25 Life Skills You Should Master by Age 30

Dana Covit

Adulthood! Whether or not you’re officially there or still dipping your toes in, there are certain life skills that all of us—no matter our marital or homeownership status—should strive to attain. Simple things like recalling a name the very first time you’ve been introduced to someone or sending a thank-you note in the mail really do make all the difference. So, what are the most important skills that we think you should master before you hit the big 3-0? Read on to find out.

  1. Keeping a calendar of your commitments. As we get older, our brains become increasingly crowded with things we need—and want!—to remember. Do yourself, and those you’ve made plans with, the favor of keeping a calendar that you actually look at regularly.
  2. Timely gift-giving. Not a week later, certainly not a month later. We know, we know. You’re searching for the perfect piece. Start your search earlier, and arrive to that birthday party, housewarming, or whatever gathering you’re attending gift in hand.
  3. Wrapping said gifts. Wrap it your gifts. Throw a bow on it. Add a card. If you’re craft-impaired, see if the store you’re buying it from offers complementary gift wrap. Many do!
  4. Making dinner reservations in advance. Don’t wait till Friday night to browse OpenTable. Keep an eye on approaching dates and get everything sorted in advance so you’re not scrambling last-minute when you want a great meal or a guest is in town.
  5. Sending thank-you cards. No, a text or email does not qualify. Having a set of blank thank-you notes for a variety of occasions—and stamps!—is majorly adult.
  6. Handling your healthcare properly. Prescriptions, doctors appointments, reimbursements, oh my! Scheduling your own meetings and managing your finances kind of means you have arrived at adulthood. 
  7. Remembering names the first time around. Is anything more surprising than when someone who you’ve only met once recalls your name? Don’t lie: It’s impressive! Try repeating a new acquaintance’s name back to him or her or thinking of a funny story about the name to help you remember.
  8. Tipping properly. Whether you’re traveling and need to tip the bellman or you’re getting a blowout at the local salon, tipping varies depending on service. Make sure to get it right by consulting this list.
  9. Taking care of your clothes. Iron the clothes that need to be ironed. Get clothes dry-cleaned whose tags call for it. Hang the correct items to dry. They’ll last longer, and you’ll look better; we promise.
  10. Saying “no.” Turning down all of those “shoulds” will help you focus on the things that really matter. 
  11. Being on time, consistently. By now you should know if you have a bad case of chronic tardiness. Stop using it as a crutch, and learn what it takes for you to arrive on time.
  12. Having business cards in your wallet. You never know who you’ll meet! It’s often the connections we make out and about in the real world that yield amazing opportunities.
  13. Exercising self-control. Whether it’s resisting impulse buys or one drink too many on a school night, being able to rein it in when necessary is a good idea if you want to behave more like an adult.
  14. Keeping, and sticking to, your to-do lists. Your adult to-do list is more than just a place for you to scribble down all of the things you need to get done. You actually have to do them.
  15. Paying bills on time. Another thing to add to that ole planner! Bonus skill: having enough money to automate the paying of said bills.
  16. Staying on budget. There are countless personal financing apps out there to help you stay on track with this. Download them. Stick to them. Save yourself the stress and hardship.
  17. Having at least the basics in your kitchen at all times. A refrigerator with some fresh fruit and vegetables, plus the dry-goods basics, will ensure you are not eating cereal in bed every night. Goals, we know.
  18. Following through. Have set plans? Told a friend you’ll help with something? Don’t flake! An important facet of this one is simply not over-committing yourself (see #10) so you don’t have to flake on your commitments.
  19. Taking care of small home projects. Installing curtain rods, hanging shelves and—more importantly—knowing what tools to use to ensure they don’t come crashing down are something we should all strive for. Yes, we live in the age of Task Rabbit, but we try and learn!
  20. Paying your taxes on time. Even if you’re a total amateur in the world of taxes, there’s no time like the present time to start learning. Learn the basic terminology, get organized, stay on schedule, and seek the necessary help well before April 15.
  21. Planning for your financial future. Are you adding money to your 401(k)? What about investing? You should be! Start saving in your 20s and you’ll be way better off further down the line.
  22. Sticking to whatever type of exercise works for you. By now you’ve hopefully suspended, cycled, and pliéd your way through enough classes that you hopefully know whether you’re a classic “going for a run” kind of person or are down to try something new every other weekend.
  23. Exercising basic culinary techniques. From grilling a delicious steak to making the perfect go-to vinaigrette, mastering the essentials will give you the tools you’ll need to kill it in the kitchen for years to come.
  24. Impressing with a few signature dishes. You should have a handful of signature dishes that work well for group gatherings, intimate dinners, and solo feasts and are reliably delicious. These dishes don’t have to be anything fancy—they’re meant to be effortless and versatile!
  25. Being ready for last-minute drop-in guests. Guest bedroom or not, having the necessary fixings for last-minute guests and being able to set them up for a comfortable stay kind of feels like cushy adulthood to us.

Scroll to shop some items that will help you on your way.

What else would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments!

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