1. Walking into your own apartment, tossing your mail on the table to sort through later, and putting your keys in the key bowl by the door.
2. Going through your bills one by one and paying them off, even if it means you don’t have a ton of spending money that month, because you love the feeling of being able to sleep well at night with every item checked off the list.
3. Being able to invite your friends over whenever you want for dinner or drinks, and being able to entertain people exactly the way you like to.
4. Finally making all the DIY stuff you saw on Pinterest that you’ve been dying to try for a long time.
5. Going to the store and seeing a dessert that looks awesome, and being like, “Oh, shit, I can totally buy this if I want to,” and then totally buying it.
6. Ordering a pizza whenever the mood strikes you.
7. Being able to take the pressure, financially or otherwise, off of your parents — and even offering something in return for all that they did for you.
8. Having your parents help you with something because they really want to, not because you need them to or are guilting them into it.
9. Making or buying nice gifts for everyone, and giving them out around Christmastime.
10. Being able to meet up with friends for after-work happy hours and splitting a couple of appetizers with everyone.
11. Knowing more clearly what you’re looking for in a relationship, and not wasting time with the people who aren’t interested in giving you the things you want or treating you well.
12. Planning ahead for your nights out so that you can make the most of the evening without going over your budget (because, yes, you have a budget).
13. Saving up for something and feeling absolutely no guilt when you finally go to buy it, because you know that you deserve it and worked hard to earn it.
14. Watching your paychecks appear in your bank account every two weeks or month, and knowing that you really contributed something to get that money.
15. Paying taxes, and finally feeling like a real citizen who is helping pay for the firefighters, and the policemen, and roads we drive on. (Even though you wish you could decide a little more how your tax money is spent.)
16. Organizing and rearranging things just the way you like them.
17. Being the one to offer to pay for things every now and again.
18. Becoming comfortable with the kind of music you listen to, because you know that trying to impress people with your fancy or cool tastes is completely fruitless and only ends up making you unhappy.
19. Not living at the constant risk of complete financial ruin, and having at least a little bit of savings to fall back on.
20. Independence that allows you to not have to stay in any kind of relationship — romantic, familial, or otherwise — which is unhealthy, purely for the sake of financial security.
21. Deciding that you want to go see someone, even if they are several hours’ drive away, and making the time and effort to go do it.
22. Learning how to cook in your own kitchen, with all of the ingredients that you really like.
23. Coming home at the end of a long day of work and feeling the supreme comfort that comes from being in your own space, surrounded by the things that you like, with total control over your plans. Curling up in the nest that you’ve spent a while feathering, doing little activities like finally sorting that mail or making a little meal, and enjoying the quiet pleasures of responsibility.