Three myths to bust before choosing to invest in yourself
Love to earn more money and escape your current life? Here are three myths to bust before choosing to invest in yourself.
I want to start investing. What do I do?
I get this question all the time. To be fair, I am a finance expert and write about saving, investing, and financial independence all the time, so the question is justified. But the answer is never what people want to hear.
When you have a lot of money to invest you can do a lot of fun things, including real estate and stocks, and just watch your money grow. But if you’re not rich yet, it is best to focus on one thing.
Earning more money.
Sounds easy, right? Just earn more money. Well actually, it’s not too hard. And the answer, once again, lies in investing but…differently.
Investing in yourself
What does that mean exactly? Simply put, it means using some money and time to learn something that will generate more money and time down the line.
Why is this the best?
Saving money is hard but important when it comes to finances.
Investing is important too but it’s a long term game.
Making money is something you already do and you can quickly be better at it. You likely even know the skill that your boss would really value that could make your worth more. Take that course and you’ll be investing in a near 100% guaranteed return.
If you’re employed – Invest in new skills that will gain you a raise or a promotion. Learn about public speaking, a technical skill, or even go to an industry conference and present what you’ve learned when you return.
Want to prove you have initiative? Start by investing during COVID when everyone else is binging netflix and Marie Kondo.
If you have your own business – Invest in the tools and skills that will help it grow. Is there something you’re putting off because you don’t know how yet? Something that’s a lynchpin for your success? Stop penny pinching and invest in it right now!
If you have a job you don’t want – Some people have jobs they don’t enjoy. It’s a fact of life that sometimes you made the wrong choice and just need to grind it out for a while (I did it, yuck!). What you should do now is learn to make some money doing what you like. If you’re good you’ll be able to go full time before you know it.
But but but…
I know I know. You have very good reasons why you can’t invest in yourself right now. I have them too, but then I remind myself that they’re rubbish. Let’s look at a few common ones.
Excuse 1 – I can just learn it myself
I have to admit – I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure you are too. I can be stingy with the best of them and whenever I want to learn a new skill, I always try to wander the internet to figure it out. Blog posts, podcasts, Youtube videos, forums, you name it. Sure, I learn a lot, but I’ve just wasted a full week for a duct-taped solution. (And a whole lot of filler.)
Plus, who knows what you are missing, so there may be huge gaps in your solution. Just go learn from someone who actually knows the whole story and call it a day. That’s valuing yourself properly.
Besides, courses and programs usually come with support. Be it the instructor themselves or the community – you get to ask your questions and adapt the material to your needs. The support alone should trump any excuse.
Excuse 2 – I don’t have time
Oh do I know the feeling. Kids. House. Work. And then you have to be a diligent student on top of that, right?
And if you’re guilty of the “reverse-engineering” hack from above, then I can tell you why you don’t have the time. You’ve probably spent hours on youtube spirals trying to absorb everything there is to learn.
Courses cost money because someone took the time to put it together for you. It’s cohesive and succinct. They’re giving you their years of learning in just a few hours. So as far as I’m concerned – you don’t have time to not take the course.
Excuse 3 – How am I supposed to pay for it?
If this is something that you really want, you’ll find the money. Otherwise you’ll find another excuse. If you think you’ll earn more you are wasting money by not taking the course.
A $100,000 earner could easily make an extra $5,000 with the right new skill. If your course cost you $2000 then that’s a 250% annual return. There is no way anyone can turn that down!
Even better, if you’re currently employed, your workplace probably has a budget for professional development – it just may take a little negotiating.
If you’re your own boss, there may be some grants available to you. (And if you got unexpected money recently – like say a stimulus check – treat it as a sign that you should invest it for the highest ROI.)
But whether you have someone to help you out or not, you have to see it as an investment and not just another expense.
There’s one catch – you have to follow through
Investing in yourself is not like listening to a podcast and thinking “that was interesting… NEXT!”
No. Paying money means paying attention. Pretend there’s a strict teacher on the other side judging you for not doing your work. And think of how good it will feel to finish.
If I just spent a thousand dollars on something, you better believe that I’m going to follow through. I’ll become a bloody expert! Wake up at 5am before the kids? No problem! I’ll do whatever it takes to get a return on that investment.
It’s not a Youtube video I watched while cooking. I’ve got skin in the game now!
So when was the last time you’ve put skin in the game and invested in yourself?
Lina Kristjansen is from FiveYearFIREescape.com where she and her husband write about their retirement from a corporate 9-5 in their early 30s and teach you to do the same.
Photo by Brooke Cagle