32 little life skills everyone needs to be a grown-up
Balance a budget
The old advice used to be that everyone needed to know how to balance their chequebook, but thanks to digital banking and credit cards, check registers have gone the way of the woolly mammoth. But that doesn’t mean that budgeting, perhaps the most important household skill there is, should too. In lieu of a physical accounting, make sure you know how to track your income and expenses. You can create your own spreadsheet at home or use an app, but whatever you do, make sure you do it.
For such a short word, it’s amazing how many of us have a hard time saying it. But learning how to graciously but firmly say “no” – without padding it with excuses or white lies – is a critical life skill. If you’re one of those people who automatically says “yes” when someone asks you to do something and feels guilty saying “no,” try saying “I need to think about it” instead. That will give you time to think through your schedule and decide if it’s something you can really do without the pressure of having the person’s pleading eyes boring into you. And remember: Every time you say “yes” to one thing (like working late), you’re also saying “no” to everything else (like the gym, dinner with your family, and a reasonable bedtime).
Boil an egg
Eggs are a cheap source of quality protein, and when you boil them you add portable to their list of wonderful qualities. But boiling the perfect egg can be tricky – too short and you end up with gross gooey whites, too long and you have a bouncy ball that crumbles when you try to bite into it. Listen up adults: It doesn’t have to be hard.
You did something wrong? Congratulations, you’re human! Unfortunately we often treat mistakes as personal failures, which makes hearing about them upsetting (to put it mildly), and when others try to offer criticism it can unleash your inner Hulk. But if you can teach yourself to see mistakes as learning opportunities instead, it makes them – and the inevitable criticism that comes with them – so much easier to handle.
Sew on a button
Clothing quality has been markedly decreasing over the years, and unfortunately, so have sewing skills. This means that not only is a popped button, a hanging hem, or a hole in a sweater inevitable (thank you fast fashion!) but you’re stuck buying a new item or relying on safety pins in weird places instead of doing what should be a simple fix.
Want to party but not wake up with a hangover? Stuff yourself with cake but not gain weight? Take off every Friday but still have a job on Monday? Speed but never get a ticket? Well, we’re sorry to be the ones to break this to you, but this is not the way the world works. (Usually.) We all know this on an intellectual level, and yet we rage against it on an emotional level, living as if we don’t understand the immutable law of consequences. So here you go: When you make a choice to do something, you are also choosing the consequence. It’s a package deal.
Change a tyre
The NRMA and roadside service are a godsend for sure, but it takes only one time of having your car tyre go flat on a mountain road two hours away from the nearest town to make you realise the importance of knowing how to change a tyre. You won’t need to use this skill very often (we hope!) but it’s well worth the time spent learning it for the handful of times you do. After all, mountain roads are fun to drive!
Have a face-to-face conversation
Communicating with another person while looking them in the eye may be humankind’s oldest skill, but in an age of FaceTime, texting and email we’re rapidly losing the talent for robust conversation. Yet nothing shows your interest and commitment more than simply talking with someone in person. Once the conversation is flowing, remember the golden ratio: 51 percent listening, 49 percent talking.
Change a nappy
Babies are tiny, fragile humans that literally have holes in their skulls, so it makes sense that a lot of people are nervous to be left alone with them. But newborns not as breakable as they first seem, and learning a few basics, including changing a nappy, can go a long way toward making you look and feel like a competent caregiver. Even if you don’t have kids, knowing how to change a nappy can still come in handy in case of a babysitting emergency. Thankfully modern nappies make this a pretty painless process.
Pay a bill
Paying your bills is Adulting 101, but it’s not as simple as handing over the money. You need to read through the bill and make sure it’s correct, check your bank balance for sufficient funds, ensure you’re paying it in a timely fashion, use the correct method, and make sure they got it and applied it correctly to your account.
Do a load of laundry
Who doesn’t love the feel of freshly washed sheets? Or the look of white socks? Or the reassurance of clean underwear? No one, that’s who. The importance of learning how to properly use your washer and dryer cannot be overstated.
A good work ethic
There comes a day in every young person’s life when no one is kicking them out of bed in the morning and telling them where to be and when. It’s a milestone moment when you realise it’s all on you to make sure you get to work, do all your work, and not do too much work – and then get ‘er done.
Understand a lease agreement
Your parents probably didn’t make you sign a lease to live at home, but it’s likely that everyone you live with thereafter will have some paperwork waiting for your John Hancock. Unfortunately, leases can be full of legalese and tricky to read, often coming with ironclad provisions that can come back to bite you in the butt later if you don’t understand what you’re signing.
Do your own taxes
Taxes have a bad rep for being hair-pulling, pillow-screaming, papers of frustration. And with good reason. But just because they’re complicated, boring and crazy-making doesn’t give you a pass on doing them. So why not skip the pain and just pay someone else to do them for you? Doing your own taxes, even if it’s just for one year, gives you vital insight into how your own finances work and a better understanding of how the government works.
Cook a meal
Spaghetti counts. So does chicken and rice. Frozen pizza does not (sorry). Learning to make a meal, from selecting a recipe to shopping for ingredients, to cooking to clean-up, is a vital life skill for anyone who likes to eat. (So, everyone.) You don’t have to be a chef or even make something with more than five ingredients, but you’ll be amazed at how empowering and fun it can be to play around in the kitchen.
Write a resume
Getting a job helps decide everything from where you live to what you eat to how happy you are, so pick a good one. Step one to getting your dream job? Crafting a solid resume.
Shop for groceries
He’s making a list and he’s checking it twice – and we’re not talking about Santa, we’re talking about you. Walking into a store without a plan is the fastest way to blow your budget and end up home with three boxes of doughnuts and no milk. Making the effort to plan your meals, write an organised list, and shop from said list will save you money, time and frustration. To make it easier, keep a running list throughout the week, adding items as you go. Some pro shoppers find it helpful to make categories, like produce, dairy and frozen – so you don’t have to zigzag around the store to find all the stuff on your list.
Have good table manners
Chew with your mouth closed. Know what fork is for which dish. Put a cloth napkin on your lap. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t pick up food with your fingers. Don’t slurp your soup. Serve food from communal dishes to your plate, not your mouth. Oh, and did we mention chewing with your mouth closed? Make your mother proud and use your good table manners, whether you’re eating at home, at the local cafe, or a four-star restaurant.
Drill a hole
Basic home repairs like drilling a hole, levelling a picture, unclogging a toilet, fixing a leaky tap, repairing small holes in drywall and other household fixes will make your life simpler and save your hard-earned cash.
Navigating public transport
Cars are great but buses, trains, trams and ferries are a daily necessity for many city dwellers, so knowing how to use them efficiently is a handy skill. Even if you don’t live in an area where mass transit is a thing, knowing how to navigate public transportation can be a lifesaver when you travel, especially in foreign countries.
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