Despite the years we spend in school, there are plenty of us who are ill-equipped for adulthood. Just watch the bill come at the end of a group dinner and you’ll see well-educated adults struggling with what should be simple math. There are several topics that are crucial to surviving in the “real world,” but aren’t taught in school. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Budgeting and living frugally
Learning to live within your means is a skill that can be used for life. Avoiding overspending, limiting credit card usage to emergencies only, and setting aside money for savings and retirement is beneficial now and in the long-term. However, eight out of ten Americans are in debt, so it’s obvious that most of us could use a lesson on budgeting. A great blog on the subject is MrMoneyMustache.com written by a thirtysomething retiree who lives what he calls a “Badass life of leisure.”
As April comes around each year, a moan can be heard from the masses in America. A course on how to do taxes would be immensely useful for the many people who struggle with this. It would save money otherwise spent on an accountant or on programs like TurboTax. Electronic filing forms make it easier, but read through a how-to blog so you really know what to do during tax season.
Not many people enjoy housework. But why not? For the minority who enjoy it, it may because they approach it with a different mindset. If you learn how to clean and maintain your home, it’s not difficult and most appliances make the tasks quick and light. Homemaker-by-choice Cheryl Mendelson, author of Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, teaches practical lessons about housework while also offering the view that keeping a home can be a source of pride rather than a chore.
Home & car repair
Despite the frequency of clogged pipes and flat tires, not many schools teach practical lessons on fixing these problems. Angie’s List makes outsourcing your home and car repairs easy, but it can drain your budget especially on tasks you could’ve done yourself. If you don’t have a handy family member to teach you, you may have someone in your neighborhood. Reach out to him or her for your next repair and turn it into an on-the-job lesson for yourself. Or better yet, have him give you advice and then try fixing it yourself. If it doesn’t work out, the professional isn’t far away.
Many people want to save money on going out to eat, but over the last century, Americans have increasingly spent more of their budgets on food they didn’t prepare at home. So although the cost of food is decreasing in relation to rising income, people are spending more on dining out. But when your home cooking menu is limited to only spaghetti, soup, or even worse – ramen – learning a few staple dishes can go a long way. The simplest way is to just pick up a recipe book and get started.
Job hunting is a learned skill that almost everyone must use at some point. Identifying your strengths and transferable skills, creating an impressive resume, contacting potential employers, interviewing, and following up post-interview are all crucial to a successful job search. The book What Color is Your Parachute? is “the world’s most popular job-search book” first published in 1970 and revised every year since 1975. It’s every job seeker’s must-have.
First Aid and CPR
“Is there a doctor here?” Many minor emergencies can be fixed or at least temporarily better until professional help arrives with the thanks of someone well-versed in first aid. Knowing what to do when someone is choking, burned or cut is a life-saving skill more of us should learn. Some local fire departments or police stations offer first aid and CPR courses for free.
Some people learn this because they are forced to, but it would be ideal to learn this before you really needed it. And in the age of distractions, it’s more important than ever to get a hold on time wasters like facebook and repeatedly checking emails. Check out this post on time management to learn how to manage your time wisely.
It may be some time until school curricula integrates practical life skills, but you can teach yourself these valuable lessons