9 Great Ways To Invest In Yourself – Courses, Books, Finances & More
As someone who practices levels of frugality and saving in many areas of his life, it might seem counter-intuitive to recommend spending money to invest in yourself.
However, your mind and body are the most valuable resources you will likely ever own. Plus not all of the ways to invest in yourself require a major or any monetary investment. Some just require a time and/or mental investment.
I know you can relate to the dopamine hits of positive reinforcement you feel when you push yourself further down the path of success.
Whether that’s getting up early at 5:00AM to go for a run, reading a motivational book cover to cover or putting that extra money at the end of every month into our retirement fund, take another hit of that dopamine.
Invest in yourself.
As the great Warren Buffet said during an interview with Forbes:
Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself. Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet. – Warren Buffet.
Below are 9 great ways to invest in yourself that have worked for me. You might have other tools, habits or resources that have helped you drive personal and professional improvement.
It’s all about finding what works for you.
A great way to continue to sharpen your knowledge bank and skill set is through the plethora of online courses that are readily available on any topic.
Digital learning has grown in popularity and made your personal development track much more feasible and flexible to your schedule.
Whether you’re looking to drive a certain skill needed for your career path or to start a new hobby and passion, there are cost-effective options just a few clicks away.
- Do you want to learn the basics of Photoshop?
- Have you ever wanted to learn another language?
- Do you want to improve your creative writing?
- Have you been thinking about doing some at-home yoga?
The opportunities are endless.
Okay where do I find these online courses?
Udemy is a marketplace providing over 55,000 digital courses taught by industry experts to users around the world. These courses cover almost every topic imaginable for both personal and professional development. The courses also include lifetime access so you can always re-engage with the content or brush up on the specific lessons.
From Design, Health & Fitness, Photography, Language, Marketing, Music, Software, Finance, Travel Hacking and many more. Check my post 55 Great Online Udemy Courses For Millennials, Entrepreneurs and Side Hustlers for some awesome courses I highly recommend.
Here are 4 great Udemy courses that I have personally taken since 2017:
- An Entire MBA in 1 Course: Award Winning Business School Prof
- Copywriting Secrets – How to Write Copy That Sells
- Photography Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to Photography
- Become a SuperLearner 2: Learn Speed Reading & Boost Memory
Now just to showcase the variety of topics available across Udemy here are 5 completely different courses offered:
The tried and true form of investing in yourself and driving improvement; books.
Whether it’s a classic page turner, digital scroller or audible masterpiece, books still remain a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. I’m sure you’ve all felt that same connection and deep enjoyment before as you get taken for a masterful ride by a wordsmith jedi.
Contrary to Mr. Zappa’s famous quote:
So many books, so little time. – Frank Zappa.
It’s never been easier for you or I to be a volume-based reader.
e-Readers like the Kindle, Amazon Fire or iBooks app have made consumption on the go so much more efficient. You can now carry 150 books in less space and weight than it used to take to carry around a single hardcover copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.
I made a list below of some books that have really paid dividends for me, are well-respected or that I plan to read in 2018 (check my post 25 Books On Personal & Professional Development – My Reading List).
Personal Finance Books
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez & Monique Tilford
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sehti
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
- The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins
Career & Business Books
- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
- Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake
- How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Malcolm Gladwell Books
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Tim Ferriss Books
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
- The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
1 From History, Space, Travel & Motivation
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Byrson
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Into The Wild by Jack Krakauer
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Another great opportunity to invest in yourself is through the power of interaction with other like-minded (or not like-minded) people. The growth in social media and expanding global connectivity has made it easier than ever to seek out other members of your tribe.
It’s old hat when people say it’s all about who you know, but as I am sure you can relate to, that holds true throughout our lives.
From new career opportunities or the ability to learn from others, networking is a great tool to continually grow your digital and physical Rolodex.
I know it can be intimidating to reach out to strangers or people you admire but from what I’ve experienced, most people are genuine and open to giving some of their time to you. I’ve found one of the most successful ways to connect with others is to offer them some value or deliver a benefit right off the bat.
Reach Out & Connect
“Hey XYZ, I really enjoyed your [blog post, article, book, YouTube video, talk] on [topic]. The part that really stuck with me is [great benefit you got from them]. I found some other amazing resources on [the same topic] and just wanted to share [2-4 links to similar books, keynotes, blog posts, etc.].
Looking forward to your next [blog post, article, book, YouTube video, talk] and if you’re ever in [your city] I’d love to buy you a coffee.”
Simple and not intrusive. You’ve opened the lines of communication and haven’t started off the relationship by asking them for anything.
Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value. – Albert Einstein
Social media messages, blog post comments, YouTube comments and email have all made your opportunity to deliver value to others so much easier. All it takes is one connection at the right time and you might’ve just found a new business partner, career opportunity, mentor or friend.
Invest in yourself by growing your network and continuing to deliver value, I think you’ll find it comes back in waves.
Seek out like-minded people in your field of work, niche or interest through Facebook Groups. A quick search will likely deliver you dozens of results.
If it’s a private group, go back to our note above and figure out the value you can add to the group. Accrue a list of ten amazing articles or videos on the topic and share it with the Group Admins as a showcase of the benefit you can bring.
These groups are a great place for sharing resources, learning and making connections.
It’s an easy way to invest in yourself and leverage the power of social media to benefit yourself.
Networking in the physical form.
Conferences are still an amazing way to invest in yourself, network with peers and continue to accrue knowledge in whatever the professional or personal niche you’re looking to explore.
Most conferences include workshops, lunches, coffees, breakout sessions and other opportunities for you to connect one-on-one or in smaller group settings.
Another option is to just go to Google and search your city’s name for conferences or search your keyword topic to seek out your next opportunity.
Learning from someone more experienced or who has achieved successes in your career path or area of personal development is one of the best ways to invest in yourself.
Here is a great article on Forbes, How To Find A Great Mentor. It’s full of easy to digest tips that you can action if you’re serious about finding a mentor. Another resource from Fast Company is this article, 8 Successful People Share How Not To Find A Mentor.
If you have a vision of where you want to be, learning directly from someone who is in that place or who has experienced that is an invaluable way to make that vision more of a reality.
Listen. Connect. Learn.
Podcasts are an amazing way to invest in yourself.
You get the chance to sit in on conversations with some of the smartest, most successful and unique people in the world across every industry, topic or skill set imaginable. Their stories of success, lessons learned, actionable steps and advice.
All for free.
Whether you’re on the commute to work, running on the treadmill, doing chores around the house or sitting at your desk at work, you just need to hit play.
Besides the free knowledge and learning, podcasts also deliver other amazing benefits
- You will be inspired
- You will become a better listener
- You will be entertained
- You will be sparked with curiosity
My Podcast Recommendations
I’ve been a serial podcast listener since 2011 and probably listen to 50 – 80+ podcast episodes each week. Check my post The Top 75 Podcasts To Help Improve Your Life, Finances, Business, Health & More.
Yes, 75 different podcasts across a variety of categories: Personal Finance, Side Hustles, Business & Marketing, Health & Fitness, Knowledge & Learning, Lifestyle & Motivation, Travel, Humor & Other Topics.
Check that post out to read about some of the podcasts that have helped me.
The old saying work hard, play hard.
Or how about this revised version: work hard, disconnect and unplug from stress and reap the health and life experience benefits of investing in yourself by taking a vacation?
I am sure you can attest to the benefits you’ve experienced from taking a vacation and travelling.
I’ve found the new experiences and interactions that vacations can bring help stimulate my mind and deliver amazing life and cultural experiences that continue to pay dividends well into the future.
New foods, new languages, new customs, new perspectives, new people.
What about the long-term health rewards of investing in yourself with a vacation? According to Inc.com, the benefits of taking a vacation include stress reduction, heart disease prevention, improved productivity and better sleep.
Vacations can be expensive and it can be hard to justify spending your money on a getaway when there are so many other areas of your life those finances could go.
It’s entirely up to you and you know what provides the most value in your life or needs tending to first. If a vacation is the way you want to invest in yourself, I’ve made a quick list below on 5 ways to save money for a vacation (or anything) that have worked for me and many others.
5 Ways To Save Money For A Vacation That Have Worked For Me
- Sell Stuff On eBay: I sold old electronics (iPhones, laptops and Bluetooth speakers), sporting goods and other random unused items around my place for a profit of $1,200. It’s free to start an eBay account and I know if you did an audit of things around your house you’d find some items you don’t use or get value from. You’ll be addicted after you make your first sale!
- Cut Your Cable Bill: I dropped my monthly bill for cable, internet and cellphone by a total of $55 per month or $660 a year. I had like 330 channels and watched like 6 or 7 of them so I went to the most basic package and just added a la carte a few channels I actually watched. I was also paying for extra data on my phone despite generally only using 25% of my limit, so I cut that add-on.
- Save Money On Groceries: I wrote a post on 13 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries to show some of the tips and resources that have helped me save 25 – 30% on my grocery bills (or $1,500 – $2,100 a year).
- Travel Rewards Credit Card: Check out my post Travel Hacking 101 – Beginners Guide To Travel More For Less. Take advantage of the bonus offers available on new card sign ups. Obviously you don’t want to go into debt or carry a credit card balance just to get some travel rewards. If you’re good with credit cards and always pay your bill, why not get one that benefits you?
- Start A Side Hustle: Check my post 35 Rewarding Side Hustles (Almost) Anyone Can Do To Earn More Money. If travelling is a priority for you, make some extra money in your free time to turn that trip into a reality.
With the growing momentum in the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement, the amount of resources on saving money and retirement planning has increased exponentially.
If you’ve already been saving for retirement and actively engaged in that thought process, that’s amazing and bravo. You’re ahead of the vast majority. If you haven’t, don’t worry. You aren’t alone and I am playing catch up as well after missing the boat in my 20’s.
CNBC found that the majority of Americans (69%) have under $1,000 saved and half of all Americans have nothing at all put away for retirement.
Before starting to save for retirement and getting gung ho on FIRE, most financial advisers and members of the personal finance community will advise you do two things first:
- Start an emergency fund
- Pay off high-interest debt
Dave Ramsey provides some great insight and advice with his Baby Steps. There are a ton of other great resources online to better understand those two points above. Read as much as you can or speak to a financial expert to get a full understanding of your finances.
The below assumes that you’ve got your debt paid off and built a small emergency fund nest egg. So you’re ready to turn up the dial on retirement savings with 3 easy ways to maximize those savings.
If your employer offers to match your 401k contributions, or RPP/group retirement plan for us Canadians, you need to take advantage of this free retirement money. Generally this falls in a rage of 3 – 6% match.
So in layman’s terms, if you have 6% of every paycheck deducted and deposited into your 401k or RPP, your employer will match and put in the same 6% amount.
This is 100% return on investment with your money, please take it!
Arm yourself with the knowledge and understanding to get a better sense of what’s available to you or what’s happening with your money:
- Sit down and talk with the Pension & Benefits Specialist in your organization
- Read your company’s benefits plan documentation
- Learn more about the financial firm, or provider, who is handling your account
- Review your statements
For Americans, if your employer offers a common 401k and a Roth 401k, you can learn more from the Wall Street Journal on the differences between the two as the tax and withdrawal rules differ.
For Canadians, there is a page on smartPATH that gets into the various investment and retirement accounts.
It can all be a little overwhelming but if you invest a little time reading and discussing, you’ll learn the framework and understand the processes. But maximizing your employer matching contributions is a great first step in investing in yourself and your retirement.
Bonuses, Raises & Other Cash Increases
Again if you’ve paid off your high-interest debt and built your emergency fund, saving for retirement is a great way to invest in yourself and the future. Diverting all of or portions of any extra spikes in cash from a bonus, raise or unforeseen sum of income, is a major expediter in letting compound interest work wonders for you.
Some employers will give you the option to invest all of or a portion of your bonuses automatically into your retirement funds, at times they might even match a certain amount. This is another great way to let your money work for you and invest in tomorrow.
This can create tax benefits depending on the type of retirement fund you’re putting the funds in. Remit Sethi has a guest post on his site I Will Teach You To Be Rich about bonuses.
You’ve already been living off your current wages or salary. Let your new incoming funds serve as an additional retirement investing tool. You’ve been living off X, after your raise you will now be receiving X + Y%, let Y be your extra retirement driver.
Taking small steps to be preventative with health and wellness is a great way to invest in yourself. As opposed to the reactionary stance of waiting for the ball to drop and going into spending mode to fix an issue.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. – Benjamin Franklin
There are dozens of ways you could mitigate future health issues by taking some preventative measures. From stretching and yoga, to eating better and limiting alcohol intake (or quitting smoking), to making your regular dentist visits and drinking more water.
Check my post on 5 Quick Health Hacks That Help Me Everyday.
However based on my lifestyle, I’ve noted two things below that I feel are a great way to invest in yourself and that have helped me be preventative as opposed to reactive with my health.
Healthcare Plans With Paramedical Services – Physio & Massage
Technically this invest in your self tip may not be a financial one depending on your employer but it’s still a time and effort investment in your well being and quality of life.
Most medium to large sized employers offer a competitive benefits package that includes a certain value towards paramedical services like massage and physiotherapy sessions annually.
The majority of my coworkers and friends I ask about this aren’t taking advantage of it despite it essentially being a free and amazing health benefit.
At the start of every year I schedule a quarterly massage session and 2-4 physiotherapy sessions as preventative measures to mitigate any chances of an old back injury flaring up. It also just helps to work out all the kinks, strains and pressure that has built up in my back, neck, shoulders and hips from all the time spent sitting.
If you haven’t reviewed your benefits plan lately, please give it a read and just make sure you know exactly what’s available to you.
Self Employed or No Paramedical Health Benefits?
If your employer doesn’t offer this benefit or you’re self employed, I’ve read success stories online of people getting cheaper paramedical services by paying cash as opposed to using their healthcare benefits.
From what I’ve read although a physio therapy session may be valued at $140 through your provider, the actual amount the therapist is charging and collecting from healthcare companies is much smaller than that because of negotiated reduced rates.
Offering to pay privately in cash may be an option to make it affordable to still invest in yourself.
As a marketing professional I spend a lot of time at my desk in the office or in meeting rooms seated. I try my best to get up and walk around or do some standing work but the time I spend parked in a chair is extensive. Not to mention the time in my office chair at home working on Making Momentum, browsing the Internet or the hundred other things I do on the computer.
As someone who has had a previous back injury, an ergonomic chair is a must for me at both the office and at home.
It’s not only a preventative health measure to invest in my long-term wellbeing but it’s a major productivity booster. The Health Site notes these as key benefits of an ergonomic chair: support posture, more comfortable, reduces risk of neck problems, reduces risk of back pain, reduces pressure on your hips and makes working easier.
You can refer to this resource by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety for a more detailed account on ergonomic chairs and choosing the right one.
This is a self-explanatory way to invest in yourself and we’ve all heard it a million times before. And that’s because its true.
The Mayo Clinic lists the benefits of regular physical activity as:
- Exercise controls weight
- Exercise combats health conditions and disease
- Exercise improves mood
- Exercise boosts energy
- Exercise promotes better sleep
- Exercise puts the spark back in your sex life
- Exercise can be fun and social
As someone who has gone through peaks and valleys of practicing regular physical activity, I can attest to all 7 of the above being reality for me.
When I am engaged and dedicated to a exercise routine, all areas of my life seem to reap the rewards and restore balance. I am a more patient and positive with all my interpersonal relationships. I am more motivated and dedicated to my career and hobbies.
There are endless resources available about optimizing your fitness but below are quick tips that helped me get momentum.
As I mentioned above, I’ve had issues with my lower back in the past and knew it would be a good investment to consult a personal trainer before diving too deep into a more intensive exercise regiment.
A professional with thousands of hours of experience and accreditation is always a good investment in yourself. Especially when it comes to your body and any risk of injury or disruption. I took three consultation sessions with a personal trainer suggested to me by a friend in order to get their recommendations on a routine and specific exercises that would work best for me.
They gave me two different weekly workout routines with a variety of different exercised based around whether I had 30 minutes or an hour of time.
I still use the framework of these routines today.
Develop A Routine
One of the biggest pieces of success for me was developing a physical fitness routine and sticking to it. This is in regards to the schedule rather than the specific workout routine.
I used to try and workout at the end of the day, after getting home from work and before dinner. I found that I was sluggish and starting to take shortcuts. Slowly I began to resent and dislike working out which mitigated the benefits.
I decided to try waking up an hour earlier in the morning so I could to fit my workout in before getting ready to head off for work.
What a difference!
It took me a week or two to get used to waking up earlier but it was a perfect fit after I got in the routine. I discovered I was a morning workout person and made that my new regiment. Up at 5:00AM, no ifs or buts no matter how tired I am.
Another great way to invest in yourself is to learn a new skill or pursue a new interest. Or polish up an old hobby that has fallen by the wayside during your busy life.
Hobbies can be a great stress reliever and going through the process of developing the skills and retaining the knowledge can deliver that sense of fulfillment we all love.
The health benefits of hobbies include stress relief, improved self esteem, better sleep, reduced depression, lower blood pressure and an enhanced immune system, according to Care Hospital.
Finding a hobby buddy and going through the process together is a tactic that will help create accountability and make the endeavor more enjoyable.
- What will keep you engaged and feel rewarded?
- Do you feel the need to exercise your mind more?
- Do you want to increase your physical activity?
- How about developing your creative side?
Below are 15 quick suggestions based on popular hobbies to invest in yourself, but it’s really up to you.
- Dog Walking (you can even earn money doing this with Rover)
- Crosswords & Sudoku
The above are just recommendations that have worked for me to invest in myself. You might have other ideas or other avenues that better fit your lifestyle or goals.
The important thing is to keep learning and putting your mind and body as top priorities.
What ways do you invest in yourself?
Comment below, I’d love to know what works for you or what tools you’ve put in place to better yourself personally or professionally. I am always looking for new books, courses, habits and hobbies.
Here are some other posts to help you take control of your money and life:
- The Personal Finance Resources And Content That Saved My Life
- 55 Great Onine Udemy Courses For Millennials, Entrepreneurs And Side Hustlers
- 25 Books On Personal And Professional Development
- Top 75 Podcasts To Help Improve Your Life, Finances, Business, Health & More
- Waking Up At 5AM Changed My Life – Win The Morning, Win The Day
- 30 Small Wins Challenge – Make Momentum With Your Money And Life