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Invest In Yourself

Have you invested recently…in yourself?

If so, leave a comment describing how you invested in yourself, how much it cost, and what you think you’ll get out of it. (Share how you’ve invested in yourself here »)

WHY I ASK

This week I’m at a conference in Atlanta for my day job, which is selling (very expensive) business software.

Many people who are here are getting ready to spend $100k, $500k, sometimes even millions of dollars on enterprise software systems (and then pay 20% of that amount every year to support and upgrade the software). This got me thinking about what we spend our own money on…and how we should be spending a portion of our income investing not in the stock market, but in ourselves.

Why do companies spend millions on business software?

ROI. (Return on investment.)

When a business spends $500,000 on software, it’s betting than in 12 months, give or take, the software system will save it at least that much money. (The software I sell, for example, helps manufacturers work more efficiently, so they can produce more products in less time.) They are not buying this software, they’re investing in it.

HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOU

You are your own greatest asset. Your ability to earn is what’s going to put food on your table for years to come, enable you to experience and buy things you want, and allow you to retire when you’re older.

Knowing that, you have a choice. You can rely on your cumulative work experience to earn you raises and promotions every few years in the future, accepting the fact that you’ll never really transcend the job/role/industry/lot in life you have now.

Or, you can continue to invest in yourself. As you do so, you’ll increase your effectiveness. As you become more effective, you will earn more money.

P.S.

You don’t have to spend a lot, to invest in yourself, by the way.

A book on business or self-improvement counts.

So does a $100 coaching session, $1,000 seminar or, yes, a $30,000 master’s degree.

Just be careful: Although it’s generally a good idea to invest in yourself, you can make bad investments in yourself if the ROI just isn’t there (consider the different returns generated by a master’s degree in Creative Writing and an MBA from a top school).

How have you invested in yourself recently?

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Spent $1,000 on a basic day-trading seminar last Fall. Great material and I am definitely seeing the benefit in my trading.

    I plan on hitting the advanced level this Summer. $2,000 for more info, plus an extra live-trading day where we make live trades as a class to reinforce what we’ve learned.

    I’m looking forward to it!

  2. I guess could say I’m investing i myself but waking up at 5 or 6 every morning to read the paper, read books, articles, exercise, or do whatever I want before I have to go to my day job! :)

  3. I’m about to take the plunge and invest $150,000 in my law school education (that number will shrink, but that’s what it’s valued at).

    I can’t wait to jump back into the classroom and really prove my worth.

    • If you’re taking out student loans, it’s going to be more than $150K once you add up all the interest.

      I’m not trying to discourage you. I took out $150K in student loan debt, and then met my husband in law school who had done the same thing. Even though I landed a pretty sweet (six figure) job, for a long time, the minimum payment on my loans was more than 1/4 of my take home pay.

      I don’t hate my job, but I’m not sure it’s where I want to stay for forever. Unfortunately, it is where I HAVE to stay until I pay down a substantial portion of my loans.

      As long as you’re making an informed decision — best of luck to you!

  4. I just spent $2000 on a nice bed. I figure if it helps me get 20 min more sleep a night (and better quality sleep) and it allows me to function better throughout the day… it will continue to pay dividends for years to come.

    • Luke,

      I totally agree with you – I bought a “cheap” bed for $300 and then decided to get a better bed, but nothing crazy. I ended up buying a bed for $600 and you know what? I probably need to get another bed. I just wasted $900 on sub-par beds. Sometimes it is better to do it right the first time.

    • Good thing to invest in! I just wish my $2000 bed was as comfortable as it felt in the store. 5 minutes in a store is not the same as spending 5-8 hours per night under full bedding.

      After a few years, I feel that I still need to find a good bed…but of course I’m gun-shy for fear of dropping a lot of money on something that won’t work as well as I’d expect.

      Hopefully your bed works perfectly for you!

    • Thanks! I hope it works for the long haul too because I spent more on my bed than I did on my car (which is 16 years old but runs like a champ).

  5. I know this may sound crazy to some, but I typically invest about $50-75 per month on books, seminars and online tele-courses which focus on Real Estate investing, personal finance and just general self management. I believe these have really paid off. Half of the return is the new knowledge I learn and the other half is keeping the momentuem so I can continue to building self confidence in my investing strategy.

  6. I have spent a few thousand dollars to sit for the CPA exam and review materials. I expect the ROI to be tremendous in my vocational life but also improve my personal finance decisions.

  7. I am learning more and more that the best investment you can get yourself is getting in shape!

    If you aren’t spending time in the gym, you’ll have less energy, not be as happy, and won’t be able to impress your customers with a big gut hanging over your belt!

  8. As Justin stated above, exercising one of the biggest investments you can make in yourself. Personal fitness ties in with personal finance in just about every aspect.

    Also, I completed my MBA a couple years ago, and have certainly been rewarded for it financially.

  9. I am investing in myself by working part-time jobs that will help build my resume and allow me to learn skills that apply to the field I actually want to work in as opposed to working a full-time job with better pay and benefits that would do nothing to help me have a career I would love.
    I turned down a full-time government job with great benefits because it was not what I wanted to do. I now work part-time as an assistant director of a day camp and in aquatics at the YMCA (I also nanny part-time because it pays more than the other 2). I want to work in youth or recreational programming, and right now I am building my skill set (while dealing with low pay) by working at a city Parks & Rec dept and a YMCA. I hope next year after my wedding and moving to a bigger city these experiences will pay off in allowing me to have a full-time job doing what I love.

  10. These needn’t be exclusively financial investments either. One’s health can have very easy to trace return on investment, learning a new skill that has self-enrichment value (even if it’s free lessons, it’s an investment of time), or even spending a deliniated amount of time on personal reflection to enable one’s self to make better decisions in important areas.

  11. I went on a 12 day road trip to SXSW. Best personal development decision I’ve ever made.

  12. I spent about $20 going out to dinner with some friends, some of whom are business and political leaders. I see the $20 as an investment in networking opportunities as well as a great way to relax and have fun to prepare for a demanding work week ahead.

  13. Jeremy E. Laughery says:

    Invest in yourself with financial education. This may be in the form of spending some green blood or just some time taken out of your pleasure to do so. To get ahead in life, remember this import quote: “Business comes before pleasure”.

    Take care of your financial business by Meticulously Planning your financial moves, like one would in a game of chess. The banks are the opponent and you are protecting your financial assets (King and Queen) from check-mate (Bankruptcy). Use your financial tools (Knights, Bishops, Rooks, and Pawns) to skillfully protect your financial assets.

    Our Congress has played our game of chess for us and has made a terrible move that cost us dearly. The Congress left the people open to the wrath of corporate banks by not ‘Contemplating’ on the moves of the opponent (Big Banks). So, the opponent took a few of our rooks and pawns! Will you learn from this large-scale mistake and apply the lesson learned on a smaller scale?

    I did, that’s why I do not ever deal with big banks anymore. I deal only with credit unions for my financial interests.

    I invested in my future by applying what I have learned from the big picture. I hope you will too.

    Regards,
    Jeremy E. Laughery

  14. As funny as it sounds, I bit the bullet and decided to invest in “business attire.”

    When I started my first job out of college about a year and a half ago, I had very little proper corporate attire. I’ve never been big on buying dress clothes because I’m a strange size that is not easy to shop for and tends to be more expensive to buy clothes for my size. While most people who want to look professional on a budget can just go to a department store and find good deals, my petite size would require me to have every single thing I purchased tailored and dress shoes aren’t even an option because anything that doesn’t strap to my ankle will fall right off my foot. So in turn my waredrobe has always consisted of t-shirts, jeans that are too long for me and flip flops.

    I tried to get by for a while with creative styling (buying a few cheaper dress shirts that somewhat fit and pairing that with pants too causual for work). After all while (and some advice from a coworker), I realized that everyone didn’t assume I was an intern because I looked young, but because I dressed like an intern.

    Being used to buying cheap t-shirts, it was a shock but I purchased 3 staple dresss pants that actual fit and look corporate, 2 professional skirts, 1 pair of shoes, and enough button down shirt to get me through the week. It was expensive but the value for people actually viewing me as a peer is already showing great dividends. It’s nothing flashy or big designer, just well-made clothes for a girl my size to still look like an adult professional.