34 Little Life Skills Everyone Needs to Be a Grown-Up
If you’re going to be “adulting,” you’ll need to have mastered this set of essential life skills.
Balance a budget
The old advice used to be that everyone needed to know how to balance their checkbook, but thanks to digital banking and credit cards, it seems that 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 like You Need a Budget, but whatever you do, make sure you do it. Start by checking out these tips for making a budget you can realistically stick to.
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. Follow these easy steps for boiling an egg, and you’ll be set for snack time. Also, make sure you learn these essential recipes you should know by the time you’re 35.
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. Learn these simple DIY clothing repairs, including sewing on a button that has popped off, and never get poked in the chest mid-meeting again. And be sure you’re not making these other messy-looking clothing mistakes.
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. However, you should know how to avoid making those consequences worse than they have to be—like hangovers, for instance.
Change a tire
AAA and roadside service are a godsend for sure, but it takes only one time of having your car tire go flat on a mountain road two hours away from the nearest town to make you realize the importance of knowing how to change a tire. 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! If you need a tire tutorial, the DMV has you covered. Everyone should know these maintenance tips to extend the life of your car.
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 diaper
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 diaper, 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 diaper can still come in handy in case of a babysitting emergency. Thankfully modern diapers make this a pretty painless process. Watch this simple video once and you’ll never be afraid of a baby butt again.
Use your oven
Ovens are one of the best modern conveniences we have, and yet so many of us default to the microwave. But if you’re tired of mushy, unequally warmed food, give your kitchen oven a try. Ovens may look intimidating with all the knobs, buttons, and timers but once you figure it all out, it will become second nature. To ensure a delicious final product, steer clear of these super-common kitchen mistakes.