4 Valuable Life Lessons (That We Never Follow)

Whenever we hear some tired old platitude designed to teach us how to be responsible adults who can be left alone for 10 minutes without selling half our hair for rent money while eating the other half for sustenance, we tend to roll our eyes. After all, how much truth and power can some silly one-liner, useful only for those too lazy to come up with an original idea, actually have?

A lot, as it turns out. People utter these borderline cliches for a reason, one we tend not to realize until we've royally fucked up their intended lessons. Sadly, most of us need to kick our own asses once, twice, or a hundred times before we finally realize ...

#4. You Get What You Pay For

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If you have only a few bucks available but really need to pick up a few things for the house, it can be extremely tempting to cut corners and buy a $2 pack of generic batteries, or a tiny $20 vacuum, or a $30 "dozens of games already inside" bootleg gaming console.

Via Game Informer
Who needs Skyrim anyway? This baby's got FOUR TENNIS GAMES.

Unfortunately, not a single one of these will satisfy your needs longer than maybe a minute. The batteries will die out almost immediately, the vacuum will overheat after an extra gnarly dust bunny gets stuck in the vents, and good luck finding even one decent game on that shitty system. You'll find yourself back in the store far sooner than intended, on the hunt for Duracells, a Dyson, and the coveted Ninsonysoft X-Station One-60 Thrii Box.

This is "you get what you pay for" in its purest form -- you spend a little bit of money on a hunk of dried yak vomit, quickly realize dried yak vomit clashes with the wallpaper, and then have to spend more money on a legitimate product that does actual things.

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
"It's a box. You put things inside it. It's a hell of an investment, '50s guy."

It doesn't take much more than a glance at your bank account to realize how bad an idea this is, and that you truly do get what you pay for. While buying top-of-the-line shit is financial torture at first, you'll make that money back soon enough. Once you do, you'll find that, holy sack, the vacuum you bought months ago is still perfectly good. You'll have that same reaction years, decades, maybe even centuries later.

I myself have been slow to learn this lesson, even though I'm the one writing about it. My main bugaboo is how I constantly attempt to improve my life with anything and everything from local yard sales, while forgetting that my friendly neighbors sold me that dirty 10-year-old coffee pot for $1.50 for a very good reason.

With a crack in the pot as an added bonus! I didn't even have to pay extra for it!

Staying away from cheap shit is several universes away from simply getting good deals on good stuff, by the way. A half-price package of General Electric light bulbs is awesome, because the brand name guarantees a proven and reliable product. On the other hand, even if a box of Bob's Bulbs from the Dollar Depot costs less, stay the fuck far away. They'll work just long enough to illuminate your spouse's face as he or she threatens you with murder unless you get some real goddamn bulbs right goddamn now, but that's it.

#3. Give Yourself Extra Time for Everything

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I do this at-home-writing thing full time. And thank Clapton, because I may be the worst commuter of all time. Ideally, I should be awake, showered, shaved, fed, and ready to go with tons of time to spare. Hey, with enough time, I might even fit a few pushups or squats into my morning routine (yeah, sure I would).

In Reality World, if it takes me 30 minutes to get somewhere, I'll wake up with maybe 35 minutes to go. Five minutes of showering become 20, I do the Superman quick change into the first set of clothes I can find, and, oh yeah, food can go fuck itself. I bolt to the car, start driving, swear repeatedly at all the douchebags who dare obey the speed limit, and am shocked when I arrive 15 minutes late with a rumbly tumbly.

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
"Unless those are corn dogs, you need to fuck off."

You don't have to be this shitty with morning routines to understand my point. The concept behind giving yourself a ton of time to get ready for anything is a shockingly tough one to grasp. On the surface, it makes perfect sense and should be easy to implement. Our brains, which don't give a crap about our social evolution and still see us as a bunch of dumbass tree-dwelling apes, often forget to factor in anything beyond "remember pants this time." Preparing for intangibles takes thought and effort, and nuts to that when SportsCenter needs watching.

You plan a road trip, and Google Maps clocks the travel time at seven hours. This almost certainly will not happen. After a dozen traffic jams, endless construction, pee breaks, poop breaks, long lines at the tollbooth, and your inability to decide between a Big Mac and a Double Quarter Pounder at the rest stop McDonald's, you arrive four hours later than you envisioned, and with maybe a quarter of your hair left over.

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
The Han Solo "sorry about the mess" line just doesn't sound as badass in this situation.

This shit starts at school, by the way. Have you ever started writing a paper or book report the night before it was due? How often did that rush of panic actually produce anything beyond a rapid pulse and a dozen saunas' worth of sweat?

Ideally, as you tend to figure out after the Fs and groundings commence, a paper should be drafted days beforehand. Then, almost at your leisure, you can refine and revise and make it as paperlicious as possible. You can hand your teacher something like that with pride and without smelling like an NBA locker room.

Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

As for me, I'm getting better at clock management. So, ladies (particularly, late-'90s pop star Natalie Imbruglia), don't let my tale of woe deter you from messaging me and setting up a romantic dinner for two. I'll get there on time.

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Jason Iannone

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