Why Are Fractions Important? 10 Examples of Using Fractions to Solve Real-Life Issues

What’s black and white and full of problems? Your latest math test.

If you did poorly, you may find yourself frustrated and cursing Pythagoras himself, especially when it comes to fractions. But, who really needs that stuff anyway?

When you’re in school, your teachers always tell you that you’re going to use what you learn at some point later in life. But, when does that time come? Here we take a look and find an answer to the question, “Why are fractions important?”, once and for all by looking at ten examples of fraction use in the real world.

1. Calculating a Sale Price

It seems like some stores love to put everything on sale instead of telling you what the price is up front. This sales tactic has gone on for years with marketers hoping potential customers assume a discount will be more significant. If they knew exactly what they were expected to pay, they might not do it.

But there are ways to go around their clever marketing game if you’re familiar with fractions. Let’s start with a ten percent discount to see how easy it is to come up with a solution.

With a ten percent discount, one dollar of every ten you spend will be savings. So if you have a shirt that is fifty-six dollars in your hand and it’s on sale for ten percent off, you know that you will get $5.6 dollars off of the total, making the shirt fifty dollars and forty cents.

2. Calculating Your Server’s Tip

Your server’s tip in a restaurant or bar is another great place to use your fraction skills. In this setting a fifteen to twenty percent tip is standard, so the math can get more complicated.

But, if you stick to your one dollar for every ten dollar rule and then just double the number you came up with, you’ll know what both ten and twenty percent of the amount are. That means if you want to tip fifteen percent, you just have to divide the sum of the two amounts by two.

By using fractions in this simple way, you will be sure to never short a server.

3. Cooking Half a Recipe

While it would be nice to have a giant family to cook for, many of us are eating for one or two and have a hard time finishing an entire recipe’s worth of food by themselves. That’s where fractions come in.

If you decide that you want to make half the recipe, then the math is fairly easy. You will just need to double the bottom number and leave the top number the same. For example, half of 1/3 is 1/6.

But where the math gets more complicated is when you decide to make a fourth of the recipe (multiple the bottom number by 4), or two-thirds of a recipe (for this one you’re going to need the calculator).

4. Deciding How Many Tables You Need at a Reception

I bet you never thought you would be breaking out the fractions when planning a party, but making the perfect seating chart starts with deciding how many people you want to have at each table.

For example, if you had twenty guests coming, you could seat them at two tables of ten, or four tables of five, or five tables of four. It all starts with a fraction.

5. Calculating Construction Measurements

When you are working on a construction project, it’s important that you’re really careful with your measurements and many things are labeled with fractions.

If you want to be sure your tile isn’t an eighth of an inch too small for the space you need, you’re going to need to know how to calculate that.

6. Figuring Out How Far You Can Go on Your Tank of Gas

While it’s not the smartest idea ever, sometimes you need to make it to your destination before you have time to get gas. But, if you’re in an unfamiliar car, it can be difficult to know how far you have to go on the remaining tank of gas.

But, if you can estimate what fraction the fuel gauge is at and you know how many gallons the tank holds and about how many miles per gallon that kind of vehicle gets, then you can make an educated guess as to exactly how far you have before you run out of fuel.

7. Allocating Your Income

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing in the world. So if you don’t want to itemize all of your receipts, try coming up with a fraction system for allocating your income.

For example, perhaps you use 1/4 of it on housing, 1/8 on transportation, and 3/8 on food.

8. Mixing Hair Dye

While many people just like to buy a box at the store that has all the chemicals they will need to dye their hair measured out for them, buying your own materials and mixing the dye yourself can lead to much more unique and often more accurate results.

The typical mixing ratio for dyes and bleach is 1:1, but if you have a sensitive scalp, are looking for a more intense color, or need to add some sort of conditioning base to the mixture, you will need to put those fractions to work.

9. Splitting a Bill

When you’re out with friends, splitting the bill at the end of the night can be a real headache. But, if you are familiar with your fractions then the division will be a breeze.

10. Budgeting for an Expense

When you are budgeting your money to pay for something expensive it’s important to know how close you are to your goal. By measuring the fraction of how much you have put aside so far, you will have a mental image of how far you have to go.

Why Are Fractions Important?

After looking at these real-world examples, it’s easy to answer the question, “Why are fractions important?”

But, that doesn’t mean that calculating with them is easy. For help, check out our handy calculator today.

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