Invest in yourself
KJ: Everyone’s heard about making a good (or bad) investment in a company, but what about investing in YOURSELF. That’s right, one of the greatest things you can do in attaining your long-term goals is to invest in yourself to improve your future income. No, you don’t buy shares of yourself or issue debt for others to purchase at market, and you don’t tape money to yourself. Investing in yourself means discovering what you do best – whether that is sales, marketing, finances, sports, or crafting – and identifying ways to market it to others.
It’s not likely some great investment return or unexpected windfall that will help you achieve your goals, but rather your skill-set and know-how that can get you there. The answer can be found in your human capital. I define human capital as:
- The earning potential and knowledge you have that makes you both unique and gives you the ability to generate income.
Find what you love
Start by finding what you love. For some people, it is becoming a doctor while for others it is running a successful set of fast food operations. I have learned over the years that you can make a lot of money across many, many walks of life provided you have both the passion to make it successful and the innovation to get there.
AJ: Finding what you love is an unrealistic goal for many of us. It’s hard to imagine making less than you do now to go off and find some passion project or taking a risk on an unknown career path when you’re just beginning your career, but sometimes it’s worth it. Consider what you’re good at – not just what you’re currently good at making money from – and pursue it on the side at the very least to see what kind of hidden potential you possess.
Always be learning
KJ: The best thing you can do for yourself is to continuously be learning and improving. If you’re in medicine, should you only learn about procedures, medicines, and biology? No! Most of our greatest breakthroughs and all important ‘AHA’ moments come when you branch out of the ordinary and experience something different. If you’re a finance major, then read a book on running. If you’re a doctor, read a mystery book. If you’re an english major, read a book about investing.
When the greatest return on your investment is in your skills
You hear a lot of information about needing an 8% or 7% return over the long-haul to get you to retirement, children’s education funding, etc., but those return figures don’t compare when looking at what you might be able to sock away by increasing your earning potential. Especially when you are starting out, if you can save $100 per month, and the following year increase it to $200, you have more than doubled the rate at which you would save. After year 1 (without accounting for any gains/income) you would have $1,200, after year two you would have $3,600. That’s 50% more than what you would have had if you had only kept at the pace of $100 per month.
Where’s the extra savings coming from?
It’s easy to say that you can increase your income or reduce your expenses next year, but spend some time thinking about how to get there. We all get caught up in our day-to-day, so when was the last time you set time aside to think more strategically about how you can make that extra sale at work, leverage your knowledge to other departments, find creative ways to improve your work product, or increase your chance of getting that promotion you have wanted?
Go ahead: work toward that promotion, study for a certification (my personal favorite…sorry AJ!), attend classes to further your education (many employers even have programs to pay for the classes – a win-win), read books, read magazines, read news, and don’t stop thinking about what lies ahead!
- What have you done to invest in yourself?
Have you invested in yourself in a non-monetary way?
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