# Real-World Math Skills People Use Every Day

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Although math problems can seem divorced from reality, math is actually incredibly useful in daily life. Math is used in cooking and baking, shopping for groceries, deciding on new appliances, and personal finances.

In the kitchen, knowledge of fractions and proportions is invaluable. Math is useful to alter recipes to one’s needs. If a recipe is for four servings, but you need six, you’ll use math to figure out the new amounts of each ingredient. If you’re missing a particular measuring spoon or cup, you can use fractions to ensure an ingredient’s correct amount is used.

Aside from simple addition to track spending, the most useful math skill for grocery shopping is understanding unit price. A large tub of yogurt may be several dollars and an individual cup only \$0.50, but the large tub’s price per ounce is almost guaranteed to be lower. Grocery trips are more cost-effective when one understands that buying soda by the bottle is about half the price of buying it in six-packs.

Of course, for some purchases, cheaper is better, but if one wants an item to last a long time, it is often wiser to invest in a high-quality, more expensive option. If you’re looking for boots, you could buy a \$12 pair at the nearest big-box store, but they may wear out over a season. You could instead buy a \$100 pair of shoes that may last for years. Dividing the cost by the number of uses of the item goes a long way to helping a person understand the true cost. Buying an inexpensive pair of shoes twice a year adds up to a lot more money spent on footwear than simply spending more on better quality shoes.

Handling our finances requires a lot of math. One part of banking that often confuses people is inverse operations. This can be used to determine change and balance a checkbook. A bit of financial math that often gets people into trouble is understanding interest. Knowing how debt works can save one a lot of turmoil.

Math is far more than something to learn to pass a test; it is a vital part of our daily lives.

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Jeff Horton is a Duluth-based educator, superintendent, technology enthusiast, and believer in representation. Learn more @ http://jeffhorton.info/.