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Some advice I've learned

The best advice I’ve ever gotten from anyone. I don’t mind listening to others’ advice, but I tend to test it out a bit, or at least observe it in action, before I take it to heart. What follows is the best advice I’ve gotten through the years from a variety of sources.

The first source is my mother. Out of all the advice she gave me throughout the years I’ve found two things that are absolutely spot-on, tried and tested, the best.

One – learn as much math as you can. You will find a use for it. I know a lot of people that could have used this advice. No matter who you are, no matter what you choose to do with your life, math is a critical skill. Everyone has to do taxes, has a bank account, wants to retire in something other than abject poverty. The more math you know the easier it is to deal with money. If you don’t learn the math you’re going to be paying, to get your taxes done, to balance your bank account, to deal with all the money matters around you. But wait, you say, you only need to know basic algebra to deal with money, not geometry or calculus. Nope. Not true. You need statistics. That’s well beyond basic algebra. Learn math. It’s useful. For more than just money too, science, computers, etc.

Two – get the biggest clothes washer and dryer that is available. Ignore the salesperson, when they try to sell you on fancy settings or economy. Get the biggest you can find. Why? Because you’re always going to have large loads, bedspreads, curtains, etc. You can always set the washer to a small or medium setting, but you can’t make it bigger than it is. So get the big one, unless you want to take your bedspreads and curtains and etc. out for regular cleaning.

This applies to most big purchases. Know what you really need. Understand what you’re going to use it for, and ignore the sales person. They aren’t you. They are working with a different set of constraints. Know what you really need, and stick to it.

This one I got from my husband – We’re raising adults, not children. Keep the goal in sight, keep your eyes on the prize. By the time they leave the house there is a minimum of things they need to know and to have practiced. They should be able to make their own decisions, and have practice recovering from bad decisions. They’re better off learning from a mistake on a simple, minor decision while they’re still young an living at home, rather than learning from a mistake on a big crucial life decision.

This means, among other things, that they get to decide on their hair, their clothes, their friends, their classes, etc. while they are young. Yes, they’re going to make mistakes. Better to learn from a bad haircut at 8 than at 28. Better to learn to identify people who aren’t really your friends at 16 than at 26. The consequences aren’t as dire, and the recovery is quicker.

They also need to know about keeping a house, a yard, a pet, a car, and any other thing that will be important in their lives. Like cooking and laundry. I was amazed and shocked when I went off to college at how many grown adults didn’t know these basic skills. My kids tell me things haven’t changed.

This is getting long, so I’ll continue next time.

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