Often we see in social media people who state that once again, they haven't used algebra today. They're probably wrong. We use algebra all the time, in figuring so many things.

Do you ever calculate how many miles per gallon you get? Then calculate how much it costs you per month or year for gasoline? Then calculate how many gallons and how many dollars you will need to buy gasoline on that driving trip this summer? If so, you're using algebra.

Do you ever figure out how many hours it will take you to do a certain job? And how much it might cost if you paid someone to do that job? Do you use variables? Do you solve to find out just how much "x" is going to be?

Do you ever figure how many miles per hour you are averaging on a trip? Then use that average to figure how just how far you're likely to get on each day's drive on the trip? Algebra.

Whether you realize it or not, we all use algebra to figure out numbers we do not know. We figure miles per gallons, dollars per mile, miles per hour, miles per day, and that's just driving the car on a trip.

How do you budget? You have to collect the data for a period of time, and extrapolate that data for a month, a quarter, a year, to determine how much you must budget for each item. You are solving for "x" over and over in this process. Each line item must be addressed.

What we spend on healthcare, including insurance premiums, co-pays, uninsured amounts, over the counter meds, prescription meds must all be calculated using the data we each develop over time. We invariably identify components, tally each one, use common sense to project such costs over time, solve to determine the monthly average, and place that number in our budget. We solve for "x" on every item of our budget. Some are easy to figure. Others take more detailed work.

How much is it going to cost to send a child to college? How much do we need to save now to accumulate that amount? You can't get there without solving for "x" and using algebra.

Even before we had ever heard of algebra we were using it. "If I want to go to the Pines Theater for the Kiddie Show and it costs 25 cents, and I want snacks that will cost another 25 cents, how many coke bottles will I have to collect and sell to pay for that?" There's a problem I solved many times. If the store pays me 3 cents per bottle, and I need 50 cents, I'll need to sell 17 bottles to pay for that trip to the Pines Theater.

Algebra is a constant fact of life. No, we seldom sit down and do algebra problems as written in most textbooks, but the reality is we use it all the time.

Copyright 2017, Jim "Pappy" Moore, all rights reserved.