Getting a mortgage, having kids and paying into a pension are all signs you’ve finally hit adulthood.
But for many people it’s the little things in life that show you’re really a grown-up – like knowing how to bleed a radiator, washing up straight after dinner and “pottering” at the weekend.
A new study of 2,000 people reveals the 50 key things that confirm you have joined the ranks of the proper adults.
Heading the list is the ultimate sign of economic responsibility: having a mortgage. In second place is the fact that your parents no longer make your financial decisions.
Other strong signs in the top 10 include paying into a pension, conducting a weekly food shop (presumably rather than grabbing a bottle of wine and a can of beans to go), writing a Will and having kids.
Budgeting every month, being able to cook an evening meal from scratch, getting hitched and having life insurance all make the top of the poll conducted by Skipton Building Society.
But there are other, less obviously significant events that make people feel they have left their footloose and fancy-free youth behind and become mature members of society.
They include enjoying walking round garden centres, taking trips to the local tip, owning a vacuum cleaner, ironing, wearing a coat on a night out and aiming to get to bed before 11pm.
Interestingly, though, the study shows it’s not until at least the age of 26 that people start to feel like grown-ups – with today’s difficulty in getting a foot on the property ladder and other financial pressures meaning more and more of us feel like ‘children’ for longer than ever before.
Tracy Fletcher, Skipton head of corporate communications, said: "The top 50 list makes for an interesting read. Many of the indicators are things which people need to have mastered – such as looking after the house and garden, being able to cook and taking responsibility when it comes to personal finances.
“But other factors are the key milestones in life – such as buying a house, getting married and having children – things which are happening at a later age due to economic circumstances, job security and so on.
“Owning a house topped the poll as two thirds of Brits felt this was the most significant factor when it comes to ageing and accepting responsibility, and yet it is now harder than ever to step foot on the property ladder."
The study shows Brits only feel grown up when they start planting flowers in the garden, listen to Radio 2, are able to change a light bulb, and own 'best towels' as well as everyday ones.
Nearly six in 10 believe you need to have your finances in order to be classed as a real grown up. And the same percentage thinks it is impossible to feel like a true adults while still relying on handouts from mum and dad.
But 44 per cent think the current economic climate has made it impossible for youngsters to grow up as quickly as they'd like.
Fletcher added: "These findings are a stark reflection of contemporary Britain, and the impact the aftermath of the global financial crisis is having on our most basic expectations.
“The inability to complete rites of passage as basic as standing on their own feet financially, and owning their own home, is effectively infantilising people and leaving us with a generation of who remain teenagers into their late 20s.”
But she said there were “encouraging’ signs in the research, including the fact that “people recognise that things like completing a Will and saving are vital stepping stones to a more prosperous and independent future”.
The full list is:
- Having a mortgage
- Mum and dad no longer make your financial decisions
- Paying into a pension
- Conducting a weekly food shop
- Written a Will
- Having children
- Budgeting every month
- Being able to cook an evening meal from scratch
- Getting married
- Having life insurance
- Having a savings account
- Knowing what terms like 'ISA' and 'tracker' mean
- Watching the news
- Owning a lawn mower
- Doing your own washing
- Taking trips to the local tip
- Planting flowers
- Being able to bleed a radiator
- Having a joint bank account
- Having a view on politics
- Keeping track of interest rates
- Finding a messy house annoying
- Being able to change a light bulb
- Owning a vacuum cleaner
- Holding dinner parties
- Listening to Radio 2
- Enjoying gardening
- Spending weekend just 'pottering'
- Mum starts asking you for advice
- Carrying spare shopping bags just in case
- Like going round garden centres
- Wearing coats on a night out
- Going to bed before 11pm
- Making sure mum and dad are phoned at least once a week
- Classing work as a career rather than a job
- Repairing torn clothing rather than throwing it away
- You iron
- You wash up immediately after eating
- Enjoy cooking
- Buying a Sunday paper
- Always going out with a sensible pair of shoes
- You like receiving gift vouchers
- Work keeps you awake at night
- Filing post
- Having a 'best' crockery set
- Being able to change a car tyre
- Being sensible enough to remove make up off before bedtime
- Being able to follow a receipt
- Owning 'best towels' as well as 'everyday towels'