Adulting 101: Life hacks to know before leaving home

Adulting 101: Life hacks to know before leaving home

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

One evening, my husband placed a paint jar in front of our two teenagers. He asked them how to open it. Both of them looked up at us with wide eyes. After minutes of deliberating, they resigned and shrugged their shoulders. It was at that moment we realized our kids needed a few lessons in real-world adulting. Granted, my son has to help me set up my playlists in Apple music and I can’t play a video game to save my life, but there are some things they need to learn beyond the school walls and Xbox.

How to open random things. It seems pretty basic, but as the aforementioned paint can demonstration showed, knowing how to open random items comes in handy. Show them how to operate a manual can opener, bottle or wine opener and loop opener. And if push comes to shove, there’s always the good old’ screwdriver or knife method (with an abundance of caution).

Balancing bank accounts. When our kids became teenagers, we opened up a youth checking account for each of them. It came with a debit card for them and access to the accounts for us. We were able to show them how to responsibly use the card and how to ensure they don’t overspend. In turn, they also learned to question the necessity of their purchases. Do they really need the new skin on Fortnite? Probably not.

How to deposit a check. When my son received a check for his birthday, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. There’s an amount on a piece of paper that magically turns into money, but how? Even with the advent of Zelle and Venmo, you still may need to be able to deposit funds. We had him flip the check over, endorse (sign) it and taught him how to deposit into his account.

Sales tax. Being military affiliated often means perks when it comes to sales tax. At base and post exchanges, most purchase are tax free. Overseas, most European countries roll their value-added tax (VAT) into the advertised price of the item. In the States, sales tax is added after the cashier has rung up the items, so you actually pay more than what they’re listed for. Ensuring your child knows this little trick can save surprises at the register.
 

The basics of insurance. Insurance is complicated, full of terms and conditions and lots of legal jargon. Breaking down the basics of insurance and spelling it out in layman’s terms is vital. Especially if your kiddo gets into a fender bender when you’re not around or has valuable items stolen from their dorm room. They’ll know who to call and how to work through the claims process.

How to maneuver around the kitchen. Most of the time, I love cooking. So much so, I don’t usually accept the offers of assistance from my son. However, since he’s on the cusp of heading to college, I’ve been letting him assist. With help from his school’s culinary arts program, he now has a fairly solid foundation. By showing them the ropes in the kitchen, they can move easily move beyond the realm of Easy Mac and Top Ramen.

The pitfalls of credit cards. If I could go back and warn my younger self about the financial destruction of credit cards, I would. Since I can’t, I’ve passed that warning on to my teens. When used responsibly, credit cards can be a good thing. They help build your credit score, which is used to secure loans, leases and mortgages in the future. But when you max out your limit purchasing concert tickets and feel the financial constraints when you have to pay back said debt, it’s a hard lesson to learn.

Getting ready for the workplace. Although a lot of job search tools can be found online, teaching your kids how to properly format a resumé and write a cover letter are important skills that will follow them throughout their lives. It’s also a good time to remind them about posting on social media. Many companies and organizations will filter through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms and get a sense of who you are before offering an interview.

How to dance. You don’t need to enroll in ballroom dance lessons but teaching your child a few classic dance moves can prove useful and entertaining at the same time. They may learn they have a knack for it, or they may just file it away for future use. Make it even more fun by showing them your moves and then have them show you theirs. The Floss definitely does not come naturally to this mom.

When you’re going about your day, try to think of the mundane tasks you perform and ask whether or not your teens know how to do them. Even if they know it all (which most will say they do), it can be good to give them hands-on experience before they fly the coop.

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