10 Life Skills Every Twentysomething Should Have (and How to Master Them)

These handy tips will help you master a few essential life skills in no time.
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These handy tips will help you master a few essential life skills in no time.
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Art Credit: Shannon Lee Miller

Whether you're fresh out of school or simply navigating this world we call "adulthood," it can be exciting to be making decisions for yourself. Exploring new cities, signing your lease, and picking out your own decorative pillows—why, it's an independent woman's dream! But there are plenty of pesky responsibilities to go along with it: Late fees on unpaid bills, backed-up pipes, and blown-out tires don't help those who don't help themselves.

Luckily, it's never too late to learn something new. Always wanted to grill the perfect steak? Or plant a garden? Or learn to sew? These handy tips will help you master a few essential life skills in no time. You know the saying, "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." Well, here's your bait and pole, young grasshopper. Go fish.

01. Painting a room
Renovating or redecorating a new apartment puts a personal touch on your home. While painting a room looks easy, it takes skill to ensure the ceiling and walls end up with crisp coats of the right color paint. With the right technique and decent equipment, anyone can paint a room for a lot less than it would cost to hire a painter or redecorator. Practice by offering to paint a door, wall, or room in your house with a fresh coat. Live Love DIY has a list of tools and tips to get you started. Or volunteer at an organization like Habitat for Humanity where you earn your stripes.

02. Caring for your car
Owning a car is owning a depreciating asset, so you better make sure it has a long life. Even if you don’t own a car, learning to tell when something is wrong with your rental can save unnecessary hassle and worry. Who said that car maintenance is just for dudes? From changing the oil to rotating your tires, The Art of Manliness has got you covered.

03. Organizing your time

Life is all about making connections with other people and learning to honor the promises you make. If you can't keep small commitments, chances are you won't be able to keep larger ones. Start a small daily planner (Moleskine is a classic) or fill out the calendar on your phone to keep track of all your important engagements.

04. Grilling a steak
Many people shy away from cooking meat unless there is a more knowledgeable person around to guide them. Learn your mom’s recipe for killer barbecue ribs or the special way your dad prepares a steak on Sunday. Tweak the old family recipe, or experiment with new rubs and marinades. Not into beef? Memorize your one or two vegetarian dishes instead. Food52 is our current favorite for trying new recipes and mastering the basics. Learning to cook will impress friends and guests. And you won't find yourself stuck at the grocery store wondering what to make for dinner.

05. Making a perfect bed
Living away from home makes it more tempting than ever to leave our beds unmade. But making your bed every morning lends order to even the untidiest of rooms. Our friends at Crane & Canopy share their tips and tricks to making the perfect bed in this two-minute vid. Master this and you'll be crawling into a hotel-grade bed every night.

06. Gardening
Caring for a garden is hard work, but it can yield great results. By cutting your own grass and mulching your own flowerbeds, you can help yourself by not hiring a lawn service. When the weather is right, use this cheat sheet to plant a few hardy vegetables, like tomatoes or carrots. Short on space? Tend a window box of fresh herbs that you can use to garnish your dinners.

07. Unclogging a drain
As messy as is it to unclog a drain, you’ll be glad not having to depend on your landlord or the local plumber every time the pipes get stopped up. Now is a good time to learn how to use basic tools such as a hammer, wrench, and drill. The more maintenance work you do, the more you’ll learn to alter your habits to save on time spent fixing up after yourself. Did you know you can unclog a drain with baking powder and vinegar? Bye-bye harsh chemicals!

08. Repairing clothing
Loosing a button or snagging a hole in your favorite dress can be irritating. Learn how to make small repairs or slight alterations to your clothes to get more wear out of them. Resizing your own blouse or altering your own coat will save you a bundle. Keep a small sewing kit for emergencies so that you always look your best.

09. Cleaning
Unless you can afford to hire a maid, you’ll need to do your own cleaning. Tackle tough jobs like cleaning a toilet, scrubbing out an oven, or washing the floor. Experiment with natural cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda. Balance out your cleaning schedule during the week so that your chores don't pile up when you’d rather be going out with friends.

10. Keeping a budget
Balancing a checkbook and keeping accounts is one of the most valuable lessons any young person can learn. Track your spending in a notebook, a spreadsheet, or online banking program. Divide your income for specific expenses like groceries, travel, and car loans. It keeps you from overspending and throwing yourself into debt.

Never be afraid to learn something new, even if it means rolling up your sleeves and plunging into the dirty work. With some coaching, motivation, and elbow grease, you'll become the confident and independent woman you're meant to be, ready for any challenge life brings.