Doing your tax, upping your super, clearing a drain: why don't we learn these things?

Thanks to our brand partner, HESTA

Because let’s face it – when was the last time you used algebra?

I couldn’t tell you how many times I muttered the phrase “when am I ever going to use this in real life?” to my parents as they stood over me like drill sergeants checking every ‘X’ and ‘Y’ in my homework or while sitting in some inane high school class.

Working out the square root of something, memorising the periodic table – all of it seemed so useless at the time, and not much has changed in the years since.

So I say screw algebra. Screw geography, trigonometry and physics. Most of all, screw hours of homework I was forced to finish when what I should have been learning was:

1. How to fill out a tax return.

It seems like everyone in my life knows how to fill out a tax return except me. I don’t know where they learned this incredible information, but I know it definitely wasn’t from school, or home, or by some magical osmosis.

Of course, you can take your tax return to an accountant and PAY to get your money back, but that seems counterproductive to me. The ATO have instructions online about how to fill out your refund form, but it gets tricky when you work three jobs and freelance on the side, while also needing to claim a bunch of money for petrol.

The best way to do it, if the online instructions are too tricky — get one of your smart, tax-savvy friends to do it for you. And while they’re at it, get them to teach you how to do it too.

2. How to handle a nasty break up.

There’s no tried-and-tested way to get over a break up, but a class on the different emotions you’re definitely going to experience would have been so much more helpful than fifth period physics.

Everyone’s different, but my personal way of dealing with break ups (or rejection, or sad feelings in general) is to have a good cry. Grab a sad movie, enjoy all the comfort food you need, and just cry. Then pick yourself up, call your best friends and start to look forward.

3. How to clear an s-bend.

Knowing how to clear an s-bend is an essential life skill (unless you’re lucky enough to live with a plumber).

If chemicals don’t work to clear a blocked drain, clearing the s-bend is your next step. Grab a bucket, get a screwdriver and separate the s-bend from the rest of the sink. You’ll need to unscrew the bolts on either side of the s-bend to remove it. You can then clean it out easily and screw it back on, while praying this fixes your blocked drain.

4. How to maximise your super.

If you were anything like me and had approximately six different super accounts set up due to all of your casual jobs, it’s so important to learn how to maximise your superannuation so you’re in a better financial position when you retire.


Which is where HESTA comes in. It’s the industry super fund dedicated to the health and community services industry and more than 80 percent of its’ members are female – so they understand what women need from their super.

Hot tip: by putting away $20 a week (we can all find that can’t we?) you can make a huge impact on your future.

There are two ways to put more money towards your future – either before or after your income is taxed, and that decision is based on what you earn. First step is to talk to your employer about whether they can set up a regular before-tax contribution into your super.

5. How to cook.

I can make exactly one dish – pasta, thanks to a tutorial from my brother six years ago. If I had been taught how to cook and not just rely on the sausage rolls sold at the school canteen for my daily nutrients, I’m fairly sure I’d be a better person. Luckily, there are a few ways you can get around being a non-cooker.

Buy a super simple cookbook, Google some student-friendly meals, and don’t be scared. Having the right attitude is the first step. And just give it a try.

6. How to get stains out of clothes.

One day, back in year 11, as I was sitting in class learning about algebra, a pen exploded in my pocket, leaving me with a nasty ink stain on my uniform and my thigh. I went home that day and handed the stained clothing to my mum.

But as I’ve learned – not at school… really should have taken home economics! – you can’t do that when you’re living in a shared house as a 20-something. So for stains, soak the clothing for 24 hours and it should come right out. If it doesn’t, seek professional help in the form of a trusted dry cleaner. Or just call your mum. And just for an added extra – the best way to get red wine out of clothing is to splash white wine on the stain. The white wine lifts the red right out.

You’re welcome.

What life skill do you wish were taught at school?

Okay chefs. We know you like to cook pasta, what chef doesn’t? So here are some scrummy suggestions for you:

Want more? How about:

6 ways to overhaul your life (minus the cheesy quotes).

The best way to spend $20 a week.

The 10 crucial life skills they don’t teach you at school (and how to teach yourself).