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27 Life Skills For Adults to Learn Before You Move Out

When I moved into my first apartment, I had no real cleaning supplies (or plans to clean), no established budget, and a credit card in each hand. I felt like the first adult thing to do was to have friends over for a nice dinner.

So I pan-seared steaks to a dry, shriveled crisp, and served them up with boxed mashed potatoes, canned corn, and slice-and-bake cookies. No butter or seasoning anywhere…not even salt or pepper.

My poor, poor friends. When it came to life skills for adults, I had zero.

Before you move out on your own, or before you send your kids out to live on their own as young adults, there is a set of basic life skills young people need to have under their belt.

Learn them from your parents or the internet. But for heaven’s sake, learn these essential life skills if you want a safer, cheaper, smarter, smoother transition to adulthood.

Homemaking Life Skills For Adults

Some of the most glaring essential life skills needed by young adults involve their living space. Mastering grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning skills will equip them with an optimal living environment within which they can conduct daily life.

Master Grocery Shopping

Learning proper grocery shopping will make the single biggest impact on your food budget and a huge difference on your overall budget. You’ll want a plan for keeping a running list of what you need, meal planning, and comparing prices at the grocery store.

Master Cooking Meals

Pinterest and other social media platforms are jam-packed with recipes with step-by-step tutorials that require only basic skills in the kitchen. Try to master at least five simple recipes, like spaghetti, tacos, or meatloaf.

Want to keep cooking meals as simple as possible? Then download our free collection of 40 stupid easy recipes, all with minimal ingredients and prep work.

Learn How to Do Your Laundry

This is one of those practical skills that will last you a lifetime. Learn how to read care instructions on clothing labels, separate clothes appropriately, and set correct washer/dryer settings.

Learn How to Keep Your Living Space Clean

Make a plan for dusting your living space, wiping down surfaces, vacuuming, washing dishes, and throwing away old food. Download our weekly cleaning plan to keep things simple and manageable, by spacing out cleaning to just one or two tasks a day.

Master Simple Sewing

This is one of the basic life skills that will save you trips to a tailor and prolong the life of your favorite clothes! You can either learn how to sew on a button, mend a hole, or hem your pants now, or you can kick yourself for paying someone to complete such a simple task later.

Educate Yourself on First Aid

Not especially homemakey, but you’ll want to learn how to wash and bandage a cut, when to apply ice versus heat, and how to care for minor burns.

You also never know when you’ll need to use CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. Learning these essential life skills now will help you avoid panicky and/or freezing in an emergency.

Home Maintenance Life Skills For Adults

While it’s important to learn homemaking skills, it’s equally important to remember that your living space will require maintenance and even occasional repair. These basic life skills will help ensure home repairs don’t cost you unnecessary time, stress, or money.

Learn How to Set Up Utilities

This is one of those essential life skills you’ll be tempted to pass over to your mom, but chances are good that you’ll move lots as an adult. And every time you move, you’ll need to set up utilities in your new home.

Learn how to find who services your home, contact them before your move, and plan to pay a deposit.

Master Basic Home Maintenance

You don’t have to know how to patch a roof. (Although that would be fantastic!)

But changing lightbulbs, fixing a running toilet, and knowing what to do in the event you lose power, are all basic life skills that you’ll no doubt need and use often.

Learn How to Handle Basic Home Repairs

As long as you’re acquiring valuable life skills in home maintenance, consider extending your list of life skills to basic home repairs!

You’ll want to learn how to tighten loose screws on cabinets and furniture, and how to read the troubleshooting section of the refrigerator manual to repair the ice machine. All young adults should strive to become comfortable with a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and other basic tools.

Money Life Skills For Adults

Some of the most important life skills lie in budgeting, paying bills, and preparing financially for the future. Having a solid financial plan in place will ensure not only a healthy bank account but also the ability to more easily set your mental health at ease.

Learn How to Create (and Follow!) a Budget

One of the most important life skills, one that will either make or break your ability to effectively navigate daily life, is to master money management skills through the use of a budget. And I don’t mean understanding the basics of a budget or completing an example budget.

I mean, write down your actual income and expenses. Don’t forget to include rent, utilities, internet, phone, loans, credit cards, insurance, gym memberships, and any other monthly charges, as well as gas, groceries, toiletries, household items, pet supplies, entertainment, and savings.

Subtract your expenses from your income, and have a healthy expectation of, and plan for, what’s left. Dave Ramsey has some outstanding resources for building a healthy budget.

Learn How to Pay Your Bills (and On Time!)

It’s a terrible surprise to forget to pay a bill and incur obscene late charges, or to have three large bills show up at once. So write down due dates and amounts in one place, and set a regular day/time to sit down and pay those bills.

This is one of those money management skills that will save your finances and your mental health!

Acquaint Yourself With the Dangers of Credit Cards

My mom, like Bobby Boucher’s, taught me that everything was the devil, including credit cards. One year and $15,000 later, I realized I should have listened to my momma.

Sure, lots of cards come with cash back and other perks, but those perks are only useful if you pay your full balance every month. Any financial adviser you talk to will tell you the perks aren’t worth the risks.

Practice Saving Money

Unexpected car repairs don’t seem so stomach-turning and life-altering when you have healthy savings to fall back on. That’s why learning to save money (and starting now) is one of the most important life skills to help protect your mental health from the stressors of daily life.

Set aside money (ideally 10-20% of your income) every month into a savings account. And set it aside before you pay bills or go out to eat with friends. Future-you will thank you.

Learn How to Invest For Retirement

This is one of those basic life skills that’s relatively new. While our grandparents may be enjoying Social Security, those benefits will be long gone before we retire.

And time is on your side if you start investing at a young age. For example, if you were to start investing $100 every month at the age of 18, and you earned an average return of 8% per year, your investment would grow to nearly $600,000 by your 65th birthday.

Sock away $200 per month, and you could retire a multi-millionaire. So start now!

Know Your Insurance Needs

This includes health, car, renters, and life insurance. You’ll need to balance what premium you can afford to pay now against what you could afford to pay in the case of an ER visit, car accident, or burglary.

Learn How to Read a Lease and Other Legal Documents

This critical thinking skill won’t seem important until you move out of your apartment and are fined $500 for painting a wall. Knowing what you’re signing your name to now, will save you money and headaches in the future.

Car Maintenance Life Skills For Adults

Most young people either own a car or plan to own a car in the future. Developing valuable life skills to both maintain and repair your car can save you loads of money in the real world.

Master Basic Car Maintenance

If you own a car, or plan to own one in the future, car maintenance should be near the top of your list of essential life skills. Learn how to fill your wiper fluid, replace windshield wipers and headlights, and change your oil, and how often to do those things.

Learn How to Change a Flat Tire

Because roadside assistance can get expensive, and will take time to get to you. Ask me how I know.

Learn How to Jumpstart a Car

For the same reasons as above, this is one of those valuable life skills you need to learn before the need for it actually arises.

Research How to Get Your Car Repaired

If you own a car at all, part of your adult life is guaranteed to include major car repairs. For those things you can’t repair yourself, learn what shops do what work, and how to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Learn How to Buy a Car

This is one of those practical skills you won’t need often, but when you do, you’ll save yourself from overpaying or buying a lemon. (Again, ask me how I know.)

Learn where to shop, how to compare prices, and how to run a CARFAX on used cars.

Interpersonal Life Skills For Adults

No list of life skills for adults would be complete without including the mental, emotional, and social skills it takes for young people to not only survive young adulthood, but truly thrive in their adult life. As a young adult, it is essential to develop emotional and communication skills to navigate every aspect of life more effectively.

Cultivate and Practice Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a state of emotional health that involves knowing who you are, including your thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It also involves learning to recognize those values in other people and understand how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them.

Developing emotional intelligence is vital for young adults to be able to build relationships and social understanding. It allows you to connect with others on a deeper level and to more effectively work together.

Master Emotional Regulation

This is the ability to manage and express your emotions in healthy ways. It involves understanding and coping with feelings like anger, sadness, and joy, which can significantly impact both your emotional health and overall mental health.

Practice Active Listening

More than just hearing, active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said.

Practice putting down your phone, social media, and other distractions, and engaging fully in the conversation. This skill is crucial for effective communication.

Master Effective Communication

Speaking of effective communication, mastering communication skills requires fine-tuning both your verbal and nonverbal communication. Learn to articulate your thoughts clearly and to understand and use nonverbal communication cues such as body language.

Learn How to Resolve Conflicts

Mastering the communication skills required to resolve disagreements in a rational, peaceful way will be important in both your personal and professional life. These valuable life skills involve negotiation, understanding different perspectives, and seeking a mutually beneficial outcome.

Sharpen Your Mental Health Through Mindfulness

Practices such as mindfulness can help you maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It’s a way to stay grounded and centered, and to keep your mental health in tip-top shape.

These are some of the most important life skills for ensuring improved relationships, better mental health and personal growth, and greater success in personal and professional endeavors.

So don’t cook dry steaks for your friends. Don’t rack up $15,000 in credit card debt.

Don’t leave your car horn stuck on for four hours in the middle of the night because you don’t know how to disconnect the battery. (That made me super popular with my neighbors!)

You are totally capable of moving out on your own! You just need a few key life skills for adults, in the areas of homemaking, home maintenance, money, and car maintenance. So go out there and show us whatcha got!

P.S. Miss those helpful free downloads in the post? No worries! Nab ’em here!

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Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Did school prepare you for life? Didn’t your parents teach you anything? Did you ask anyone for advice?


Tuesday 5th of April 2022

I feel as if school prepared me by teaching me science, algebra, etc. as well as discipline and hard work. My parents taught me discipline and responsibility, to know God, and to be a kind and overall good person. While these are all important contributions, and probably the most important, I could have also used more practical tips to add windshield wiper fluid to my car or how to make 4-5 meals. And while I currently turn to the internet for those tips, I was in college at a time that you weren't conditioned to turn to the internet for every question - it was still a somewhat novel concept - so I tried to pick up tips from friends and coworkers where I lived.