Cast your mind back… way back… to your school days. Those days may be yonks ago now, but you likely still remember a thing or two you learned in the classroom, right?
For example, you may recall your teacher’s words as they stood in front of you and uttered “You’re not always going to have a calculator in your pocket, you know?” (Um, it’s called a smartphone, miss!) You may also remember learning about the Tudors, longshore drift, and Shakespeare. It’s all sounding very familiar right about now, right?
Now, I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of that stuff does not get you anywhere in your day to day life. I seriously doubt that every single day, you need to remember which of Henry’s wives he had killed in the right order. (Unless, of course, you happen to be a historian specialising in English kings, this is useless knowledge.)
What may have been better than filling our little heads with all this nonsense would have been teaching us some real-life skills and giving us knowledge that we can actually use. There are so many things — financial and otherwise — that many of us just don’t understand. Despite being “adults,” there’s a whole load of us who don’t get the world of taxes, savings, and *gasps* credit cards.
So, with just that in mind, we thought it may be wise to take a look at all the things that we’ve missed along the way. Here are ten lessons that we 100% should have learned in school and how you can learn all about them right here, right now.
1. How the tax system really works
Okay, let’s start with a hard one here. Taxes. Yes, they scare the best of us. Still, understanding what tax you should and should not be paying is essential. After all, the very last thing you want is to end up paying more than you need to. For all you know, you may never get that money back. That’s the last thing you want.
Sadly, they don’t teach us about taxes in school, which means that it’s pretty much something that we have to learn for ourselves. There are loads of resources online, though, that will help along the way. On the government website, there’s a whole load of information on how much you should be paying on the money you earn. It doesn’t hurt to take a quick sneaky peek at it.
Check out: How to get a uniform tax refund and UK tax calculator
2. How to haggle for things
Haggling is a real art form. If you want to avoid paying over the odds for the things that you buy, you need to learn how to get this right. The idea is that you learn how to negotiate for a better deal and, ultimately, end up saving yourself a whole load of money. What could be better than that? If you’re new to the art, here are a few tips that will help:
- Have an ideal price in mind before you start
- Never insult the seller or their product
- Be willing to walk away if you need to
- Explain why you want a reduced fee
- Be clear and yet friendly in your approach
If you follow these rules to start with, you should find that it’s easy to understand how to get the best possible deal. One of the gravest mistakes that people tend to make is going in too aggressive to start with. Don’t do it.
3. What a credit score is (and why it matters)
Whether you’re getting a loan or applying for a mortgage, your credit score matters. It really does. This is the bar that lenders measure you by when it comes to how trustworthy you are. The number will be used to decide whether you can be trusted when it comes to making the repayment dates. If you don’t have a good score (or, worse, no score at all), you could find that it’s very difficult to get a loan of any sort!
You build up a credit score by making payments in a timely manner. For example, if you pay an electric bill, every fee you pay on time will go towards boosting your rating. It’s that simple. If you want to find out what your credit rating is, there’s an easy way to do so online. It may be worth finding out!
Read: How to check your credit rating
4. How to save for a mortgage deposit
While we’re on the subject of borrowing money, are you planning on getting a mortgage? Understanding how to save for a deposit is crucial if you want to get a mortgage. Spoiler: It takes longer than you might imagine to get that money together. The good news is that you may be able to get a mortgage with 10% or 5% of the overall value of the home. So, if you’re looking to buy a house for £100,000, you may only need £10,000 or £5,000 saved up. Of course, that all depends on whether you meet the criteria for the lender.
Check out: How to check if a house is right for you
Check out: Which? Mortgage calculator
5. How credit cards actually work
How do credit cards actually work? There are few people that understand this at all and yet we all willing sign up to them. The truth is that we should understand interest rates and what we’re going to pay back before we end up getting a card. Having one may mean that we can buy what we want, but it also means that we have to pay extra cash for that luxury. One of the things that few people know about is interest rates and how they differ from card to card. If you want to be sensible with your money, you need to make sure that you shop around before you end up getting a card.
Check out: A simple guide to credit cards
6. How to open a private pension
Pensions may be a boring topic, but understanding them is essential. You may already have a pension at work, but opening up a private one may not be such a bad idea. But wait just a minute, where should you start? Well, as with anything, you need to do your research first. Luckily, most comparison sites help you to look at your options and figure out which of the services out there is right for you. Remember, shopping around is certain to get you the best deal when it comes to this money issue.
Check out: This psychological money-saving hack
Check out: Info about private pensions
7. Why you should check your statements
The amount of people who don’t check their bank statements on a regular basis is shocking. According to stats from last year’s National Student Money Week, a third of 18-24 year olds are too scared to check their bank accounts. While the fear of facing your own finances may seem totally normal, it could be doing you a disservice. There’s nothing positive about ignoring the state of your money.
The fact of the matter is that if you want to keep on top of your finances, you need to make sure that you check them on a regular basis. After all, there’s no way that you will know how to start saving without knowing where you stand with your money. The sooner you get on top of it all, the better.
8. How much you should earn at different ages
We all know what we’d ideally like to earn (millions, please!) but do you understand how much you should be earning at various ages? While you may not realise it, there’s actually a study from Instant Offices, which evaluated what you the average person earns at various ages. You might want to use this as a measure so that you understand what type of salary you should be looking for at different times during your life. After all, the very last thing you want is to undersell yourself for no reason other than not understanding what your work and time is worth.
Check out: How much you should earn for your age
9. How to ask for a promotion/raise
While we’re on the subject of salaries, asking for a promotion and raise can be one of the hardest things that you ever need to do. Still, often enough, if you don’t tell people what you want or expect from them, you just won’t get it. If you believe that you deserve a promotion (and have good reason to ask for a raise), you eventually need to bite the bullet.
Taking those steps towards getting what you need from your work will not only make you happier, but it will also help you move forward in your career. Here are some of the things that you need to consider:
- What skills do you have to offer here?
- How much can the company afford?
- Will you put in extra hours?
- How much do you want?
- Is it the right time to ask?
Considering those questions will mean that you have a handle on the situation and that you approach it well. After all, you want to be armed with all the best tools before you ask that all-important question. Go ahead — ask your boss!
10. When to ask for a refund
Finally, here’s a subject we just so happen to love. When you’re paying money for things, you deserve to get a certain level of quality for your money. If you feel that the product and/or service you’ve bought is not what you wanted, you can ask for a refund.
Understanding your rights here will help you have confidence in saying that something is less than satisfactory. Not enough people ask for their money back when they really deserve it. Don’t be one of those people.
Check out: When should you complain about something you bought?