30 Life Skills You Should Learn in Your 20s

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Being a twenty-something year old isn’t easy for most. You’re still discovering who you are, what you plan to do with your life, how you’re going to make a living, etc. Obviously, these skills can be learned at any age, and this list is not limited to only those in their twenties. Whether you’re in your late teens or your late 40’s, you’ll want to make sure you learn these 30 skills, they can make life easier! 

1. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Being able to effectively communicate and express yourself in a mature and professional manner is a huge life skill. Interacting with others is an unavoidable part of life. Even if you completely isolate yourself, you’ll still have to speak to another human at some point. Embrace human interaction and develop strong communication skills. It’s a useful skill to have, it will benefit your career, college experience, social life and pretty much every time you open your mouth.

2. LEARN TO COOK

Alright, so you don’t have to be a Michelin star chef, but knowing how to prepare some basic meals is an important life skill that you’ll be glad to have. Eating out is expensive, it can become a habit that will take a huge chunk out of your income. Learn to cook some healthy and filling meals, you will see just how easy it is and probably enjoy it. Start buying more healthy ingredients while grocery shopping, instead of pre-made processed foods. Your body and wallet will thank you.

3. KNOW THE BASICS OF AUTO MAINTENANCE

It’s a good idea to learn how to repair a flat tire. You’ll have peace of mind while you drive and won’t need to rely on expensive roadside assistance or a flaky friend to come to your rescue. Understand how a vehicle works so you can better discuss issues with a mechanic. Learn how to change your oil (it’s really easy)! Change your own air filter, headlights, and windshield wipers. You will save a ton of money and know the job was done right.

4. HOW TO LEAVE A TIP

Going to a nice restaurant or getting a couple of beers at the bar means you’ll need to leave a tip. Understand that this is how service workers get paid, its common decency to leave a tip even if you’re not blown away by the service. I personally leave 10% as a minimum if the service was subpar, 15% if it was okay, and 20% if it was great. To calculate a tip simply move the decimal of your bill once to the left and double that number to get 20%. If you can’t afford to leave a tip then you shouldn’t be eating out or getting a service that requires a tip. 

5. ORGANIZATION SKILLS

Staying organized can help you be more efficient, productive, energetic and even reduce stress. Get in the habit of staying organized at home, work, and anywhere you spend your time. Reduce the clutter, organize your possessions, and watch how much of a difference it makes in your life. This is one of the most important life skills you should learn in your 20s.

6. TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR FRIEND

Do you know how to use all the features on your smartphone? Can you set up a computer or TV with ease? What about installing the drivers needed for a new printer? Knowing the basics of technology is an essential life skill that you will use over, and over again. Figure out how to stay safe online and learn to remove a virus if you get one. Be able to troubleshoot problems like your Wi-Fi going out, your Bluetooth not connecting, and other basic tech problems that most people run into. 

7. BASIC CLEANING SKILLS

Keeping your living space and vehicle clean will improve your quality of life. Learn the methods of effective cleaning, how to properly vacuum, what chemicals to use, how to do laundry, etc. Having a good habit of cleanliness will make you appreciate and take better care of your things. When you keep your home and possessions clean, you will feel better about yourself and won’t be embarrassed to have friends and family over. Don’t rely on others to clean for you, take pride in your home, vehicle or living area and use some elbow grease once in a while!  

8. HOW TO WRITE AND HAVE LEGIBLE HANDWRITING

Even in this technologically advanced age, handwriting is still used and won’t go away anytime soon. Sometimes you will be forced to fill out important documents by hand, if people can’t read your handwriting it will set you back. Having the basic writing skills to properly structure a paragraph, email, essay, etc is very important. If you attend college you will learn the basics of writing, even if it’s unrelated to your major. If you don’t go to college, still take the time to brush up on your writing skills. You will find it to be a useful skill that can be applied in many different career paths. 

9. MINOR HOME REPAIRS

The more you can do yourself the better. At the very least, you should learn to change a light bulb, fix a clogged toilet, replace a furnace filter, replace a broken showerhead, etc. Even if you’re renting, it’s good to know how to do some minor repairs around the place. Most of the time it won’t cost you anything and you won’t have to deal with your landlord. Of course, for any expensive or time-consuming jobs, make sure you get your landlord to take care of it, that’s part of the perks of renting. For homeowners you’ll definitely want to know how to do some home repairs, it will end up saving you a lot of money.

10. LEARN TO RESEARCH EFFECTIVELY

Thanks to the internet, we are able to access over a million terabytes of information right at our fingertips. Yeah, that is a ton of information! With all of that info, it’s important to know how to filter through the junk and get what you are looking for. Sometimes the right answer is at the top of your Google search, other times you will need to dig in a bit more and look through other sources. If you are researching something that has multiple answers look into each one without being biased. Be wary of websites that are just trying to sell you something, or unreputable sources with “shocking” headlines.

11. TIME MANAGEMENT

Learn to set a schedule and plan how much time you spend on specific activities and projects. Efficiently managing your time will allow you to make the best of what little time we have on this earth. If you can build a habit of good time management, you’ll be able to get more done and get ahead of your peers. Most work settings will preach how important it is to have this skill, but it should also be applied when you’re off the clock.  

12. LEARN TO ACCEPT CRITICISM

The natural human reaction to criticism is to get offended and be defensive. Learn the difference between someone that is flat out being rude and someone that’s trying to give some honest feedback. Successful people love criticism, it helps them identify areas where they can improve. You will have to deal with criticism throughout your entire life. Don’t take it personally and listen to it, decipher it and understand that it could be constructive instead of reacting negatively.

13. KNOW HOW TO BUDGET

Budgeting is your friend. Be on top of your finances and set up a budget. Know how to balance a checkbook, fill out important financial documents, build an emergency savings, etc. Many people struggle with this, but if you learn to budget early and stick with it, you will be much more likely to prosper financially.

14. BE ON TIME

Being fashionably late sounds pretty cool but being fired from your job is totally not cool. Give yourself enough time to get ready in the morning. Wake up when your alarm goes off, instead of hitting the snooze. You can use your smartphone to find out how long it takes to get somewhere and you should know how long you take to get ready. It’s best practice to give yourself at least one hour. Be a few minutes early to an interview, show up to your work on time, be there when you will say you’re going to be there. 

15. USE A CALENDAR

Don’t forget about Mother’s Day, your anniversary, your dentist’s appointment or that really important thing you have coming up. Most people rely on Facebook to remind them of their friends and family’s birthdays. That’s fine, but also use a calendar to help you remember other important events and dates, deadlines, etc. It will help keep your life more organized. You can get the classic paper calendars for free at most banks during the beginning of each year or just use the one on your smartphone. 

16. MAKE SMALL TALK AND CARRY A CONVERSATION

We talked about effective communication earlier, however, the art of small talk is a bit different. It’s more about listening and engaging with other people and being able to fill any awkward silence with some light conversation. You’re going to want to be a pro at small talk, it will make you a more likable person and help you network with people. Striking up a conversation isn’t always easy or necessary, so gauge it by each individual situation and don’t try too hard.

17. KNOW HOW TO DRESS WELL

You don’t have to wear Armani or Versace (unless that’s your thing) but you should know how to put an outfit together. You can look good and save money, there are affordable stylish clothes available at many retailers. Confide in one of your fashionable friends or read some fashion magazines and define a style that works for you. Being able to dress well will boost your confidence and help you get dates, land jobs and have a better self-image. 

18. BASIC SURVIVAL KNOWLEDGE

Hopefully, you will never need to use any survival skills, but you’ll be glad you learned some if you do find yourself in a situation that requires them. You can go as far as doing some extreme camping and learning to survive off the land first hand or just simply buying a survival book. Learn some of the basics like starting a fire, finding food, building a shelter, etc. 

19. SELF DEFENSE

This is another skill that you’ll hopefully never have to use but should learn anyway. It’s important to be able to hold your own if you run into a rough crowd. Unfortunately, there are people out there that prey on others and you don’t want to be a victim. Take a few lessons or watch a couple of YouTube videos and memorize some of the techniques on kicking ass. You will feel safer and be able to protect yourself and others from harm. 

20. PROPER PERSONAL HYGIENE

Hopefully, you’ve already learned this well before your twenties! Keeping yourself clean isn’t just as simple as a shower. Put in the extra effort and trim your hair, clip your nails, clean your ears, etc. Flossing is so important! Please start flossing if you don’t already, it makes a huge difference. Use good deodorant, shampoo, soap, and wear a small amount of cologne or perfume. Just don’t overdo it, no one wants to pass out from a whiff of too much Old Spice.

21. HOW TO BARGAIN SHOP

You don’t necessarily have to clip coupons, but you should learn how to find some deals. It doesn’t take much effort to shop around and it can save you a lot of money. Being frugal doesn’t mean that you have to buy the cheapest product every time. Being frugal means you’re willing to put in the effort to stop yourself from unnecessary overspending. Compare items and prices, in some cases, it’s better to buy a more expensive brand because it might work better and last longer. Other times it’s a no brainer to go with the cheaper alternative. 

22. PROTECT YOUR PASSWORDS

In the digital age, we are bombarded with logins and passwords for everything. Don’t use an easy to guess password and don’t use the same password for everything. Make a few different strong passwords that you can memorize and associate with different accounts. Keep them safe by not writing them down or putting them in vulnerable places. 

23. BE PREPARED FOR EMERGENCIES

Buy a couple of 72-hour kits, keep a supply of drinking water just in case shit hits the fan or a natural disaster strikes. Even if you believe it will never happen, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the worst. No, you don’t need to live in a bomb shelter or have a sustainable indoor zombie-proof panic room. (Although, that would be pretty sweet.) But having zero emergency supplies isn’t very smart either. Have a plan and discuss it with your family and know where to go and what to do if disaster does strike. 

24. LEARN THE BASICS OF INVESTING

I have to mention this! After all, this is an investing blog and it truly is a necessary life skill. Yes, you should learn about the financial markets and how they work. It will help you understand and better manage your money.  Know how the markets can affect your livelihood and retirement. Learn about your 401k, what an IRA is and how to effectively use them. Simple knowledge of investing and putting it to good use can help you retire comfortably and make your money work for you. 

25. STAYING ACTIVE AND EXERCISING OFTEN

Have you seen the Disney movie WALL-E? If you haven’t, the movie is based in the future and everyone is morbidly obese from staring at screens and never exercising. Pretty eye-opening for a kids’ movie right? It’s easy to turn into a couch potato in this day and age. We have Netflix, food delivery services, and now cannabis is being legalized! It’s a deadly combination. Stop yourself from turning into a blob early in life by getting in the habit of staying active. Make an exercise regimen and stick with it, have a hobby that keeps you in shape or simply just work out a few times a week. Staying active will increase your energy and help you live longer. 

26. ALWAYS PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME

I recommend setting up autopay, just budget for the amount of bills you have every month and keep a cushion in your bank account. If you pay your bills on time, you will build your credit and save money by avoiding late fees and extra interest payments. Don’t ever rely on grace periods or ask for extensions unless you absolutely have to. If you live within your means, then paying your bills on time should be an easy life skill to master. 

27. KNOW HOW TO NEGOTIATE

Don’t pay sticker price for that vehicle! Do your research when it comes to big purchases and practice bartering. Maybe you’ll need to negotiate a pay raise with your boss or negotiate an important business deal. Whatever the case, you will find negotiation is a huge skill that can help you with big and small life events. Get comfortable utilizing some negotiation tactics, it will make it easier to get what you want out of life. 

28. AVOID GETTING INTO DEBT

At some point, everyone will have some sort of debt. It could be student loans, car loans, mortgage, etc. If you can strive to live within your means and only make purchases you can afford, this will limit the amount of debt you have.  A big one for the younger crowd is getting into auto loan debt. The good news is, this can easily be avoided.  You need a car that runs, don’t try to impress your friends (trust me they don’t care). Student loans and mortgages are common and sometimes a necessary debt, just try to pay them off as soon as possible.

29. HAVE A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF TAXES

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” They don’t teach taxes in most schools; many people just know that they have to pay them and keep it at that. Getting a big tax refund is actually a bad thing, it means you gave the government an interest-free loan. Figure out how to read and understand important tax documents, learn a few basic accounting skills and try to break even every tax year instead of overpaying and getting a refund. 

30. HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE

Everyone wants to have a happy life, yet we all seem to forget that happiness is a choice. It takes time to develop a mindset that can keep us happy when we are having a bad day. But it is well worth the effort. This skill is the most essential because it will literally provide the greatest amount of joy in your life. Don’t depend on possessions, other people or substances to make you happy. Make the choice to be happy simply because you can.