# 20 Examples of Algebra in Everyday Life We Can All Relate To

One of the most common questions I get as a high school math teacher is “where exactly will I use algebra in the real world?” Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of algebra in everyday life!

Many students find it helpful to know just where they can apply math in their everyday life. After all, if it isn’t useful, is there a point to learning it at all?

Now, I will be the first to admit that we don’t all use abstract algebra to make our lunches or drive to school or work. But, I can guarantee that you will be surprised by just how much material and real-life examples of algebra you can apply to your real life.

I am excited to share my personal top 20 answers that I give to my own students who ask me this question! How many of these uses of algebra can you relate to?

## What is Algebra?

Considered the father of algebra, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician famous for using the Arabic word *al jabr*. Originally used to describe *completion* or *rejoining,* we now know algebra as a tool to determine unknown variables and unknown values.

Depending where in the world you study, the concepts of algebra will vary quite extensively. But in general, algebra involves using an algebraic expression to represent real-life situations so that we can determine the value of an unknown quantity. In practice, this often involves moving terms between two sides of the equation in order to solve the equation.

## 20 Examples of Algebra in Everyday Life

Whether you realize it or not, your basic knowledge of algebra helps you complete many of the daily tasks that you are responsible for in your everyday life! Even if mathematics is not related to your chosen career path, there are still examples of algebra in everyday life that you can relate to! Let’s dig into this list so that you can develop a new appreciation for this beautiful subject!

### 1. Calculating Gas Mileage

One of the best real-life applications of algebra is the ability to figure out how far you can drive with a specific number of gallons of gas. One of my biggest fears is being stuck on a freeway as my car’s gas tank is slowly depleting. But, with some knowledge of your vehicle’s mileage, you can figure out how much gas you need to get from point A to B.

### 2. Calculating the Length of a Trip

Okay so you know how far you are going to get on a gallon of gas. But how long will it take you to get there? If you know how fast you are travelling, and you know how far away your destination is, you can determine the amount of time it will take! This is a simple use of algebraic operations that can help pass the time on a long road trip!

### 3. Financial Planning

I credit my own financial literacy to my understanding of algebra and mathematics in general. Understanding algebra helped my family build our bank account, stay out of debt, and ensure that we always have enough money for our purchases before we make them.

There are so many problems that students solve in the finance area in studies of algebra. Calculating how much money is required, or the total amount of money after some amount of time are very valuable skills that are transferable to real-life problems that involve money. So pay attention!

### 4. Budgeting

Another important part of being financially literate is understanding how to set up a budget that balances your monthly expenses and income. Being able to set goals and calculate how much money is needed to work toward them is something that algebraic thinking helps make possible!

### 5. Comparing Cell Phone Plans

Cell phone companies all offer different plans with specific numbers to entice you to sign up for their service. It might seem like common sense to choose the cheapest option, but having good problem solving skills can help you get the best plan for your own needs without spending too much money!

### 6. Calculating Exchange Rates

Going on a trip overseas? Did you bring enough money? Knowing how to use simple algebraic concepts and exchange rates can help you calculate how much money is required for your trip.

### 7. Field of Art

Many people are surprised to hear about the application of algebra in the arts. While many people view the field of art and mathematics as separate, they are more closely related than you might think! Sure, artists aren’t sitting down solving complex algebraic equations and math problems. However, they do use ratios and proportions alongside the principles of art to create patterns, balance, contrast, and more.

### 8. Time Management

One of the most difficult problems people face in the real world is management of time. Do you ever feel like you are always spending too much time on the wrong thing? Whether it is planning your morning routine or figuring out how much time a task will take, time management is an essential life skill.

The words we use to describe our units of time all have deep roots in algebra and our understanding of fractions! Understanding exactly how much time half of one hour is goes a long way!

### 9. Baking

One of the most common examples of algebra in everyday life happens every time you cook or bake! Recipes are designed to help you bake a specific amount of food or dessert. But what if you want half of that amount? Or double? If you couldn’t use algebra, you could end up with WAY too much cake (not that that is a bad thing…).

### 10. Grocery Shopping

Next time you find yourself at the grocery store, pay attention to how often you are required to think about algebra. You will be shocked!

There are discounts from the original price everywhere you look. And it seems that every product has two size options to choose from. Understanding basic math and use of algebraic operations is the best way to keep the total cost of your grocery bill as low as possible!

### 11. Logical Thinking

You will not apply every mathematical problem you solve to the real world. However, constant exposure to complex problems helps develop logical thinking and problem solving skills. This is a simple example of how this invaluable skill will help you solve real-life problems in your daily life and in the workplace.

### 12. Chemical Sciences

You’ve probably seen the word problem that asks how much of each chemical is required to form some sort of solution, right? Setting up two linear equations and solving the system is something that many chemists do to ensure they have the correct proportions in their solutions.

### 13. Mental Algebra

One of the most practical applications of algebra is being able to perform quick mental algebra. There are too many aspects of daily life to list, but a great example is if you are working as a part time cashier. Sure, the cash register will tell you how much change to give, but basic math is helpful if there is ever an argument. The customer is always right, after all!

### 14. In Video Games?

If you have been around *Math By The Pixel *before, you’ll know that a big part of my story is that I am a huge fan of retro gaming. But do I actually use algebra while playing video games?

Well, yes and no. As a math teacher, my knowledge of quadratic equations has helped me understand the impact that gravity has on a video game character. This helps me make insane jumps that many people just can’t make.

### 15. Doing Your Taxes

One of the most common complaints I get from students is that our math courses don’t teach them useful skills like doing their taxes. And taxes truly are one of the examples of algebra in everyday life that can help you out in this finance area! All of the skills you gain when working with percentages and solving for unknown values are actually quite applicable to filing your taxes. But I agree with the students on this one – we need a course on this useful life skill!

### 16. Construction

Whether you are calculating the area of a rectangle to find the square footage on a floor plan, or building a deck that will support some number of people, the use of algebraic operations is essential in so many construction jobs and trades.

### 17. A Mathematically Perfect Cup of Coffee

The perfect cup of coffee is essential to the start of any math teacher’s day. The best way to make the perfect cup is using a simple equation to determine the exact amount of water and coffee needed to make the perfect cup. Setting up a quick ratio and cross multiplying to solve for variable x is worth the effort. Trust me.

### 18. Computer Programming

As a math teacher turned web developer, I can’t tell you the number of times my knowledge of algebra concepts has come in handy. If you aren’t working in technology, this won’t be one of the examples of algebra in everyday life you can relate heavily to. But if you are, you will find knowledge of ratios, proportions, and percentages come in handy quite often!

### 19. Health and Fitness

Another one of the examples of algebra in everyday life that many people overlook is in exercising to maintain health. Whether it is working with your body mass index to optimize weight loss, or planning out caloric intake, you would be surprised how often a simple equation can come in handy!

### 20. Home Improvement

As a home owner, you will see examples of algebra in everyday life quite often. Whether you are looking to determine how much paint you need to cover a wall, or calculating the square footage of sod you need to cover your backyard, there are real-life examples of algebra in home improvement everywhere you turn.

My wife (who is also a math teacher) and I actually recently worked together to determine the most efficient use of materials while building our kids this outdoor mud kitchen! We were proud to say that our skillful application of algebra left us with only 6 inches of wasted wood by the end of the project!

## Using Examples of Algebra in Everyday Life

Algebra is widely regarded as one of the most important branches of mathematics. While it isn’t always easy to see, there are examples of algebra in everyday life wherever you look. Even if you aren’t solving a traditional mathematical problem to determine unknown variables, or working with algebraic formulas, algebra is still everywhere in our daily lives.

As a math teacher, I see the importance of algebra in a way that many don’t. Algebra is a sense that we all start to understand in the early stages of development in our lives as we learn basic problem solving skills. These skills only grow and develop over time as we learn to apply them to more and more complex scenarios.

I hope that you found something surprising on this list that you can apply in your own life! This is one of my favorite essential questions to discuss with my classes at the beginning of the year. I truly believe that understanding where you can find examples of algebra in everyday life enhances your appreciation for the subject!

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