that gives you cash back at places you normally shop at.

Put a little bit of money on the card and pay it off in full every month.

Go Clubbing

If you’ve always wanted to experience what a real party feels like, go clubbing for your 21st birthday.

You can drink, dance, show off your legal ID, and party with other young people.

Clubbing can be super fun, just don’t make it a habit where you go all the time.

Practice Independence

You’re about to leave college (or maybe you already have) and life is only going to give you more responsibilities.

Get out of your comfort zone, don’t ask people around you for help, and make things work with what you’ve got.

The best part about practicing independence at 21 is that you’ll learn so much about yourself that you didn’t even know.

Get a Gym Membership

Your motivation to stay fit could be dwindling as you get older.

Keep yourself healthy and get a gym membership. The key is to keep working out. If you’d rather do that at home, that’s up to you!

The point is, building a habit of working out now will only benefit you more in the future.

Invest in the Stock Market

There’s way too much information going around about investing nowadays.

However, investing is one of the most crucial things to do when you turn 21! The earlier, the better.

It’s a great way to start growing your wealth and save up for retirement. If you are currently employed, consider opening up a Roth IRA.

It’s essentially an investing account where you won’t have to pay taxes on the money you make when you sell your stocks in the future.

If you know absolutely nothing about investing, start learning now. I recommend using the Acorns app for investing because it invests your money for you without having to do any research into stocks.

Related Post: How to Get Started Investing in the Stock Market for Beginners

Invest in Yourself

We all know how stressful the age of 21 can be.

Your mental, physical, and social health is extremely important to your well-being. When just 1 of these 3 components are damaged, it can mess up the rest.

Don’t be afraid to spend money, and more importantly, time one taking care of yourself.

Here are a few ways to invest in yourself:

  • Have a proper skin care routine
  • Write your thoughts in a journal
  • Get a monthly massage
  • Exercise
  • Make an effort to spend time with friends
  • Expand your knowledge (keep learning new things)

These are all excellent ways to start bettering yourself.

Learn Life’s Basics

Sadly, high school or college doesn’t teach you these important things in life:

  • Finance
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Relationships
  • Cooking
  • Etc

It is your duty, as a 21 year old, to learn about these things on your own. Trust me, you’ll be so happy you did.

Most new adults won’t take action and do this, so you’ll be ahead of everyone else if you learn these by yourself.

Resources such as books, Youtube, and even talking to other adults is a great way to get started in learning.

Always learn… always educate yourself. Even past college.


Traveling is something you have to do if you have the resources and time at a young age.

Experiences like these are always worth the cost, even if you’re backpacking and crashing on people’s couches.

Understand different cultures, try new foods, learn a country’s history, and your eyes will open up even wider.

It will only give you more things to talk about with new people and a greater knowledge of the world.

Build Good Habits

The most valuable piece of advice that will help you as a 21 year old is to build good habits for yourself!

This can help you get out of your deepest darkest points in life. Plus, it will help prevent those dark times in the future.

It only takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Make sure it’s a good one and stay consistent with it for the rest of your life.

Building better habits is much easier when you’re young. Don’t wait until you’re already down bad to try picking yourself back up.

Here are a few good habits to build at 21:

  • Wake up at the same time everyday
  • Workout and eat healthy
  • Drink a glass of water right after you wake up
  • Write down your daily schedule every night before
  • Have a morning and night routine

There will always be a habit in your life that you can improve on. The same methods work for cutting out bad habits as well!

Work a Full-Time Job

Whether it’s a job or a business, getting into the groove of full-time work will open your eyes to working hard in the real world.

People can be tough to deal with, money is hard to manage, and daily responsibilities can be stressful.

However, working can help you meet new friends, build a good work ethic, and develop a routine for your lifestyle!

Get some of that hands-on experience at an early age.

Start a Side Hustle

Starting a side hustle is one of those things to do when you turn 21 because it could turn into something more.

When you’re young, starting a small business is a lot less risky. It can also help boost your income on top of a traditional job.

Plus, as your side hustle grows, it can eventually replace that traditional job.

If you’ve always had a dream to be your own boss (with whatever business idea that may be), now is not the time to give up on it!

Keep Making New Friends

Unfortunately, your circle of friends only grows smaller and smaller as you get older.

However, that’s because most people don’t do anything about it! Put in the effort to meet new people often and develop long lasting relationships.

Once you leave college, the way you find friends is based on your hobbies and daily routine. Meet the people that are around you often!

Related Post: How to Make New Friends in College

Visit Family Often

Unless your parents are absolute psychopaths, your family probably cares very much about you.

But do they know how much you care about them? Make sure they know by visiting often, having fun conversations, and asking questions about their life.

Your family is only getting older. Make sure you take advantage of those opportunities while you still have them.

Start Eating More Healthy

As a college student, it’s hard to keep a solid diet and follow it consistently.

Since you’re about to leave those years behind, now would be a great time to start learning about what foods are good for you.

Fun Fact: You can eat healthy and still be on a budget.

It requires effort and some cooking skills, but it will all benefit you in the end anyways!

Find a New Hobby

Your journey to learning about what you do and don’t like is only getting started.

Keep putting yourself out there and try new hobbies regularly. 

You never know… one of those hobbies could turn into a career one day!

Set Goals and Have Plans

“A goal without a plan is just a dream.”

Get used to writing down everything you intend to do, whether that’s today, next week, or in 5 years.

Always set goals for yourself to continue moving forward. On top of that, have a plan for each goal that goes into more detail on what you’re actually going to do.

This is how you improve yourself as an adult. If you build a habit of doing this early on, you’ll always stay on the right track.

Surround Yourself With Good People

One of the most crucial things to do when you turn 21 is to stick around positive people.

“You are who your friends are.” – This couldn’t be more true!

If you hang around kids who drink, smoke, and slack off in school… you’ll probably end up doing the same thing.

If you hang around positive, ambitious, well-connected people… you’ll develop those healthy qualities too!

There are people out there that you vibe with and that are good people, even if you haven’t found them yet.

Stay Positive

If you have this stuck feeling where you put effort into things, but you don’t see results, hang in there!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep putting in that effort.

Switch your mentality into thinking about long term growth instead of smaller, short term spurts of happiness.

Practice gratitude and your life will suddenly seem much better than you previously thought!


Hopefully these 21 ideas gave you a bit of life advice for what you should be doing when you turn 21. Happy 21st birthday (if that’s what you’re celebrating)!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions leave them down below. Thanks for reading!

  1. Thanks so much for this list. I’m mentoring persons that are 21 and these are items I’d like to talk with them about. The fact that you published this list is a testament to their importance. Thanks again.

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