Math You Will Actually Use Someday

Math You May Use one Day

If you've ever wondered why you need to learn math, you're not alone. Pretty much everyone who's ever been frustrated by math has wondered when they'll use it as an adult.

Once you get a little older, these things will become clearer on their own. Unfortunately, by then it could be too late. Math is something you have to learn in order, and if you give up now, you'll have a very tough time catching up later.

For that reason, we've compiled a list of places you'll actually need the skills you're learning now. It doesn't cover everything, of course, but it should help you see that it's not totally pointless.

To keep things simple, we've only covered some of the most common situations that nearly any adult will face at some point. That math you may need for your career is entirely different, and could be much more complicated, depending on your career choice. For more information on math and careers, check out the Math In Careers Database, created by XPMath in association with NASA.


Math for Shopping

If you can't do at least a bit of basic math in your head, you'll pay for it hundreds of times over as an adult. Check out these examples to see what we mean.

Example 1: Suppose you have need 60 ounces of chili beans for a recipe, and the store offers 15-ounce cans for $1 or 20-ounce cans for $1.50. If you just blindly assumed that the bigger cans would be the best deal, you'd lose $.50.

It may not sound like much, but what if the same thing happens when you buy your hamburger, tomatoes, bread, crackers, and peanut butter? You'll be making decisions like this on a weekly basis for the rest of your life, and that means that little errors could add up to thousands of dollars over time.

Example 2: You're getting ready to buy some new curtains and bedding for your home, and you have a coupon for $15 off your next purchase of $50 or more. You also see that the store is running a special for 20% off orders over $100. Because most stores will let you use just one promotion on an order, you'll have to choose the best deal.

In this example, we'll assume that your order is $140. By using the coupon for $15 off, you'd pay $125 plus tax. If you used the 20% off deal and saved the coupon for later, you'd save $28 and pay just $111 plus tax. By doing a little bit of math in your head, you would have saved $14.

Example 3: You need to get new tennis shoes for each of your 3 kids, and you have $100 to spend. Before you head to the store, you'll want to think about how much you can spend on each pair.

To start, you'll have to account for the sales tax you'll be paying at the store. We'll assume it's 8% for our example.

$100 – 8% = $92

So now, you know that you have $92 to spend. To figure out the amount you can spend on each pair, you'll have to do a bit of simple algebra. Below, we use “3” because we need 3 pairs of shoes, and “X” to represent the amount we can spend on each pair.

3 X = $92

When you divide $92 by 3, you'll find that you can spend no more than $30.66 (on average) for each pair.

More Examples:

Beyond these basic day-to-day shopping examples, there are dozens of other situations you'll encounter where understanding math is essential.