Introducing Heading Out On Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 31, 2012 · 195 comments

in A Man's Life, Heading Out On Your Own

Growing up, Dwight D. Eisenhower (yes, Ike again — I couldn’t fit all the great facts about him into our leadership series!) was responsible for many chores around the house and for looking after his younger brothers. When his mother got sick and was quarantined in a room in the house for several months, Ike was responsible for cooking for his whole family — his mother would call directions to him from her bed on how to make the meals (this experience gave Ike a lifelong love of cooking). When Eisenhower graduated from high school, he started working as an engineer in a creamery’s ice plant. He worked 84 hours a week, from six P.M. to six A.M, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Even with his savings, he didn’t want his college education to put any burden on his parents at all, so he decided to apply to the Naval Academy. He and his friend who also hoped to attend a military college, sent away for past entrance examinations, and after working all night, Ike would sleep a few hours and then go over to the gas lighting store where his friend was employed, and together they would study every afternoon before Ike had to be back at the ice plant. Eisenhower ended up at West Point, and when he got there, was able to hit the ground running. That was 1915.

In 2001, I, Brett McKay, graduated from high school and after a summer working at a paint shop, left home to become a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. I had never done my own laundry. I had never cleaned my own bathroom. I had never cooked for myself, unless plates of nachos count. I was a typical middle-class kid from the burbs, and the first time I moved away from home, I floundered. I finished the fall semester with a 2.6 GPA, and moved back home to go to a local college in my hometown.

My parents, God bless ‘em, had tried to prepare me for leaving the nest, but they were also willing to do a lot of things for me, and as a teenager lacking foresight, I didn’t see a reason to look the gift horse in the mouth and learn how to do them myself. I eventually learned a lot of the basic life skills I had once been lacking, but I wish I had prepared myself a little better to become independent and self-reliant once I had flown the coop.

Introducing Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days

August begins tomorrow and that means millions of young men around the country will be getting ready to head off to college and/or move out on their own in just one month’s time. In an effort to help our young readers avoid the same hapless mistakes I made, we’ve decided to run a series during the month of August called “Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days.”

The goal of this series is simple: to help young men heading out on their own for the first time learn some of the very basic life skills they’ll need to succeed once they’re living on their own.

Each day during August we’ll publish one article covering a different basic life skill I wish I had mastered before I left home. We’ll use a variety of formats (text articles, videos, and illustrated guides), and topics will range from personal finance to basic home-ec skills. While we can’t cover every skill a young man needs to know before leaving home in just 31 days, we hope by the end of the month we’ll have covered enough to allow a young man to thrive while living on their own. Even if you’re a young man who has this stuff down pat, it won’t hurt to review it before you head out.

What About Us Old-Timers Who Already Know This Stuff?

If you’re an older reader who’s worried that they’ll have to sit through one month of nothing but basic life skills articles, fear not! This daily series is in addition to our regularly scheduled content (we’re gluttons for pain!). You’ll still find our regular weekly content that’s relevant and of interest to you.

While you may have already mastered the skills we plan on covering, we’d definitely still encourage you to contribute to the discussion on each post. The more insights on each skill, the better.

If you know a young man who would benefit from this series, please send him this way. Encourage him to subscribe to our daily email newsletter or to follow us on Twitter or Facebook so he can get some guidance on getting ready to live on his own.

Any Particular Skills You Think We Need to Cover?

While we have most of the 31 skills already planned out, we’re curious if there are any skills in particular you think we should cover. If so, share them with us in the comments. If we get a lot of good suggestions that don’t make the cut this time around, we might include them for another edition next summer!

{ 195 comments… read them below or add one }

101 lesserlesserwashington August 1, 2012 at 10:32 am

Voting. Keeping your house organized and clean. Basic cooking techniques. Finance.

102 Aaron August 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

* The Bacchus Maneuver – good thing to know for college kids.

-Putting together a home and car emergency kit.
-How to put together a small tool box for apartment living.
-Home brew coffee…not spent $4 a day for coffee.
-Cure a hangover?

103 Kevin August 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

How manage time.
How to choose a major (or don’t).
Jobs no one goes to school for (not being a doctor, lawyer, research scientist) what else is there?
How to earn money while at school.
How to control your anger.
How to smoke a pipe.
How to organize your stuff.
How to take class notes?
How to write a paper/study for a test/manage mid-term and final exams.
How to pack a car for travel.
How to pack for Europe.
What books you need to read.

Applaud a lot of previous suggestions…
Basic Money Management (why not to get a credit card)
Learn to Drive Manual Car
How to dress professionally.

104 J. Delancy August 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

Great idea:
By the time I left for college in 1986, I knew how to wash my clothes, iron, cook, clean a house, change a tire, etc. Completely clueless on: The opposite sex, Budgeting, and the pitfalls of the credit card industry. WORST of all I believed (like many others) that education exempted me from having to hustle. I’d advise all of the young men just starting out to read the post on this blog about having a side hustle. You will gain more valuable info than you would in a Comparative Literature class.

105 allen August 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

Daily cleaning so your apt isn’t a mess
Saving 20% of check
How to grocery shop (this one us still a b*tch for my wife and I )
How to fix a light fixture
How to patch a hole in the wall
How to patch a tire
Meal planing for the week

106 LBN the 3rd August 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

Mom’s most crude but famous saying, “If you can’t cook, you probably can’t please a woman either. You must be able to cook!”

Well, I can cook…thanks Mom.

107 Melika August 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

Discuss how much money it actually takes to live a certain lifestyle. Covering the middle school basics of checking account balance, etc. is nice, but nobody really goes into how much money you need to make in order to live a certain lifestyle. Many people in high school have no real idea how much money it takes to live, and for those entering college, they are often schooled to “find their bliss” as an occupation, without considering job openings, average wages, etc. thinking that they’ll be able to afford what they want simply because they have a degree. TV doesn’t help, as it often portrays people with low paying jobs in fabulous looking houses, so young people often have a misconception of what they will be able to afford. Most adults I know will agree that they are willing to do just about any job, and will enjoy it, so long as it provides enough money to enjoy life afterwards. Finding one’s bliss in work is mostly a fantasy involving a really good income from such work. Nobody actually talks dollars.

Regardless of income, percentages will be the same for a healthy financial life. What percentage of your wages should be allocated to a car, a home, fun money, insurance, etc. Someone might be able to afford a $50k car, but it might not be a good idea if they only make $25k a year as those funds are probably taken from other necessities. How do those percentages change if getting married, or supporting 1,2, or 3 baby’s mamas and their babies?

108 Aaron August 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

I had to learn almost all this stuff the hard way – especially the money stuff. I’m really looking forward to reading these articles.

The only think I’d add to all of the great topic suggestions is appliance repair, including household mechanical systems. You don’t need a new washing machine every time yours breaks – usually there’s an inexpensive part that can be replaced. Your air conditioner is not too complicated for you to troubleshoot, service, and repair yourself. That kind of stuff. I’ve saved myself untold thousands of dollars in service calls that I didn’t have to make, because I have a few hand tools and *everything* is available online these days.

You could just about do a whole series on it.

109 Sean August 1, 2012 at 11:21 am

You should consider doing an article describing the importance of not falling into a mindset that society expects. An article that teaches you to look past sex and money to see a more important feature, finding what a person loves to do in life. Just because someone has already chosen a path, doesn’t mean their life is decided. This article should influence a reader to begin asking a specific question everyday they wake up: “If the world were to end tomorrow, will I be able to look back and say, ‘What I did today was a good way to spend my last day!’ or did I just fall into a routine that society deemed normal?”

110 Mat August 1, 2012 at 11:28 am

Sounds great! I wish I would have been introduced to “adult” finances: Credit cards and credit scores, getting and maximizing a 401(K) through work, saving for retirement with a Roth IRA, high(er) interest money market account vs. savings account, information about interest rates on a new car/home, etc.

111 Korey August 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

Managing time and creating time to study would be priority one. Secondly, I would address how to manage finances with a low income (college or entry workforce). Lastly, it would be good to address how to do the things your mother has been doing your whole life for you (laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning).

112 Jeff August 1, 2012 at 11:38 am

I agree that car maintenance and money managing should be learned before turning 18. Here are a few more:

1. Buy a good set of tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, and/or a socket set).
2. Lose the dockers and buy a quality pair of wool pantaloons (yes, I said pantaloons).
3. Buy quality products. Example: Buy a good stainless steel frying pan. Yes, Teflon pans are much cheaper, but will have to be replaced every few years as they wear. You can get a good quality Cuisinart stainless steel pan for $75-$100 and it will last you forever. If you ruin a quality stainless steel pan, you should admit your anger management problems. (FYI, there are numerous youtube videos on how to cook using stainless steel.)
4. Don’t stare at the ground while walking down the sidewalk.

113 SL August 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

I’d suggest covering “measure twice, cut once”. It’s not only applicable to cutting lumber, it could also mean read the instructions twice before cutting, check the directions twice before driving, etc. i.e. prevent errors.

114 Brandon August 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

How to build a fire
How to light, cook, and maintain a gas and or charcoal grill

115 Brandon August 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

Wow! This series could not have come at a better time for me! I have just one month before I move out and this will help me so much!

116 Andy August 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Good one!

- Important things to know when you buy a used car

- Things to do in a knife fight

Have a nice day

117 3x EagleScout Mum August 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm

All great suggestions here and I’m sure you will cover it well, but don’t forget some basic plumbing! Boys sometimes pick up how to plunge and look in the tank but you won’t believe how many boys don’t know you can actually turn off the water right behind the bowl & outside!! Invaluable if it’s overflowing non-stop…. Plus basic faucet & drain care and clearing are always needed in a low rent place. Teach the beauty of plumbers tape and how to change a shower head/gaskets. There is also that little thing about pipes in the wall or yard you have to watch out for.
I whole-heartedly agree with the need for all the financial necessities listed above but I would also suggest basic auto maintenance, bike care, food planning (cook a day – eat a month) and STAIN REMOVAL! ..just washing isn’t always enough!

118 Juarl August 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Knotts by Grogg – the app! Keep it in your phone!

119 chuck August 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I don’t know about all the philosophical stuff regarding mindsets, lifestyles, and society. Ya gotta figure that out on yer own. There are a few that you’ve already covered that could be re-introduced, and a few new ones I can think of:

- How to sharpen an edged tool.
- How to negotiate
- How to tie a necktie (it’s sad how many “men” have their wives/girlfriends tie their ties!)
- how to shine a pair of shoes
- how to start a fire
- how to identify the basic types of Firearms and a little info on each.
- how to identify North American Trees and plants
- how to identify North American Fish, wildlife, and game.
- How to do laundry (yeah, I know, kids these days…)
- How to split wood
- basic electronics
- basic carpentry skills
- Retirement plans and strategies
- personal finance and budgeting
- how to balance a checkbook
- interpersonal communication skills and Rogerian Listening (kids are becoming less social in this digital age)
- Basic child-rearing skills
- sewing

I guess I could go on for a while…

120 Dave Davis August 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

First, I don’t think there is anybody to old to have a refresher on life skills – looking forward to it. But some thoughts on what should be covered:

How to pack for a weekend getaway
How to network (this perhaps could be it’s own theme)
How to plan 5 weekend months vs. 4 weekend months
How to hold a conversation with a single mother
The challenges of ‘going home again’ and I don’t mean moving in, but visiting now as a professional.
How to capture memories for sharing with your future children (save that ticket stub from a baseball game where you saw Justin Verlander pitch)
How to get into a habit of reading the right things for both business and pleasure
How to get involved in professional associations
How to hug and kiss relatives good-bye

121 Srinivas Kari August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I think while most of the physical skills were covered (cleaning your house, coking etc.) the most important skill you would need is emotional support/moral support. When at home, your parents/siblings are always there to prop you up and boost your confidence whenever the chips are down. If you have no one to turn to when you are going through a tough time (getting bad grades at school, getting fired from work, losing money on some bad friends, losing girlfriends/boyfriends etc ) getting back to a positive and strong frame of mind can be very tough. If you can learn to draw confidence and support from yourself without having to rely on anyone, you sir, are truly independent.

122 Oak August 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

+1 to all the money management suggestions. I’m just now getting out of almost 15 years of playing the credit card game.

Also, basic automotive preventative maintenance: check and fill the oil, transmission, brakes, power steering, tires. Heck I know a couple of younger guys who can’t fill the WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID.

123 Bart August 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

So I’m about to actually graduate college, and with that transition i will really be heading out on my own. I’ve lived on and off campus at the university of Pittsburgh, as well as moving back with my dad for my last year and a half of school. As I get ready to head out again, hopefully for good from my dads humble abode, I thought I’d like to ask if you could talk about not only topics relating to going into school, but also some serious stuff about really living on your own for the first time. To be honest I’m pretty scared of the final cut-off period. Even when I went to college my home was very close at hand, and I often went home on weekends to visit my girlfriend and see my family who I am very close with. This post really got me thinking about all the things I will have to do on my own, and dealing with homesickness is definitely one of them. If your could keep my humble situation in mind over the next month I’d really appriciate it. I’ve been a fan of your site for a long time now, and I save every article that I think will help me in the future. Thanks for being such an upstanding source of wisdom for me and my follow truth seekers. Peace and love to you and yours.


124 Bradley August 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

This comes at a perfect time for me! I’m moving to another state at the end of the month and this info will help immeasurably

125 G August 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

How to leave a tip for a waiter/waitress. It’s something I’ve never had to take care of, (I’m in high school) and I will have to know how once I’m on my own.

126 David Vega August 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm

How to use a credit card! This would have saved me thousands if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

127 jdude August 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

How to respect women and go on a grown up date, not just “hang out”. How to get measured for and buy a shirt, sport coat suit. How to dress like a grown up and pull your pants up. How not to have to wear a grungy ball cap like all the other guys in college. How to make the most of the still pretty rare opportunity of college and not piss it away like so many other freshmen guys who apparently never drank beer or spent a night away from home before.

128 Kevin V. August 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Timely series for many, including myself.

-sewing a hole in any pieces of clothing
-make small talk/approaching people, although I think there’s already an article on something similar
-riding a bike (seriously)
-time management
-financial aspects of college (debt, credit cards, saving, shopping, etc)
-organization (house-cleaning, keeping papers together)
-what to wear and when

129 Travis August 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Classifying the hordes of new people you meet into categories: How to know who will be good friends or how to manage friendships. Not just classic managing peer pressure, but avoiding it…or embracing it.

130 Franklin August 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I don’t know what a lot of other guys’ experiences were in college, but I wasn’t thinking about investing and stocks, I was thinking about where my next meal was coming from, how to say ” no thanks” in a cool way to drugs proffered, how to actually study. I was at school to learn, not to practice shaving with a straight razor.

Young men need to learn how to buy one roasted chicken, and not eat ALL of it in one sitting, but mix it up into many different meals that will last a week: tacos, stir-fry, burritos, soup, etc.

Young men need to make sure that they understand what “no” means from women.

Young men need to make sure they know where to turn for help if they find themselves in over their heads (depression, zero finances, illness, etc.).

Young men need to learn how to treat school like it’s their full-time job, because if they’re going away to school, that’s what it is.

Just plain old moving out? Yeah, all that other stuff that you can find on and other sites.

131 Mike August 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Since this series seems more geared towards young men heading off to college, or just leaving the nest, I would think the following would be applicable:

- creative Ramen noodle recipes,
- how to take notes
- what the best on-campus jobs are and how to land one
- how to patch a hole in a wall,
- how to choose/get along with a roommate,
- how to tap a keg,
- how to hustle your buddies for money when you’re the designated driver (I made DD-ing a lucrative business in college),
- how a gentleman starts a conversation with a girl, and not look like a creep
- how to do laundry (and pick a decent laundromat for that matter)

132 Zyll August 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Let’s see, what did I wish I knew when I left home?
- How to read a lease or rental agreement.
- How to avoid signing up for credit cards.
- How to live on a cash-based monthly budget.
- How to repair my clothing with basic sewing.
- How to cook cheap hot meals only using food staples from the perimeter of the grocery store.
- How to research and haggle when buying a used car.
- How to fix up a jalopy for debt-free transportation.
- How to dress like an adult.
- Proper oral hygiene to prevent all my gum problems now.
- How to build a supporting network of friends and neighbors in my new location (so I’m not calling MOM all the time).
- How to distinguish quality items (worth refurbishing) from worn-out crap at the local thrift store.
- How to assemble a basic tool box for each category – carpentry, plumbing, mechanical, gardening, electrical.
- How to spot and avoid charlatans, con-men, and other grifters.

133 Justin August 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm

What about understanding/ healthful skepticism on marketing messages and managing cash and credit scores.

134 Kevin Markl August 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

How to iron a shirt (in the absence of non-iron shirts).

135 Josh August 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I was in the military when I left home, but there are a few things I realized I had no clue about once I was moved out of the barracks.

- Basic auto maintenance (not going to Jiffy Lube for an oil change, etc.)
- College as a whole. I changed majors 5 times and wound up with a BA in Liberal Studies after 265 semester hours
- Basic electrical work. I recently changed out a ceiling fan in my house and lucky for me I made all possible mistakes when I lived in an apartment with a maintenance manager.
- Cooking for 1, or 2 if you’re lucky. Anyone can follow a recipe step by step and cook for 4 but it turns out that dividing everything by 4 doesn’t exactly work for recipes for 1.
- How to live with a roommate after not having one for years. This was the problem I encountered after learning to cook for 2 and finding a woman to put up with me. There’s not a lot of stuff out there about how a man can live with a woman.

136 Edward August 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm

How funny. It was only yesterday that I toke the first step toward moving out of my dad and step-mothers place. While I can still easily attend college form there, I am just sick of leaving under someone else after twenty years. Looking forward to the series.

137 Will Russell August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Definitely the time management. I’ve seen things on here about time management before. That was what I struggled most with in my first semester of college, and my GPA reflected it.

138 peter August 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

perfect timing for this series. I am heading to university in September and I don’t know anywhere near all the things I’m going to have to do when I get to university. Thanks a lot

139 Scott Preston August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm


One of the 31 should be knowing how to network to achieve career goals. Too many students these days graduate with no experience in their chosen field and don’t know how to network to learn about opportunities.

Scott Preston,
University of Washington Emergency Management

140 Jonathan August 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I agree with Mr. Franklin.

141 Andrew August 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm

A couple of other suggestions:
1) How to change the ink carterage in a copier/printer
2) How to invest when you’ve got less than $1,000.
3) What to look for in used furniture items from a salvage yard or Salvation Army/Goodwill Store
4) Do you really need to change this fluid in your car?

142 James Walters August 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

To my mild shame, I’m eighteen years old and, presently, fear that I will be calling my father a little too often to help me with home repair jobs. I think basic car and home care subjects should be covered. Things like:

Checking/Replacing oil
Basic car maintenance
Fixing broken pipes
installing a sink/faucet/toilet/water fixture
installing a light fixture/ceiling fan
installing a door knob/dead bolt

Basically, things that wifey might put on the “Honey, do…” list. Imagine the emasculating embarrassment when she asks you, her trusted man, to take care of one of these tasks, and you have to go to the hardware store to ask for help, or worse, sneak off to google advice and how-to articles.

143 Nick August 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

1. laundry: the basics. – so much live and learn from that area for me…especially washing on cold! or your clothes may be a bit smaller next time you wear it!
2. car care: the basics.- cleaning, changing tires, putting gas in car (believe it or not i had to teach a roommate once…), jump starting a car. etc…
3. Food Preperation/cooking: the basics. – simple food sanitation practices and proper cooking techniques come in handy.
4. Sewing 101: i think you already have a recent article over sewing but deffinatly something i use quite a bit woundnt hurt to include it on a similar article! accidents happen especially if your a active guy like i am.
5. Time Managment! my GPA suffered greatly due to lack of this simple skill!
these are some of the basics that i think are a must for an apperance in the list of 31! if only i knew most of these when i moved out i would have saved myself alot of pain!

144 Brian Jones August 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

As a man who got college all wrong and has been in the navy for 10 years, i dont have a topic, just a couple of tips:

1. SLOW DOWN and pay attention.
2. Top-to-bottom, left-to-right. Reading everything you sign and making sure everything is correct WILL save immeasurable headaches
3. The 7 P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

Good luck an remember: nobody is going to do it for you!

145 Brian Jones August 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm

As a man who got college all wrong and has been in the navy for 10 years, i dont have a topic, just a couple of tips:

1. SLOW DOWN and pay attention.
2. Top-to-bottom, left-to-right. Reading everything you sign and making sure everything is correct WILL save immeasurable headaches
3. The 7 P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents P!ss-Poor Performance

Good luck an remember: nobody is going to do it for you!

146 Seth August 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm

-Money management and budgeting
-Social and business networking
-Changing a tire and oil
-Time management
-Laundry (yes, many young men do not know how to do laundry properly. Or often enough.)
-Social etiquette
-Interview skills

147 Greg D August 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Too many comments to read, but I have yet to see anyone say these two:

1. How to clean, dust, vacuum, remove stains, remove odors, etc. Especially cleaning bathrooms. How often to do this.
2. How to decorate a living space to be livable by anyone’s standards. Include information on effective and appealing storage at an affordable price, how to decorate your walls, how to consider lighting and people-movement.

Some might think that these are a bit…unmanly. But it didn’t feel real good when my girlfriend started laughing at my bare white walls and one chair in my apartment the first time she saw it. It doesn’t really convey put-togetheredness, either, to have rings around your toilet bowl and a stinky, overflowing trashcan.

148 Stephen August 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I’m really glad about this upcoming series. I’m headed off to a military school myself. Some things I’m unfamiliar with include airports, car repair, and control of sleeping habits. I think these areas largely appeal to many others as well.

149 Moeregaard August 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Most of this has been mentioned, but here’s what worked for me:

1. Finance, budgeting and the use of credit. The world is full of folks who ruined their credit before graduating from college. Don’t be one of them. Establish credit, but not via credit cards. If you have to finance a vehicle, buy one you can afford that will get you through college and the first few years of your career. Pay it off quickly and take care of it. You’ll be way ahead of the guy who leased a BMW while in college.

2. Basic home and vehicle repairs. I know graduate mechanical engineers who never learned to use a screwdriver. Taking care of your transportation means not having to use this tired excuse for tardiness: “My car broke down.” Being able to fix that drippy faucet in your first apartment will endear you to the landlord and show them that you value their investment.

3. Learn to cook, clean and do laundry–and this means properly ironing and folding your clothes. “Dirty stuff on the floor, clean on the couch” belongs in high school.

4. Get a haircut and either shave properly or grow a proper beard. The grunge thing doesn’t work–unless you’re a software guy. Employers don’t like to be embarrassed by the appearance of their employees.

5. Keep your bathroom and kitchen clean. Nothing screams “slob” to visitors like a sink full of dirty dishes and a ring in the toilet. It’s also healthier when things are clean, too.

6. You may not be able to choose your neighbors, but you can choose your friends. The guy who comes over and takes your last beer, or smokes dope on your patio after you ask him not to, is not your friend. People like this will always bring you down to their level. Pick friends with admirable qualities and emulate them.

7. Finally, be polite to everyone you meet–even the jerks. The world is over-populated with a-holes, so rudeness is far from being a hot commodity.

150 Justin August 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I’d say if you are going to college:
–How to write a research paper (because most of us don’t learn how in high school anymore)
–How to give a presentation

I’d also echo the other posts in skills on improvised cooking, (little) homemaking (since you don’t have a big home yet), finances and time/stress management

Gook luck and God’s speed to those “Heading out on the Highway” for the first time!

151 Dylan August 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Taxes, hands down

152 Classic August 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I read briefly what people have said so forgive me if im repeating somethings. I’m speaking from experience and this maybe be a duh to alot of people but… is not all what you may expect it to be and theres nothing wrong with that. There will be tough times and you will get through them. You actually have to do things you dont like and not like them is not an excuse to never attempt them. They will still be there in the morning whatever it maybe, used oil, bills, relationships, reality, and etc. You have to be involved and perservere everything is hard at first but you never let it make you tap ever and you will suceeed. Doesnt mean you loose it and smack someone or begin breaking things, for those stubborn you will have a hard time until you realize anger is not what will make a great execution in any field. It will only be trouble and goodluck trying to finish whatever you wanted to do it’ll be impossible to recover then. Have a good attitude humble, honest, no ego, but confidence, and an open mind not all of what you will need to do is told and if it is its not always literal. Perfect the ability to learn on your own, you have to learn from your life and you willl be fine. Probably acouple more things too im forgetting. Follow through finish what you begin dont be lazy it doesnt look good and doesnt feel good atleast for me. Also once you do following through feels alot better then ever just hanging somewhere in the middle. Love is complicated give yourself a little break always do the best and put the best forward you and she will thank you and if she doesnt you may want to rethink things….. seriously…..and it will be hard dont fool yourself movies mess with your expectations. Be yourself relationships never mean you become someone else you continue being yourself even in the relationship it just means you enjoy being with someone trully and honestly enjoy spending time talking an actual conversation. You go out and have fun like friends except more. Not lust there is a diffrence. Lust doesnt last anyway. Honestly it doesnt. and so on oh and know a car it’ll look good when you start getting more independent.

153 joe August 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Not sure if you’d call it a skill but somehow number one has to be nutrition. Just because it’s food doesn’t mean you should eat it. Teach the people how to eat. They literally cannot help practicing it for the rest of their lives. It’s eating! How can so many people mess it up! Please AoM, there were way too many fat people at my high school reunion.

154 Max B August 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Definitely consider getting a concealed firearm license and carrying a hand cannon. Never know when you will need it!

155 Matt August 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm

How many college students are badass enough to shave with a brush and double edged razor blades? That by itself should pave your path all the way to BMOC!

156 John August 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Finances. I joined the Army when I was 19 and was pretty capable of taking care of myself but my finances were horrible. I had about $3,000 in savings when I joined but was flat broke within a year. After my first trip to Iraq I had about $10,000 worth of saved up deployment money and once again went through about half of it within a year. Took me a long time to learn how to manage my own finances.

157 Patrick August 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The importances of basic life skills:
- basic car knowledge – boost a battery, the sound of a fuel pump problem, fix a flat, change your own oil, change a wiper blade. Understanding more than what side the fuel cap is.
- how to deal with banks – mortgages, LOC, investments, insurance – term vs. mortgage, set up PAP’s for your bills and Credit Cards – LEARN TO NEGOTIATE it’s in your best interest.

When dealing with people be honest and straight with them. It’s easier to remember the truth then a line of B.S.
Finally learn to pay yourself first, save for a rainy day, your next vacation, your emergency fund,( that fuel pump repair)… CASH is KING.

158 k August 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm

How to responsibly manage a credit card, build good credit, pay the bill, stratigically buy expensive items on credit, and not blow a budget on a whim.
How to cook a meal out of fresh ingredients, so as to minimize sodium and fat intake and maximize nutritional value, as well as dollar value.

159 Pepe August 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm

1. Try your best to never stand idly by while anyone is bullied. That does not mean fight, most often simply being vocal about how the bully most likely didn’t like it when it was done to him. (and someone more powerful than him, at some point, bullied him.
2. Never bully anyone.

160 Steve August 1, 2012 at 10:51 pm

How to get your son to learn what you know. When I grew up I watched my dad do everything and now I can do anything. 31 days and skills can’t ever cover everything I learned how to do from my dad. The only lesson my dad ever lectured on was go to school and be better than him, along the way to grad school and very high paying jobs I learned how to do everything he could do. Now I am not afraid to break down on a road trip, fix the heat, or a leaking gas line, I will never be stranded, or panic in a bad situation because I can fix anything. How do we whit collar professionals pass all we learned from blue collar dads along to our sons to give them the same skills we have and ensure that no matter what they are never helpless or clueless.

161 Douglas August 2, 2012 at 12:14 am

1. How to shut off the water behind the toilet and under the sink.
2. How to keep your landlord honest.
3. How to curb impulse spending.
4. How to get enough sleep.
5. How to demand a refund.

162 Luc August 2, 2012 at 2:20 am

Yes, Yes, Yes… Thank you so much. I ship off to college on the 19th, and this is perfect for me.

163 Juanting August 2, 2012 at 3:08 am

impulse spending, nice! also something on volunteering.

164 Andrew August 2, 2012 at 8:29 am

I’d like to learn how to concentrate when you can’t.

165 John August 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

First: How to pack a lunch. It’s a huge monetary savings over eating out, and a big time saver during the work day.

Second: I agree with Jeff – Don’t stare at the sidewalk while you’re walking on it. Or put another way, how to be confident (and maybe a little proud) about the huge step you’re taking into adulthood by striking out on your own, and project that confidence.

166 Michie D August 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

1. Money management and budgeting
2. Cooking
3. Organizing your bedroom
4. Keeping things clean
5. Cooking
6. Time management
7. Cooking

167 Chris Deering August 2, 2012 at 11:20 am

Brett and Kate,
My suggestion for a topic is teach how to haggle/barter to get what you want. Like you I grew up in Mid-Class America where when you wanted something you went to Wal-mart and paid their “Low” price. After getting married to a woman who grew up poorer than I did and now with shows like Barter Kings, I wish I had learned long ago not to just take things on face value. In a time of shaky economy and a college kid already living on a shoe-string budget I think the ability to get what you need for little or no money is a very good skill to have. I’m now learning that I can trade my computer skills for auto repair and can convince a store manager that a ding on this table should qualify it for a discount. Being successful need not be based on how much money you have but what you can get, no matter the circumstances, and that’s Manly.

168 Scott A August 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

How to choose and nurture friendships and relationships.

If we are fortunate and purposeful about this, we will have a handful of good friends in our lifetime. But we have to learn skills necessary for creating friendships, and nurturing those friendships.

We will need those relationships in our life.

Take a look at who you are first. I, for example, am a husband, a father, a brother, a friend, a son, an uncle, a teacher. There may be a few more. Each label that applies to me also focuses my attention and energy to a certain group of people or individuals. On e I see these relationships, I ask what I am doing to nurture those relationships. I set doable goals for giving myself to those relationships. Some take more time, effort and frequency than others.

There is so much more that can be said about this subject. It’s needed. All of us need this one.

169 josh August 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

1. how to buy groceries
2. how to negotiate
3. how to make love to a woman so she never forgets you

170 Eric August 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

- How to back a car or truck with a trailer or boat attached to it.

- How to engage your local municipal government on an issue you find important for your community.

- How to build situational awareness.

171 Stefn777 August 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

How to keep them safe, which ones to keep permanently (whether at home or a bank box), and when to throw the others away. I have a LOT of papers I need to sort through; and even at 48 years old, I don’t know exactly which ones need to be tossed!

172 Stephen August 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

How to change the oil in a car.

Been wanting to know this one for awhile.

173 Mohammed Akif August 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm

How to cheer up someone, and support friends’ decisions instead of criticizing and giving arbitrary and unsolicited advice.

Other mannerisms such as knowing when to keep quiet in a conversation.

Please avoid ridiculously simple things that involve no deeper meaning or consequences like “how to tie a tie” that someone else suggested. A quick Google search will give me much more information on that than you can cover in a day.

I’m saying this because I’m 17 and this series will be pretty big for me and I want to thank you in advance for writing it.

174 Stengel99 August 2, 2012 at 9:51 pm

How about an article on basic meals every man should know how to prepare? I’m thinking in particular of dishes that could be prepared in a dorm room (with a crock pot or a hot plate) or by someone who just moved into an apartment and owns very little decent cookware.

In my own college days, I ate the usual staples: mac & cheese, ramen, scrambled eggs, etc. — and I got tired of all of it but was too cheap or too distracted to learn to cook anything else. Since then, I’ve learned to cook a ton of healthy recipes that I easily could have used back then.

I also agree with the following above suggestions:

- How to change oil (or basic car maintenance for that matter). I recently discovered what I dunce I am for overpaying for filter replacements.

- How to do laundry

- How to do small talk. I know this one sounds silly, but I grew up with a pretty close knit group of friends, and then went away to college on my own and had a hard time making new friends. I’m convinced that my problem wasn’t that I wasn’t likeable, but that I didn’t know how to make the transition from someone being a total stranger to being an acquaintance. (A myth I had to learn to bust: Not everyone has to become a close friend; they can just be an acquaintance you enjoy talking with casually.)

Great blog. Keep it up!

175 JT August 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

One I would suggest is to learn what auxiliary qualifications you might need after college and how to get them. I put myself through college, got a degree in a STEM field businesses cannot find enough people to fill available vacancies in, and have not gotten a job because everyone wants handfuls of certifications. The few that are offered free I have gotten and the rest I am trying to get the cash for but it would have been nice to know they were required before graduation.

176 Dan G August 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

I think this will be a fantastic series. Some things I want to know more about:

1) Budgeting
2) Tax preparation: what sorts of things do you need to have on hand for taxes
3) Apartment-renting / Roommate-finding tips
4) Moving out: not just for college, but also permanently
5) Finding deals: finding/using coupons, etc.
6) Car maintenance: what needs to be done, how frequently, and where to find reminders (like the windshield sticker that tells you to take your car in after so-many miles)
7) Thoughts on credit/loan
8) Tips on finding buddies in a new town

177 Jeff August 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm

How to manage money
How to manage time (and being on time)


178 Jeff August 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Critical Thinking Skills: How to watch the news or read the paper and discern between facts and editorializing especially as per politics…How to form an opinion of one’s own considering opposing ‘sides’ points of view. This is a tough one, but everyone should learn how to think critically, and very few are able.

179 Jose Gomez August 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Six Rules of Success” graduation speech at USC was very inspiring.

Create your own reality. Work hard and you can have whatever it is that you want.

180 Keith Brawner August 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

There are lots of good suggestions above, but I disagree with many of them. I think that this series of things should be focused on the following example:
– Student/Wage earner that has just obtained his first apartment.

And it should focus on the things that will sink him if he does not succeed.

As such, something like “how to go grocery shopping one one week of needs, and avoid eating at McDonalds/Chilis” is very valuable, and “how to do basic AC repair” is probably not.

Laundry and Checking accounts are good first things to cover. I would recommend subsequent articles on:
– Savings accounts (mention how often ‘unexpected expenses’ like needing a car repair come up)
– Budgeting (spending less than you earn, what a 20K/year, 40K/year, and 60K/year budget might look like)
– How to hand-wash dishes
– Good roommate etiquette
– How to network
– 10 simple dinners that will get you through the month (total cost/meal under $3.50)
– How to clean the things that only occasionally need cleaning
– How to stop a household appliance problem before it starts
– The idea that every item you own has to be maintained
– retirement planning
– doing the fluids in your car
– how to demand a refund (and why you should)
– how to not be conned
– how to dress like an adult
– how to command respect

181 John August 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I’m really looking forward to this series. I’ll be heading from college to university in the next year, so this will really prepare me for that.

182 David August 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

How to sort laundry/do laundry and how to fold clothes so they don’t get wrinkled

183 Randy Higgins August 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

I think one of the most important things to teach a young man who is heading out on his own is his personal finances. I wish I was taught that. It didn’t come from my parents nor did it come from any school or college…in fact I’m just beginning to understand more about my finances at the age of 50. My training of finances became with “Rich Dad Poor Dad” book! We need more information like this!

184 Dr. Kevin Keough August 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

1) emotional and social intelligence
-research indicates that “EQ” is 4 times better predictor of success in life than IQ. IQ can’t be raised but EQ and SQ can be raised through the roof by learning basic skills building modules
2) Relationship/ marriage skills the nature and quality of our relationships dictate our happiness. We are not taught anything about the critical and fundamental communication skills known to predict success in relationships with significant others.
3) Resiliency/optimism training-again fundamental life skills not taught anywhere but necessary every day of our lives
4) “Relaxation response” or belly breathing. As children we breathe from our bellies but as adults we tend to breathe from the chest….shallow breathing. Re-learning to breathe in a natural way stimulates several cranial nerves esp the vagal nerve that initiates the body’s natural relaxation response
5) Self-defense-it is essential for men to become proficient in self-defense (physical-psychological-social/relational). We have a responsibility to protect ourselves and innocent/vulnerable people from predators. It makes it much easier to move through life knowing one is prepared for the unexpected. It is impossible to overstate the importance of learning the “martial arts of everyday life” aka defending ourselves from people that attempt to assault us on a psychological or social level…….happens virtually every day. Also, we need to know how to protect ourselves from ourselves; too often we beat ourselves down without awareness.
6) the Four Cardinal Virtues…….
7) Meta-cognitive skills……
………….all for the moment.

185 Gabriel August 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

For me, the most interesting skills
-How to manage time (mainly about internet or games)
-How to introduce yourself to strangers (very important to shy people)
-How to keep a conversation (not just the most basic introduction and walking away)

186 Gabriel Bellini August 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

How to earn money when you study and date

187 Corey August 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Finances. More specifically:

- how to avoid debt

- how to pay bills

- how credit cards work

- budgeting/saving skills

188 Paul August 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Register to vote, and keep your registration updated with each address change.

189 Haydn August 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I have to say this series is very timely. I just graduated college, moved to the city for my Master’s program with my fiancee, and my parents moved to the other side of the country on the same day I moved. I thought I was independent before these past weeks, and I’m realizing how much I was kidding myself. It’s time to stop testing the waters and jump right in and that’s exactly what this experience has been so far. Thanks for the pick me ups along the way.

190 Jacob August 9, 2012 at 7:51 am

basic vehical upkeep

what kind of oil
air filter clean or change
tire rotation
starting problems
a emergancy tool bag
and anything DIY that can save you money and look like a hero to you chick

191 Eli August 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

This looks like it will be a very helpful series. I’m 21 and my parents have made my life way too easy growing up. They pay most of my bills except for what I can afford with my job, and when I consult them on anything they usually take it upon themselves to just do whatever it is for me, rather than teach me how to handle it myself. That said, I know I don’t have an excuse considering all the information that can be freely and anonymously accessed on the Internet. I trust that this will be an excellent starting point for learning to be independent.

192 Matt August 17, 2012 at 12:28 am

Steps to shopping and eating healthy.

193 michelle August 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

please encourage men to make their own calls. i work in a doctor’s office, and the moms/wives are calling for them. be a man and call yourself!!!

194 Rohan R August 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

A great idea, im heading off to college and this is a great way to interact and give back to the younger generation

195 Tricia November 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

Grocery shopping! I witnessed several young men shopping yesterday and, judging by their purchases, they are living together independent of their parents–and know how to cook. The thing that got me was that they didn’t know how to shop for the ingredients. They know what they needed for their meals, sure, but they didn’t know that some produce costs more because of what it is or where it came from, nor did they know some produce is priced by weight. They didn’t know the differences in flour (AP, self-rising)…etc. It’s great that they know how to cook, but if they don’t know how to get the most for their money at the grocery store, or even how things are priced and why then we have done them a great disservice. And their food budget is not going to last.

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