Using Math in Everyday Life

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  • 0:04 Class Math vs Real Math
  • 0:55 Money Math
  • 2:13 Making Better Decisions
  • 3:29 Amount, Time, Shape,…
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

While not everyone loves math, it is extremely useful. Learn about just a few of the dozens of ways that math can be used in everyday life: for money matters, to improve decision-making, and in many other little ways.

Class Math vs. Real Math

For some reason, a lot of people seem to find math boring. Maybe it's because it seems like a bunch of random activities with the sole purpose of giving you a headache. Math can often seem like it has no real use in your everyday life; however, nothing could be further from the truth.

Math is like the language of the universe - physicists can use it to explain everything that exists, from the very tiny to the gigantic. The world around us contains patterns that are mathematical in nature. But you don't have to be a theoretical physicist to appreciate mathematics. In fact, most people use mathematics in their daily lives. Even those who avoid it could improve their lives greatly by using it. In this lesson, we are going to take a look at some examples of how math can be used in everyday life.

Money Math

Probably the most obvious way that math can be used in real life is when dealing with money. When you walk around the supermarket, you might compare different brands of the same product. Maybe one can of tuna has an offer that says '3 for $2.50' and another kind of tuna is $1.00 each. That might not seem too complicated, but add in the fact that the first kind of tuna comes in 5 ounce cans, and the second kind of tuna comes in 6 ounce cans, and things suddenly get pretty complicated. Being able to do math will tell you which product is cheaper.

Or, let's say you're selling lemonade on a street corner. If a glass of lemonade costs $1.25 and someone hands you $2.00, you have to do math to know to give them $0.75 change.

But it isn't just the little things like comparing products in supermarkets or making change. Anyone who really cares about looking after their money and being financially successful should complete a budget each month. Looking at how much you paid, and subtracting each of your expenses, you can figure out exactly what you can afford to spend. In the process, you can calculate how long it will take to pay off any debt you have, focus on areas where you can save money, and even calculate the interest on your loans. All of these things involve math.

Making Better Decisions

Mathematics can also help you make better decisions in life. In particular, an understanding of probability and statistics is extremely useful.

Let's say that new research comes out which suggests there's a link between sitting on wooden chairs and cancer. If you understand statistics, you can look at the research that was done and figure out how concerned you should be. For example, perhaps the study showed that sitting on wooden chairs triples your risk of cancer, but if only eight people were included in the study, that isn't statistically significant enough to be worth worrying about. Or maybe it tripled the risk of a particular, but extremely rare, cancer. Increasing your risk from 0.0001% to 0.0003% is not really a big deal.

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