If there’s a question I’m no stranger to, it’s along the lines of “Leif, what made you decide to invest in yourself?” This is probably why you’re also here. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m quite big on investing. But, contrary to popular belief, there are some investments that are better than actual investing investing, such as investing in yourself.
Now, the steps that follow after you decide to invest in yourself differ from person to person. Generally, I base it on the idea that when you invest in yourself, you create a bag of tricks for yourself. The goal is to have tools (in the form of skills and capabilities) that nobody and no market conditions can easily take away from you.
It would be stupid of me to envision a world where there are absolutely no threats to your livelihood and money (but one can dream, can’t they?). But by making the decision to invest in yourself, you can find ways to stand out from the crowd and be a step (or two) ahead of everybody else.
Investing in yourself is great, you become more self-reliant and to an extent, more self-sufficient too, but the widely popularized narrative is that you need to invest the traditional way. It’s a game of risk and reward, a battle of the fittest; and over the years, traditional investing has been the most championed and supposedly, the best way to make money.
How traditional investing works
Traditional investing is a required knowledge point to get rich. The biggest thing is that you can sink massive amounts of money into it and still get decent returns; decent being 10% non-inflation adjusted from the stock market. That 10% return works whether you put in $1,000 or $1,000,000, so when you have money, it’s a great starting point.
The emphasis here is on “starting point.” Think of stocks like getting a foot in the door when it comes to investing. It’s usually when you have just a bit more money than the average person, but not quite enough to compete with the likes of Bill Gates. You get me? Good.
Another great way of investing traditionally is through real estate. A lot of people turn to it, and yes, I’m one of those “a lot of people.” You’ll be happy to know that it’s something I’ve tried and I can comfortably tell you that it works. Yeeessss!!!! Provided that you have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing.
This brings me back to my point from earlier – that traditional investing requires a certain level of knowledge if you want to become wealthy. Or else you’re just shooting yourself in the foot and flushing your money down the drain while you’re at it.
Years back, I bought a $410,000 rental home that’s giving me an annual return of 26% with very little effort from my side. I love it! I like the fact that real estate doesn’t need me to be hands on, I don’t need to be up at 5:00 every morning and sit in traffic just to make sure that property brings in the money at the end of the month!
Imagine. That would totally suck.
Of course, there are ups and downs to all traditional investment options. But I think the one thing that stops people from exploring these options (apart from enough money to experiment with) is knowledge. Fortunately, I’ve always had a curious and inquisitive mind, so the research and trial and error part has never been much of a problem for me.
The one thing I’m dead set on, though, is that whatever investment I decide on must be time efficient and deliver decent enough returns. Oh, and another thing, there’s been this crypto/Bitcoin craze that’s been doing the rounds over the last few years – yes, over and above the forex phenomenon (sigh) – don’t fall for it as a newbie investor.
Personally, I don’t see these as traditional ways of investing. In fact, I kinda think they suck and you should skip it and not bother even looking into it. But then again, that’s just me. Instead, I’d recommend investing in yourself. Not quite sure what that is or how it works? Keep reading.
How investing in yourself works
When you invest in yourself, the payoffs can be massive. In fact, they can be way more than 10% because you are leveraging your money with brain power. This is quite similar to why real estate is amazing – because you can leverage your money using a mortgage.
Basically, if you can invest in a skill, then you can make more money. That way, it pays off SUPER FAST!
It’s not rare for people to come to me and ask me to teach them how to invest, because apparently I’m a pretty good case study and this blog has led to people thinking I’m some personal finance guru. Considering that I did manage to retire early and work according to a schedule that works for me, I’ll take it.
That being said, I got here because I read a lot of books and was introduced to a lot of financial concepts in the process. It’s quite clear to see that my brain actually did most of the work, it had a lot to do with getting me to the point where I am right now. So, yup! Your brain may just be your greatest financial asset and investment.
Top 7 ways: How to invest in yourself
1 – The best way to invest in yourself is to learn to invest the normal way
If you don’t cross this gap, it’s impossible to ever become rich. The best part, though, is that you just need to make an investing account and fund it. Then, naturally, you will gain experience over the years as you watch the money grow. Then when you have good money, you’ll be comfortable.
As for me, I recommend index funds and using M1 Finance because they automate everything for free, so it takes very little mental maintenance. It’s pretty amazing. This is something I realized quite early on in my investment journey.
I’d bought an index fund and pretty much forgot about it because I was basically living and breathing stocks. Years later, I realized that it was actually doing quite well. In fact, it was right up there with my stock picking! But you know what the crazy thing was, I got some pretty good returns for doing pretty much nothing over the years.
That’s pretty much how my little romance with index funds started, and we’ve lived happily ever after since.
2 – Invest in a course that can help you bring in more money
If you’re lucky enough to have a job or steady flow of income and can afford to scale up your income with a course, it’s incredibly worth it. Getting a whole extra degree like an MBA is a stretch for me, but taking some courses to make you a specialist in your field can easily net you a 10% raise.
Let me paint a picture for you, one of my employees told me they wanted to be our data science person (since we don’t really need a real full-time data scientist). They took some courses, and blamo, they make an extra $9K/year now. Now that’s an example of putting your extra time to good use and using it to bring in more money.
The course was only $400, and they followed through with some grit to get a project done in the field to prove themselves. In reality, that’s a whopping 2,250% return on investment!!
Okay, so you may be thinking, “Why not just listen to a podcast or watch a training video online?” I’ll tell you why. Because when you pay for something, you want to get as much value from it as possible, right? You become more accountable and want to make sure that you see how your money is working for you.
On the other hand, you’ve probably listened to tons of podcasts and webinars and thought about how amazing they were, but chances are, they didn’t really get you to take that next step. But if you’re forking out some money to get that knowledge, you’ll definitely feel the need to benefit financially from it and put it to good use.
3 – Commit to constantly upskilling yourself
If there’s one thing I can tell you for free, it’s that things change. Even after completing a course that can help you bring in more money, you’ll probably need to continue upskilling yourself on a daily basis. Industries like finance, law or medicine require you to be on the ball and in the know about the latest developments.
If you’re a creative, be even more concerned because have you seen the rate at which all these social media platforms are changing their algorithm?? They’re borderline sabotaging any campaign you try to put out without the necessary knowledge. But, I digress. Back to the importance of upskilling yourself and how to go about it.
Upskilling yourself is as simple as consuming the right content and following industry trends after completing a course. Also, I’ve found that connecting with industry peers helps. If there’s new software or a program that’s just come onto the marketing in your industry, find out how it works and how it differs from the others.
That way, you can add it to your skillset and include it as part of your service offering and MAKE MORE MONEY! And in some cases, that extra income only really cost you your WiFi and a couple of cups of coffee. That’s only sometimes though, often, you have to pay to get the valuable information that you want.
4 – Be smart and take calculated steps
Regardless of whether you’re investing in the stock market, a new business, a marriage, or yourself, this is one to write down and highlight. Once you’ve taken the steps towards bettering yourself and gaining some additional knowledge or skills, you have to put it to good use (obviously).
You need to weigh out your options and see which one makes more sense. Whether you’re gauging the level of enjoyment derived from it, value for your time, or in most cases, how much financial value it’s adding to your life, you need to compare and pursue the best one.
Being smart is key, so if ever there was a time to whip out your common sense and higher-level thinking, it would be now. For example, if you’ve just acquired a new skill set, you should definitely not be taking on additional work that you know you can’t deliver on just because of the pretty pay check that’s being promised.
Instead, you can test the waters and start with small jobs. That way, you become better at what you do and people will be willing to pay you more for what you do because you actually know what you’re doing. Nothing beats the sense of satisfaction that comes with putting your skills and capabilities to work and receiving great feedback.
Think about it, you wouldn’t want to put all your savings into a “promising” investment opportunity, so it’s not always wise to go all in and dive straight into the deep end. Sometimes, small and gradual steps will get you to the finish line… as long as they are calculated and working towards a bigger goal. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.
Bottom line is, be smart and play the game right.
5 – For the business owner
This is an even bigger deal when you own a business. Think about it, when you own a business, the numbers are even bigger than any individual’s income. If you can invest in a marketing campaign or some training to sell an extra service, the whole business’ income can increase by a big chunk!
Let’s say your small business brings in $250K/year in revenue. If you can raise the revenue by 10% with some training that doesn’t need new employees, you’ve just found $25K in profit. In fact, even if the training was $25K, that still makes it a satisfying 100%/yr return on investment. Sign me up immediately!
Look, as a small business owner, perhaps your initial instinct is to outsource and get a so-called expert to do a certain task for you. Not everybody is a numbers person, so if you’re in business because you like doing whatever it is that you do, then perhaps your bookkeeping isn’t where it should be.
If that’s the case, you’re probably tired of dealing with books that don’t balance at the end of the month and now you’re considering getting an admin assistant. But you know what? You could actually save that expense and use that money to do a bookkeeping course.
Essentially, you’re choosing a long-term investment in yourself and business over a salary expense, which honestly makes a whole lot more sense to me.
6 – Pick up a skill that opens up a job you like better
This sounds like a bit of an airy-fairy concept at first, right? Because very few people actually like their jobs in the first place, isn’t it? Hear me out, though. If you pick up a skill that opens up a job that you like better, then the return is in… (drumroll please) HAPPINESS!!! That’s worth a whole lot more than money, if you ask me.
I wiggled myself into a job that I really love with some special learning and effort. Now, I don’t plan to retire completely because my job is so sweet! Let’s call it a $10K investment on my part, mostly in my own time. Now I bring in an extra $56K/year that I wouldn’t have found. That’s a darn good deal.
7 – Take time to understand how money works
This sounds a bit obvious, but when you think about it, a lot of people are either poor, in debt, or living hand-to-mouth simply because they do not know how money works! Your level of understanding of financial principles can either make or break you, I say this all the time. It’s why I’ve started teaching my kids the basics of finance already, and why I have this blog.
The truth is, you can take all the courses you can come across, accumulate as much additional income as possible, and then drop it somewhere and hope and pray for the best. But that’s not going to help you get rich. At the end of the day, you need to know how to use that course to make you money, and then ultimately how to make it work for you.
I hear a lot of people saying you should save a certain amount each month, like 10% or something… which is great, but if it’s just going to sit in an investment account and bring no real value, why do it?
Ideally, you should diversify and explore investments that require little to no intervention from you, then you know you’re on the right track in your investments. This is one of the main reasons why I love real estate, in case you hadn’t figured that out by now.
Becoming rich is a numbers game that anyone can win if they are strategic and have some sort of guidance. Books are great for this, it’s how I gained a lot of my knowledge. But I didn’t just sit there with a brain full of knowledge, I tried different things out. That way, I was able to see what worked and what didn’t – you should too!
Final thoughts on investing in yourself
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my take on why investing in yourself is possibly one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Of course, that’s not to say that your sole focus must be on investing in yourself and being blind to all other potentially lucrative opportunities, that would be a dumb thing to do.
What I am saying is, by simply investing in yourself, you could actually get the best of both worlds – happiness and wealth. Yes, it is possible all in one lifetime, but only if you play your cards right. The simple decision to invest in yourself can be beneficial beyond your wildest dreams.