What life skills do you need to master by 18, so that life won't hand you your ass?

I like that!

Believing that you are too good for a minimum or near-minimum wage job and bringing that attitude to work is only going to bite you in the ass. Until you get experience, that is the only kind of job available to you. Make the best of it and work on improving and acquiring new skills. The alternative is to be stuck in minimum wage jobs for the rest of your life because that will continue to be all that is available to you.

Oh, and if you’ve got something important going on the next day like work or an interview or classes, lay off the booze. Getting plastered isn’t really as great as most teens think. Trying to function in the real world while dealing with a hangover is even less great.

Two apparently contradictory ones.

  • To FOLLOW those rules which make sense; exist to enforce safety, fairness, efficiency, security, or courtesy; or for which the penalties for non-compliance are severe.

  • For all other rules, assume that the rules don’t apply to you until evidence proves otherwise.

Most of the “rules” in the second category are really tradition, bureaucracy, religion, or jingoism. These should be followed (or ignored) by deliberate choice, not blindly.

Alternate way of phrasing the same thing: “Learn to constantly evaluate your own actions and motivations–especially with regard to things that you do “automatically”–and be willing to change those you don’t like.”

Just wanted to highlight this. And when the older person tells you are wrong about something, it’s usually because they’ve done it themselves and wish they’d listened to somebody telling them not to do it.

Two simple money rules that will get you by until you figure more out:

  1. Don’t spend more than you make (already said, I know, but worth repeating).
  2. Pay the rent first. Seriously. Bills can be juggled and put off if absolutely necessary, food can be optional, but pay the damned rent. I’ve been broke, I’ve been poor, and I’ve been hungry, but I’ve never been homeless.

Hey, I remembered another.

Learn how to say no.

The guys want to go out for beers but you have an early morning class and a mid-term to study for? And you really don’t like those guys in the first place?

Your best friend wants you to loan her $100 because your scholarship refund check just came in and she’s broke? And that $100 is supposed to go to your books?

A guy you barely know has invited you to his dorm room? And there’s something skeevy about him?

A classmates wants to copy your homework? And the prof explicitly stated that assignments have to be done independently?

Sometimes saying yes will solidify a friendship or make you more popular. But a lot of times, you will wish you had just say no. Learn how to listen that little voice and be brave against peer pressure.

Yeah, this is one I’ve only recently learned. It’s no fun trying to clean up a week’s worth of dishes, laundry, towels, kitchen and bathroom use in the 20 minutes it takes a friend to drive over.
And then have nothing but Pop-tarts, ice cream, cereal, and beer to offer them.

  • How to keep yourself smelling sweet. Read any forum thread about ‘unpleasant’ or ‘creepy’ people to see why.
  • That the world doesn’t owe you anything.

Not necessary, but I can’t imagine how people live without them:

  • Use a computer without relying on somebody else.
  • Feel comfortable using basic tools.


  • Know about hair traps in the shower, and how failure to empty them can result in flooding both the bathroom and the room of the poor person below. :smack: Yeah, I wrecked somebody else’s day…


oof! Bitter much?

Credit’s been covered to death.

  1. Never burn bridges. Ever. That means not talking bad about coworkers, not peeing in their wheaties career wise, nor taking pleasure at other’s failures. Sooner or later, you’ll have it done to you, or karmic repercussions will even things out…or it won’t:
  2. Business knows no justice. Stupid things happen. Stupid people get promoted. Business thrives DESPITE stupidity. Don’t take it personal. Realize what you do is NOT irreplaceable. If you say fuckoff and walk, the company won’t notice.
  3. If you decide to take a fuckoff and walk out the door. Bite-your-tongue. Go home, have a beer, give it a weekend and see if you still feel the same way. Chances are you won’t…but if you opened our mouth in anger, well, see #1.

The above allows you to have a little perspective. If the job well and truly sucks, wouldn’t you rather look for another job while employed?

My daughter was hired in November of last year as full-time temporary help. After a couple of weeks, she was asked to become full-time permanent, with a bit of a promotion and a raise. She asked me why she was promoted and retained so quickly. I told her that it’s because she shows up on time, sober, ready to work, and willing to work. That’s enough to make an employer ready to move her from temp to permanent. She likes to go out with her friends, but she doesn’t drink and she makes sure she gets enough rest to be able meet her obligations the following day.

She is quite smart, but I think that her reliability counts the most.

I wish I’d learned earlier that the value brand is almost always just as good as the name-brand product.

Also, get as much education as you think you’ll need or want sooner rather than later, because going back is harder than most people think. I can’t tell you how many guys I know who “took a year off” from college and ended up spending the next 5-10 in retail.

(My first post!)

One more a previous post reminded me of:

Don’t ever quit a job without another one already lined up.

–It’s been said, but I’ll say it again–money management. How much money you have depends not just on how much you make, but on how much you keep.

–Evaluating information. Whether it’s a story in the newspaper or a sales pitch or just an everyday conversation, it’s crucial to be able to process information critically. It seems obvious, but it’s a very uncommon skill.

–Thinking things through. Looking past the immediate consequences of a decision and seeing all the possible outcomes is a skill that has to be learned just like any other.

More practical matters:

–Basic organizational skills. While some people are more inclined to be organized than others, no one does it by instinct–you have to learn how to do it. Some practical methods of keeping up with things like bills, phone numbers, and appointments will go a long way.

–Basic computer skills. Being able to type is right up there with reading and writing these days, and people who have even the most basic grasp of the internet have a big advantage over people who don’t.

–Writing. I’m amazed by how many people are unable to write a complete sentence, much less a coherent paragraph. A job application is usually the first thing an employer sees, so your “first impression” is long gone by the time he sees you in person.

I would add to this: how to drive stick. You don’t even have to drive stick flawlessly, but enough to drive to a hospital. And if you learn, and then live your entire life without ever having to drive to a hospital, you’re still ahead of the game.

One I’m still iffy about: Phoning up to complain to a large corporation in such a way that the problem is actually resolved and you don’t lose your temper.

My father is brilliant at this- mostly by being incredibly polite and insisting on speaking to the supervisor/manager of everyone he speaks to…and then continuing to ask for their managers until he gets the result he wants. Sadly, I take after my mother and either end up in tears with frustration or utterly taken in by their “it wasn’t our fault” line.

Actually, phoning up anyone for anything official or important requires learning some skills.

People need to learning that the magical bleach fairy is not the one who keeps the toilet clean, and that the dusting pixie doesn’t exist.

Don’t piss people off unless you’re absolutely positive that it can’t come back and bite you one the ass- which in practice amounts to “don’t piss people off”.

You got to know when to hold em, Know when to fold em
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table.
There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.

Money Management. I know it’s been done to death in this thread, but it’s so damned important! “Pay yourself first,” “live within your means,” “a penny saved is a penny earned,” etc. Just go home from the store and give yourself 24 hours to ponder that next credit card purchase.

I occasionally get some benefit by having imaginary conversations with the 60-year-old version of me and trying to figure out what he’d thank me for doing. The conversation generally ends up being about health and money matters. (He’s pretty happy that despite all my other financial screwups, I’ve at least maxxed out my 401K).

Excellent responses. I’ll add: being able to take responsibility for one’s mistakes. The satisfaction in owning up to something is worth whatever penalty paid for making the mistake.

I agree with this except for the “pay yourself first” thing. Pay your creditors first. I have a friend who pays himself first and is always late on his other payments. Once you’re living within your means, you can pay yourself at the same time you pay everyone else.

In addition to everything else in here, know how to lose. Gracefully. Sometimes you do everything right, and you still won’t get what you were efter. Don’t make a habit of losing, and figure what you could do better next time, but there will be times when you’ve just got to say, “Uncle” and move on.

And know how to take a compliment.

It’s easy: smile, and say “Thank you”. Don’t simper or act shocked and for chrissake don’t argue. Just smile, say “Thank you” and move on. And remember to give compliments, and know how to ask questions.