Let’s face it: A lot of what we learn in school is completely useless when we’re adults.
Chances are you’ve never had to do long division or use the Pythagorean Theorem. Nor has anyone recently asked you to recite Shakespeare or make a potato battery.
Most of us entered the “adult” world with little to no knowledge of how to do taxes, manage our money, or even cook a homemade meal. (Ramen noodles, anyone?)
It’s too late to go back to school, but it’s never too late to learn life hacks that will help you save time and money. Keep reading for some valuable adulting skills you didn’t learn (but should have learned) in high school.
1. Understanding Taxes
When are taxes due? What happens if you don’t pay them on time? Can you get a 1099 extension? Do you even know what a 1099 form is (or why you’d need it)?
You probably took a business or accounting class in school, but those are designed to teach you about the business world — not personal money management. You likely learned nothing about which taxes come out of your paycheck or how to start your own company and become self-employed.
If your knowledge of paying taxes is somewhat lacking, be sure to brush up on the basics of filing a tax return. You don’t want to pay more than you owe or (even worse) underpay and wind up getting audited down the road!
2. Take Control of Your Financial Future
A big mistake many young people make is making impulsive purchases on credit cards. They may have friends who want to party every weekend, or they might be unable to resist those late-night shopping sessions on Amazon.
The result? You graduate college with mounds of credit card debt — not to mention an average of $30,000 in student loans. Use a student loan calculator to help you determine how long it may take to pay them off given a specific payment each month
You may have friends and family members with good intentions, but ultimately it is up to you to make decisions about your financial future. Your Grandma Susie might want you to buy a house, but can you actually afford it? Your buddies might insist you take a Spring Break ski trip with them, but what does your bank account say?
If you want to save time and money as an adult, you have to learn how to say “no.” There’s also no excuse not to study up on personal finance best practices so you understand how to best manage your money.
3. Figure Out Where Your Money Goes
Before you took your job, you (hopefully) sat down and wrote out a basic budget to ensure you’d earn enough to cover your bills. If you keep coming up short at the end of the month, it’s time to reevaluate exactly where all your money is going.
More often than not, it’s the little purchases that add up over time. Five bucks for a Starbucks coffee every day may not seem like much. But multiply it over the course of weeks and months, and you’ll realize you’re spending $150 a month (or a staggering $1800 a year) on those lattes!
Part of adulting is creating a budget to see where you can cut back and actually save each month, rather than living paycheck to paycheck. It will also help you work towards your long-term goals.
For example, do you have the goal of buying your own home? How will you save for the downpayment? If you move into an apartment that’s $100 less than your current rent, you can save $6,000 in the next five years.
4. Learn Basic Home & Car Maintenance Skills
You might have learned to recite the US presidents in order, but do you know how to change a flat tire on your car?
One of the best ways to save time and money is to master as many DIY skills as possible. At the very least, you should know how to:
- Change a tire
- Change the oil
- Jumpstart your car
- Replace a lighting fixture
- Clean the garbage disposal
- Fix a leaky faucet
- Unclog a drain
- Replace air filters
- Patch a hole in the wall
- Shut off the main water supply
In addition to saving time and money, you’ll also feel more capable (and less panicked) if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
5. Stash Away Emergency Savings
Speaking of emergencies, do you regularly set aside money into an “emergency fund?”
If you don’t, the time to start was yesterday. The sad reality is that 40% of Americans do not have enough extra cash on hand to cover a $400 emergency.
Don’t be part of this statistic. Even if your salary isn’t amazing, set aside whatever you can into an emergency expense account. Even if you can only put away $10 a week, you’ll have over $500 saved by the end of the year.
Bonus tip: Put these funds into a high-interest savings account, money market account, or certificate of deposit. You’ll earn more in interest and be less inclined to dip into your savings for frivolous reasons.
6. Learn How to Cook
You don’t have to sign up for Master Chef, but you can save time and a lot of money by learning some basic skills in the kitchen.
Cooking your own meals is almost always cheaper than eating in a restaurant. It’s also an investment in your health, as you have complete control over the ingredients going into your food.
If you’ve been relying on frozen dinners or takeout meals for most of your diet, it’s time to step it up. Watch some YouTube videos about the basics of meal prep and cooking. Signing up for a meal kit delivery service is another terrific way to save time and money (and eat better too).
Save Time & Money With These Essential Adulting Skills
Perhaps someday they’ll revamp the school system and include some of these important life skills in the curriculum.
In the meantime, we have useful adulting hacks like the ones listed above to help you save time and money. Bookmark this list for reference and share it with your friends who also need a quick Adulting 101 course.
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