This guest post is from Kimberly Palmer, author of the new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back. She’s also the personal finance columnist at US News & World Report.
Looking for some worthy splurges to help you ring in the New Year? Consider these investments in your career to kick your financial life to a new level in 2011.
It might sound counterintuitive, but spending money on a few key items can pay-off big time. Even when we’re cutting back and learning to be frugal in many other aspects of our lives, investing in our careers in ways that help us get promotions, a new job, or a new freelance assignment can help increase our take-home pay. And whether you’re earning the extra cash through a 9-to-5 job or side-gig, raising your income is one of the best ways to boost your overall financial security.
These five investments, taken from my new book Generation Earn, are designed to improve your earning power:
Outsource more of your chores. If you’ve been dreaming of starting up a small business, or want to start freelancing for glossy magazines, then you need the time to get started, especially if you also have a full-time job. If your evenings and weekends are currently filled with chores you could outsource, such as grocery shopping or cleaning, then consider paying someone else to do those tasks for you. The cost might pay for itself after you sell your first product or get your first freelance contract.
Work with a coach. Professional coaching can turn you into the star podcaster you’ve dreamed of becoming, or it can teach you how to be a better leader. Sometimes, a career coach or development course can help you get “unstuck” from a career rut. Talk about your goals for the session ahead of time to make sure you get what you want out of it. (The price of one-on-one coaching typically starts at around $200 an hour.) Less formal advice can come from meeting with more experienced colleagues and mentors over lunch or coffee; they will often be happy to talk with you.
Take a course. Check out the options at your local colleges and universities as well as online. Sometimes, a course in an area you’ve been daydreaming about can provide motivation to try out a new field or help you make connections that can lead to new clients or a new employer. At the very least, it will stir up your creative juices.
Revamp your image. What kind of impression do you leave? If you work in an office or meet with clients, a positive, confident impression can turn into promotions, more leadership responsibilities, and more referrals. Personal shoppers, which big department stories offer for free, can help you find a wardrobe that’s professional and stylish. Website designers, which can cost $2,000 and up, are well worth their price if your online impression is vital to your line of work. You might also want to consider buying business cards for a burgeoning side-business, whether it’s a blog or a freelance career.
Buy your domain name. If you might go into business for yourself one day, then you probably want to own the url of your name or your name plus your field. For example, if you dream of launching your own dog-walking business and your name is Amy, you might want to purchase AmyWalksDogs.com. Domain names, especially creative ones, are relatively cheap, and buying them can also help motivate you to start turning your idea into a real business.
Note from David: If you enjoyed this post you can learn more about Kimberly’s book or buy a copy, or check out her writing for U.S. News & World Report.
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