Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things that every adult should know how to do

It's funny, there are times when I sit back and think "there is no way that I'm actually an adult yet," but then I take a longer look at my life and think, "oh wait... yeah, I've been here a while" especially when I realized that I cut my hair off because I was too busy to deal with it anymore when in my "younger days" my long, flowing hair was a HUGE priority.

I was scanning Pinterest today and I kept seeing really inane tutorials for things that most adults should know by the time they are off living on their own. I had to stop and wonder "are there people in their early 20's running around that have no clue how to do these things? Then I thought about my peer group and I realized... "yep... there are..."

This does tie in to home improvement, decorating and that sort of deal. I promise. So here is the list of things that adults should know how to do (not listed in order of importance, but really off the top of my head).

  1. Write a resume and cover letter. I was very fortunate that a required class for my major was dedicated toward learning this skill. I can't even tell you how helpful it was. Dr. Sharon Carrish, if you're reading this blog, I am truly, eternally thankful. There are many great tutorials out there on the web. There are a few main points when writing your resume: 
    1. Don't be super artsy or fancy (unless of course you're applying for a graphic arts position or something of that ilk), the easier your resume is to read, the more likely it will actually be read.
    2. Use a professional email with your contact info. Usually this is something that is just your name or your initials and some numbers - nothing silly like dragonhunter21 or hanzsololuvr... or whatever. It just looks bad. 
    3. ALWAYS include the job title that you're applying for. Most companies have multiple jobs they are looking to fill and if you don't tell them which one you are applying for, chances are they won't even read your resume. 
    4. List (in bullet point form) your relevant experience (use the job description as a guide) using past-tense for each job you've had in the last 10 years (more than that is considered "out of date" in most situations. Ex: Wrote and edited articles for school newspaper. Would be great if you're right out of college, but if you're 30, you probably shouldn't include that. If you're right out of college, listing experience that you have in the form of individual and class projects, internships or club activities is also acceptable. 
    5. This is going to sound harsh, but don't bother putting on there that you're a "team player" or "outgoing." They assume that you have the necessary characteristics that are required to function in the workplace. If you are really hell-bent on letting them know you're just a Perky Patsy, then find a way to let your experience show that. Ex: Planned and MC'd annual company picnic.
    6. Experience (most of the time) is going to be more important than your actual degree (although there are circumstances where that doesn't apply). Usually it's wise to list your educational experience at the end of your relevant work experience. More often than not, the folks looking to hire someone are concerned with the fact that you just have a degree and not as much with what it is, so long as you have relevant work experience to back up that you can do the job. 
    7. Cover letters should tell the reader why you are a good match for their company. This will require you to do some research. Look up the company's mission statement. Is there something that they do that you're really passionate about? Let them know why and how you will be a good asset to the company. Also, make sure to use spell-check and proof-read your work. If you're not the best editor, find a friend who will be willing to look it over.
  2. Manage your bank account & household budgeting. This is something that a lot of folks, regardless of generation or age group have trouble with. I'm definitely not perfect when it comes to this, but I've recognized that the bills need to be paid on time and to not live above my means. It also meant that I couldn't spend money willy-nilly on whatever whim. What I did to get my budget in line is use an Excel spreadsheet and utilized equations on the sheet to keep a running ledger of my monthly expenses. I always have at least 6 months of bills planned and put in the system. This way, I know exactly how much is available in my bank account at any given time. Different methods work for different people, but if you are looking for a long-term way to save money (for something like, a down-payment on a house or a large renovation project) this method really helps. It also gives you flexibility in case an unexpected expense comes up because you can see where you can move money around without causing issues in making payments on time. An important thing to remember is to always try to put money into savings. Even if it's $10 a month, it's better than nothing. Credit cards can be great for emergencies and all, but don't spend above what you can pay back in a month or two. The interest rates on credit cards are a nightmare! If you do fall into the credit card trap (I have before, it's not fun) try to pay as much as you can every month, otherwise it will take forever to pay off. 
  3. Cooking. I don't expect people to be gourmet chefs, but it's also a good idea to know how to prepare good, healthy food. It's amazing how so many people live off of frozen/box dinners! Cooking doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. A few things to keep in mind when cooking: 
    1. Buy fresh fruits and veggies that are in season. This means they had less of a distance to travel to your store and will stay good longer. 
    2. Make a menu. If you know what you want to eat before going to the store and make a list of ingredients, you will spend less. Also, you can plan for left-overs nights and meals with the same ingredients (but cooked a different way or with different spices) and that will save you some money as well. 
    3. Cook proper portions. So many of us don't know what a "proper" portion looks like. Grocery stores aren't necessarily helping us out either by packaging meat in larger increments (it's nearly impossible to get just one pound of lean ground beef). A serving of meat is generally the size of a deck of cards or 3oz. I explained that to my husband and he thought I was kidding. The restaurants you go to and can get 16oz steaks... do people realize that's an ENTIRE pound of meat? Gross. Also, proper portions are not only healthier for you, but you will save money.
    4. Buy only what you need, try to buy on sale. Lots of grocery stores have "club cards" that allow you to save some money here and there on groceries. Sign up. 
    5. There are tons of easy recipes online. My favorite website is Allrecipes.com. You can find anything on there. Another favorite is Great British Kitchen, but that's because I like to try and cook food that corresponds with my British lineage. 
    6. Practice, practice, practice. Folks, I was not always the best cook. Actually, I used to be terrible. I even burned jello once. But, I decided that I was going to learn how to cook and started with really simple things like baked chicken breast and stir-frys. After years of practice I've come to really love cooking and enjoy making interesting and new meals for Garry and I and friends that come over to visit. 
  4. Sewing/clothing care. Again, you don't have to know complicated stuff here - I'm not saying everyone should know how to make a boned bodice with a peplum and shoulder rolls - but knowing how to hem your own pants, fix a ripped seam or sew on a button is important to know as these are things that most folks come across. Also, knowing how to launder and care for your own clothes properly is important. 
  5. Deal with conflict in a responsible and respectable way. I won't even get into the number of times I see adults out and about acting incredibly childish when they don't "get their way" or are involved in some level of conflict. I just don't get it. My thought is that if you're involved in a conflict the best thing to do is to stay calm and communicate. Chances are the conflict has something to do with a mis-communication. If someone is upset at you for something you know you did - own up to it. Blaming something/someone else isn't going to make things better, but apologizing for making someone upset will help. If someone upset you, let them know what action made you upset and why it upsets you. Ex: I feel irritated when you leave your underwear in a pile instead of putting them in the hamper because it makes the bedroom look messy. Or something to that kind of tone. Keep in mind that you need to respect the feelings of the other party, even if they aren't respecting yours. Don't lose your integrity or cool, chances are these conflicts aren't life-or-death and in the grand scheme of things "aren't a big deal." Sure there are many exceptions to that, but even then, keep your cool and remember to respect other parties. 
  6. Cleaning. It's my absolute least favorite chore. I can't tell you how many times I would have rather sat on my butt and watched a movie than clean up. But, cleaning is necessary unless you want to end up on an episode of "How Clean is Your House." BTW - that website has TONS of great cleaning tips! If you sometimes have the issue with getting off your bum to clean, just watch a few episodes of this show... it will motivate you. Not only does cleaning your home burn calories, but it helps keep you  and any guests or pets healthier too. Also, there's nothing like waking up on your day off to a clean house. It's actually quite blissful to have my morning cup of coffee, some toast and enjoy being in a clean, uncluttered room. Also, as a part of cleaning, every once in a great while it's good to go through your closet, storage boxes or "decorative items" and purge what isn't necessary anymore. Part of the problem is people collect clutter and before you know it - there's so much stuff that no matter how much you clean your home never feels "clean." Either corral the clutter with some multi-functional storage, or get rid of it. Remember - they are just "things" no matter how sentimental they are. 
  7. Do basic home repairs. Knowing how to hang a picture frame, put plastic sheeting on your windows (if you have older ones that are drafty), change a light bulb, paint your walls and unclog a drain are really important to know how to do. There are some great books out there - one of them being "Decorating Your First Apartment: From Moving In To Making It Your Own." I bought this book when I moved out of my parents house and it was really helpful. In the book there are lists of what to have on hand in case of emergencies, basic tools everyone should own, and how to decorate a small space on an even smaller budget. I'm still going back to this book even though I'm a homeowner because there is some really great fundamental stuff in there. 
So those are my Things Every Adult Should Know How To Do. I'm sure I'm missing a few things, feel free to add anything in the comments section that I've missed.