June 23, 2014

7 Life and Money Lessons You Learned in School

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It's so easy to think about which subjects seemed like such a waste of time in school – those topics that we never use during our daily adult lives. Once we left high school, we never again diagrammed a sentence or solved a complex algebra equation. But there were some skills we picked up that actually do continue to serve us well beyond homeroom. They are lessons that are worth taking a moment to remind ourselves of, to improve our lives and our financial situation.

Here are a few of our favorite lessons learned from school.

1. Don’t be tardy.
Being late to school was not only frowned upon, it came with consequences. The more often you were tardy, the greater the punishment, such as detention after school. Likewise, penalties for being late with your credit card payment are swift and harsh. Some cards may give you a break the very first time or provide a flexible payment option, but usually you’ll pay a late fee and rack up interest charges every day that your payment is overdue. Just as you were expected to walk into school before the bell rang, you have to pay those bills – and understand the consequences if you are late.

2. Don’t rely on the Cliffs Notes.
We bet you were tempted to use the Cliffs Notes instead of reading Moby Dick or Lord of the Flies. Anyone who says they didn’t at least consider looking for those yellow booklets at some point is lying. But teachers were well aware of that temptation and were ready to call you out for taking shortcuts. When choosing any service – whether it’s a cable company, a credit card, or a warranty on a new car – you’ve got to read the fine print. Cliffs Notes are OK as a starting point – but shortcuts to being informed could harm you in the long run.

3. Beware of bullies.
School bullying has become a hot topic in recent years because of high-profile tragedies and social media. But we all know it’s existed as long as schools have been in session. And it doesn’t necessarily stop when we graduate. Our bosses and peers in the workplace can become a dominating force as they move their way up the corporate ladder or just try to feel important. But constant snide remarks and harassment are not tolerated – or shouldn’t be – in the workplace. If you think your company has a problem with a workplace bully, identify how you might be enabling this person and take steps to interrupt the pattern.

4. Plan for your future.
Remember those tedious sessions with the high school counselor talking about colleges and profiling your career options? While you might not have recognized the value of this type of planning in high school, it could be invaluable for your post-career life. Strategize for your retirement, starting with a primer on figuring out how much you need to save now to have a comfortable retirement later in life.

5. Give yourself recess.
For schoolchildren, recess can be a great tool for renewing energy and getting a fresh start in the classroom. But somehow, after elementary school, the importance of a break and play time gets lost. When we’re adults, play can be perceived as unproductive and even immature. However, psychiatrists say that play is a powerful tool and can be an effective catalyst for productivity and happiness.

6. Memorize, memorize.
While memorization might have been one of your least favorite tasks in school, a good memory serves to make everyday life much easier, from remembering to pick up the dry cleaning to recalling your boss’ kids’ names. The hippocampus part of your brain serves as its librarian, organizing and retrieving appropriate information. You can use these tips to keep your memory sharp.

7. Do your homework.
After a long day at school, the last thing you wanted to do was more schoolwork. It was hard to get motivated, but it was a fact of your school-age life. Those who got their homework done got the better grades and did better on their tests. Carry over the habit to how you look for deals and credit cards, and you will be rewarded with the ones that are best suited for your needs. And we make it easy: Whether you’re looking for cash back, airline points, or good balance transfer deals, you can use our resources to do your homework.

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