Sometimes I start a running list of the things I've learned the hard way. If you're anything like me, you'll learn it the same way. I'm hoping you're more like your Daddy & just take note.
1. Everything needs a place. Every bill and pencil and Lego. Every time I bring something into the house I take a minute to think about where it belongs and where I'd be most likely to look for it. Then, I put it there. Every time. Without fail.
2. Make all your bills due on the same day. People will totally work with you on this. Every time you open an account just call the 800 number (do they still have 800 numbers in the future when you're reading this?) and change the due date. You'll never have to worry about late payments and you'll never need one of those horrible bill organizers. I make bills due on the 15th, and I pay the mortgage on the 1st. Easy.
3. Have a plan for when things go smoothly. Also, have a plan b, for when things don't. If you're anything like me, you'll spend a lot of time worrying about "what if." If you don't address the things that scare you, they'll make you nuts--things like: what if I lose my job? what if the car breaks down? what if nobody picks me for softball? Sit yourself down and talk it out. With us, or with your wife or with your dog.
4. You don't have to know how to fix everything. But you need to have fixed enough stuff that you're not scared to take things apart and see what's what. Your Daddy is doing this now. He wasn't particularly handy growing up, so he's just getting his chops. But this morning he fixed the washing machine. And tomorrow he'll fix the water heater. Every success adds to his confidence that he can do it, whatever it is. It'll work that way for you, too.
5. Learn how to bbq. Even if you never learn how to cook anything else, being good at bbq will bring you glory at every summer party, and will likely get you a pass on everything else.
6. But if you do learn how to cook, that would be awesome.
7. Every weekend, write down your menu for the following week. Keep the recipes nearby and take inventory in the pantry and fridge as you review them. Write down any groceries you'll need as you go.
8. Don't buy imitation leather.
9. Write the thank you notes within 7 days. Same day is better, but seven days is the outside limit. Any longer and you'll start to wonder if they're really necessary, and start making excuses about how nobody really sends thank you notes anymore, anyway.
10. That said, it's never too late to send a thank you card. Seriously, even if you totally forgot and it's been a year. Send the card.
11. Most people don't mind seeing other people chew gum. But some people (me, among them) will be unable to talk to (or even look at) you if they see you chewing. Its impossible to predict who's who. So just avoid the situation all together by not chewing gum in public.
12. A walk before dinner is always nice.
13. Good manners centers mainly on kindness. Etiquette centers mainly on making people feel inferior. Focus on manners.
14. Everyone likes a good pirate joke.