When we hear “investing,” we typically think of retirement accounts, IRAs, real estate, and other ways to grow our money.
While this type of investing is essential to financial security, it’s not the only type of investment.
It’s critical to forget about growing money for a minute and invest in yourself.
How Do I Start Investing in Myself?
Investing in yourself means putting aside money to pay for things that will help you in the long run. Spending money is often antithetical to most financial advice, but spending money on the right things can significantly improve your life.
You can start investing in yourself by determining the “right things” for you and setting aside money from each paycheck to pay for them.
Top Ways to Invest in Yourself
Investing in yourself is not a one size fits all endeavor. There are many ways to invest in yourself. Some will lead to financial success in the future, while others are more related to self-care and wellness.
Each of these topics is important to a happy, fulfilling life, but how you achieve them is up to you.
Deciding what makes you happy and what you should invest in is part of the fun of life.
To help you get started, here are some of the top ways you can invest in yourself.
Invest in Your Financial Future
Investing in your financial future is critical to investing in yourself. Although traditional investments and money management are part of this, there are other things you can do that might help you find a higher-paying job or shift career fields to something you enjoy more.
Here are the top ways you can invest in yourself by investing in your financial future.
Get a Degree
College is a considerable investment. However, earning a bachelor’s degree is still a top path to a higher-paying career.
According to the Social Security Administration, men with bachelor’s degrees earn a median of $900,000 more throughout their lives than men with a high school education. While earnings increases are less for women, they can still expect an increase of $600,000 over their lifetimes.
The gap in earnings increases further with advanced degrees. Men’s lifetime earnings with graduate degrees exceed those with high school educations by 1.5 million, whereas women with graduate degrees earn 1.1 million more than their counterparts without a degree.
Learn a Trade
College is not for everyone. Some people work with their hands better than staring at a computer screen. If college isn’t right for you, you can invest in your financial future by learning a trade instead.
Skilled trade workers make a median of $47,000 per year in the US, but experienced workers can earn upwards of $70,000. Although trade workers may not earn as much as those with college degrees, they don’t have the burden of student loans hanging over their heads, and their jobs tend to be safer in a recession. Everyone will always need plumbers and electricians.
Earn a Certificate
There are cheaper paths to education than trades and colleges. Sometimes, all you need to enhance your career is a certificate. These aren’t as desirable as a college degree, but some career fields only require certifications, whereas sometimes, adding a credential to your bachelor’s can make you stand out.
You can earn a certification in various fields, from information technology (coding, programming, etc.) to project management. Certificates might be required for careers such as beauticians, some medical technicians, and personal trainers.
Start a Business
With the rise of the internet, starting a business is easier than ever. However, it will still take upfront investment and start-up costs.
Owning a business isn’t without risks, but it’s a top way to invest in yourself. If you don’t want to take on the full burden, consider starting a side hustle for extra income. You will develop new skills, make extra money, and have something to fall back on in case of an unexpected layoff.
Consider starting a blog or Youtube channel to create content, or become an online virtual assistant or bookkeeper if you want to earn extra money from your excellent organizational skills.
Join Professional Associations
Many professions have associations you can become a member of for a fee. Although it may seem silly to pay an outrageous cost to join a group, consider it an investment in yourself.
Many professional associations hold events throughout the year, giving you the perfect opportunity to network with other professionals in your field. Become an industry insider, attend these events, and interact with higher-ups.
As they say, it is often more about who you know than what you know, and these associations are great places to meet the right people.
Pay for Career/Resume Advice
If you’re struggling to find a perfect fit for your skills, consider investing in career coaching and resume development.
These professional services can make your resume stand out in a crowded field or discover career paths you never knew existed.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes it’s worth every penny to learn tips from experts.
Read Next: Find Out What You Should Do With Your Life
Find a Mentor
A mentor can help guide you along in your career and personal life. They can become a trusted coach, helping you make difficult career decisions and acting as a sounding board for problem-solving.
Many large organizations offer structured mentorship programs. If your company offers this, jump in!
It’s an excellent opportunity to interact with a leader at a higher level, outside of your chain of command. The relationship can give you valuable insight into how the organization runs and what skills you need to move up or sideways into the position you most desire.
You can find a mentor outside the workplace as well. Some people turn to a trusted teacher or an old supervisor for mentorship, but savvy networks can find one on Linked in or in networking events.
When asking for mentorship from someone you don’t know well, offer them something in return. Ask to buy them a cup of coffee or offer to pay for their time. Don’t force the relationship. Meet up and see what happens.
Don’t Forget Traditional Investments
Although there are many ways to invest in yourself outside of traditional investment vehicles, we can’t ignore the obvious.
Part of investing in yourself is investing for your financial future. Make sure you participate in your company’s 401K, if they offer one, and get the entire match. If you don’t have access to an employer-funded retirement account, invest in an IRA through one of the many online brokers.
Become Financially Secure
Achieving financial security is the pinnacle of investing in your financial wellness. When you’re secure in your finances, you have breathing room to invest in the other items on this list.
Financial security means you’re no longer living paycheck to paycheck, have money to handle emergencies, and feel confident that you’ll be able to retire.
Achieving financial security isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are the top things you need to do to obtain it.
You need to budget if you want to invest in your financial well-being. You can no longer allow your money to control your life. You need to know exactly where your money is going and adjust your spending priorities as required.
Sit down and take a hard look at your spending. Write out all your bills, discretionary purchases, and everything else you spend money on. Then compare that to your income and life goals.
You’ll likely find that your spending doesn’t match your priorities. Now is the time to adjust and make your money work for you.
Related: Consider the Zero-Based Budgeting
Increase Your Income
Sometimes there isn’t enough money to pay for everything we want and need. If that’s the case, you need to find ways to increase your income.
We have already mentioned numerous ways to invest in your career and earn more money. Now is the time to explore those options.
You must save money in an emergency fund and a sinking fund. You never know when the car will break down, when the cat will need to visit the vet, or when you’ll need to buy a new dryer.
Emergency funds and sinking funds will help you pay for these unexpected expenses when they arise without relying on debt. Although experts say you should start with $1000, the reality is that it rarely covers even one emergency.
You’re sinking fund to handle unexpected short-term expenses should have a few thousand dollars in it, while your emergency fund should have 3-6 months of living expenses to see you through an unexpected job loss.
Pay Off Debt
Debt can feel like a giant chain around our necks holding us back. A great way to invest in yourself and your financial future is to pay off the debt and strive to live a debt-free life.
Stop using your credit cards and make extra payments towards debt each month. Use the debt snowball method and pay off the lowest balances to “snowball” the amounts as you pay off more and more.
Saving vs. Investing vs. Debt Repayment
Saving, investing, and paying off debt are the three pillars of financial security. The top question people have is, “what should I do first?”
Those who need a lot of help should invest in a financial advisor. Certified financial advisors consider your entire financial situation and help you make the right money moves based on your goals.
Not all of us can afford a financial advisor or have the assets that justify their use. If you can’t afford professional help, consider using our triangle approach to financial security.
The triangle approach helps you build a saving, investing, and debt repayment plan that works for your individual goals and circumstances.
Beyond Financial Security
Continue saving and investing so you can quit working and provide your children with opportunities you’ve never had.
Read Next: What’s FU Money and Why Do I Need It?
Invest in Your Personal Development
Life is about more than money. Investing in your personal growth and development outside of work is vital to a happy life.
These ideas for investing in your personal development will make you a well-rounded person, and some may even open up new career paths for you!
Try a New Hobby
Life is about collecting experiences and seeing what fits. Allow yourself to try new hobbies on for size.
Go rock climbing, fly a kite, grab some crochet needles, or try your hand at pickleball. You can start many hobbies for less than $20 if money is tight, but life is for living, so allow yourself to spend money trying new things when you can afford them.
Spark Your Creativity
Opening your mind is vital to personal development. Creative outlets help us explore our imaginations and experience the true majesty hidden in the world around us.
Explore one of the many creative hobbies available to spark your own creativity. Try writing short stories, painting a masterpiece, or sketching your environment.
Dabble in a variety of artistic hobbies to see what suits you best.
Take a Class
Learning doesn’t have to be for career development. If you’re passionate about a topic, consider taking a course to learn more. You can audit classes for minimal costs at local colleges or take an online course in nearly any subject fathomable.
Some stores offer niche courses as well. Local camera stores may offer photography classes, while most beaches have at least one shack that offers surf lessons.
Invest in yourself by learning something new, even if you can’t use it for your career.
Learn a Language
Internet platforms make learning a new language more accessible than ever. Duolingo allows users to learn for free!
Learning a language is a massive time investment, even on free platforms. However, it’s worth it if you want to travel or understand the complexities of humanity through language. With the rise of globalization, speaking a second language is a great skill to have.
Books are gateways to new worlds and new ideas. Open your mind to possibilities you never dreamed possible by investing in books.
Read theories from top scientists about the multiverse and the nature of the universe, then jump to self-help books to boost your productivity. Grab a novel and let your imagination run wild in Middle Earth or other fantastical realms.
Reading allows you to learn about the world through the perspective of others. As a bonus, books are cheap.
Invest your time in helping the less fortunate. Volunteering is a great way to invest in yourself. It will help you see human struggles from a new perspective and develop empathy for folks that may not have the same resources you do in life.
Not only that, but volunteering can look great on a resume. It will help you develop essential skills you can translate to any career path. For the best results in volunteering to build your career, try to find an organization that aligns with your potential career path.
Hire a Life Coach
If you aren’t sure what to do with your life, a life coach can help. A life coach is a friend who can help guide you toward living your dream life.
Sometimes we need someone in our corner to bounce ideas off of and who will help us work through our thoughts, putting us on a path toward success.
Life coaches are great because we pay them to listen to us and help us discover what we truly want out of life. They can also give us fresh ideas for pursuing those dreams while holding us accountable for achieving our goals.
Remember that life coaches aren’t therapists and can’t help you with unresolved trauma or mental illnesses.
Always Be Open to Learning
Learning should be a lifelong endeavor. Most learning is informal, which means it happens outside of the classroom.
A great way to invest in yourself is to open yourself up to all types of learning. Listen to the perspectives of folks you disagree with. Understand that you don’t know everything about everything, and be open to changing your mind when presented with new information.
Your willingness to listen, learn, and share will help you grow.
Invest in Wellness
Health and Wellness are vital to a long, happy life. Unfortunately, investing in health and wellness isn’t always cheap, but it’s critical.
Here are some ways to invest in your personal wellness throughout your life.
Engage in Self Care
Self-care is essential. Spending time or money on self-care activities is never selfish or wasted, even despite what financial gurus will have you think.
Get that massage. Treat yourself to a spa day. Splurge on scented candles, bath bombs, and a luxury robe. It’s okay to treat yourself sometimes. Sometimes a wellness day at the spa is the best investment we can make.
Get a Pet
Pets are expensive. Even shelter pets have adoption fees, vet bills, and basic maintenance costs.
However, pets add joy to your life, incomparable to anything else. The simple act of petting a dog or cat can reduce your stress and add precious, healthy years to your life.
Of course, pets aren’t for everyone. Ensure you’re in a stable position where you can appropriately care for whichever pet you choose, and don’t get a pet if you aren’t an animal person.
Give Yourself a Makeover
Sometimes the best investments build confidence. If you’re feeling stale, consider investing in a new wardrobe or day at the beauty salon.
A new look can give us a fresh outlook on life, boost our self-esteem, and enhance our overall mood. Sometimes those benefits are worth the cost.
Use that Gym Membership
Gyms bank on people paying for their membership and never using it. Prove them wrong and invest time in hitting the gym.
Exercise has numerous health benefits. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and live longer. If you don’t already have a gym membership, invest in one and make an effort to go. You’ll thank yourself later.
Journaling is a low-cost way to invest in your mental health and wellness. Mental health experts say journaling helps with many things, from working through complex emotions to gaining self-awareness.
Journaling can also help boost productivity. Use a bullet journal to organize your schedule, or brain dump into a traditional journal to clear your mind for whatever tasks lay ahead.
Pay Extra for Healthy Eating
Investing in healthy eating can be a challenge, especially with our busy schedules. Junk food is cheap and delicious. It’s also filled with preservatives, which gives it a lasting shelf life. Healthy food, on the other hand, is more expensive and often goes bad before we can enjoy it.
Despite the challenges, eating healthy is a top way to invest in yourself. Pay extra for fresh organic produce. Invest time in cooking with fresh ingredients. Limit your trips to fast food restaurants and reduce your carb intake.
Paying more to feed your body correctly will reap dividends in the long run.
Schedule Regular Checkups
Invest in your health by going to the doctor, even if you aren’t sick. Get your regular checkups, pap smears, and wellness exams.
Yes, doctors are uncomfortable, and even checkups are far more expensive than they should be, but putting it off could lead to more significant problems down the road.
Scheduling regular checkups can help you discover and manage health problems before they become life-threatening.
Don’t Neglect Your Teeth
Although seeing a doctor is necessary, regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential. Unfortunately, healthcare in the US doesn’t cover teeth, but oral hygiene is something you can’t ignore.
According to the Mayo Clinic, dental health can severely affect your overall well-being. Poor dental hygiene can lead to conditions like heart disease or pneumonia, or it can exasperate pre-existing conditions like diabetes.
Many productivity experts will tell you to wake up early to get stuff done! Wake up at five and work for three hours before the family rises. Stay up until midnight completing those projects.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your overall health and wellness. A good night’s sleep improves your overall mood and helps you perform at your best. Neglecting rest can lead to a host of adverse health effects, such as an increased risk of stroke or obesity.
Forgo the extra work hours you could squeeze in with less sleep. It’s not worth it in the long run.
A final way to invest in your health and wellness is to seek therapy. Many of us are burdened with unresolved childhood trauma or struggle with mental illnesses that we aren’t even aware of.
Therapy can help us understand our actions, make peace with our past, and become the best versions of ourselves.
Unfortunately, therapy is expensive and still holds a negative stigma. However, those who’ve embraced it know how impactful it can be.
How Therapy Can Help
I’ve sought therapy for unresolved trauma and learned to recognize unhealthy relationship patterns. It helped me realize that I wasn’t responsible for other people’s emotions and how to set and maintain essential boundaries.
I’ve also swallowed my pride and sought help for my mental illness. After conversations with a therapist about my struggles in life, I was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication. The results are life-changing. I can focus, remember things, and complete tasks that took me days to get to in the past.
Investing in your mental health is just as important as investing in your physical health.
Invest in Living Your Best Life
Money is vital to a happy life, but often the best investments we can make in ourselves involve spending time and money to create our best lives. Here are some methods of investing in yourself that will help you live life to the fullest.
Determine Your Goals
Before you can live your best life, you must decide what that looks like. Take time to discover your true wants and desires. Discuss potential ideas with a life coach.
After reflection, decide what you really want out of life and start setting goals to achieve it.
Your life goals should include financial goals, ideas for improving yourself, and an action plan for accomplishing everything.
Investing time in this soul-searching will help you identify what you really want out of life.
Gift Yourself More Free Time
Our lives are busy. We have work, chores, child care, and, if there’s time left in the day, hobbies and interests to pursue.
A great way to invest in yourself is to outsource some of the labor and give yourself more free time to build relationships or pursue your interests.
Hire a house cleaner to help with the chores, a landscaper to take care of the lawn, and a babysitter to watch the kids now and again. Have your groceries delivered and hire a dog walker. Find small ways you can afford to outsource and gift yourself a little extra time each week.
Take a Risk
Nothing teaches us what we’re capable of more than taking a huge risk. Climb your Mount Everest.
Do something huge and scary that’s difficult to overcome. Move across the country for a job, jump out of an airplane, or leave the awful but comfortable relationship you’ve been stagnant in for the past five years.
Taking risks leads to personal growth. We will never know what we’re capable of until we’re pushed to our limits.
And remember, most people tend to regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did do, so take that risk and try to live life without regrets.
Traveling opens our minds to new perspectives, ideas, and cultures. It teaches us new ways to do things and shows us the majestic beauty inherent in Mother Earth.
Through travel, we can learn about our shared history as humans, broaden our palettes, and learn to appreciate all the things we have at home.
Sometimes you need to travel to the opposite side of the world to find yourself.
Discover Your Passion
Everyone is passionate about something. Unfortunately, we get so caught up in what we have to do that we often neglect what we want to do, and we lose our passion and drive for the things we once loved.
Invest time and money in rediscovering yours. Pick up a brush and throw paint on canvas, volunteer at an animal rescue, or hop on Coursera to take a class in that niche subject you used to love.
Although investing in your financial future is essential, it shouldn’t come at the cost of living your life. Some financial experts lash out at folks for enjoying life’s simple pleasures, like eating at a restaurant or indulging in a favorite video game.
It’s okay to treat yourself every now and again. The key is to strike a balance.
Don’t spend all your money on treating yourself today. You need to save and plan for the future. But you also shouldn’t be so miserly that you don’t enjoy the here and now.
Find the right balance that enables you to enjoy the bounty life offers today while ensuring your security in the future.
Invest in Relationships
Humans are social creatures. We crave a sense of belonging and connection with our fellow man. The final way to invest in yourself is to invest in your relationships.
Here are some ways you should dedicate time and money to growing your social connections.
Spend Time with Family
One of the top regrets of the elderly is spending too much time working at the expense of family. Your kids will only be little for so long. Your parents won’t be around forever.
Make time for the essential people in your life. Skip work to go to your kid’s school play. Visit your parents. Spend time with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all the people you care about.
Work can wait.
Have a Date Night
Relationships take work. Sometimes we lose touch with our partners amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. Between work, chores, and kids, we forget to nurture our relationships with the very person we promised to make a priority.
Invest in a date night with your significant other as often as possible. Spend the money to get out of the house and do something together. Revisit old haunts, explore new restaurants, and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company away from the kids.
Your relationship with your partner is one of the most vital relationships of your life, so make sure you invest in keeping it healthy.
Take the Kids to that Event
When I was little, my dad made every effort to take us to random things we’d enjoy. He took us to see the Bulls play and to Grant Park to celebrate their championship. He took us fossil hunting, to museums, to see plays, and on numerous camping trips.
My childhood memories are full of wonderful experiences because my dad chose to sacrifice time and money to enrich our lives.
Do the same for your kids. Engage with them in the things they’re interested in, and take them to special events that spark their creativity.
Fill their childhood with great memories. You may not see it now, but in the future, you’ll be grateful you invested time and energy into giving your kids magical childhoods.
Meet Up with Old Friends
Friendships fade, but they don’t have to. Make an effort to invest in vital interpersonal relationships.
Take time out of your busy schedule to help a friend move or meet up for coffee. Spend money on weekend trips or girls’ nights.
Connection is one of the keys to human happiness, and one of the best ways to invest in yourself is to maintain meaningful relationships.
Also See: 101 Fun Ways to Nurture Your Friendships
Numerous Ways To Invest in Yourself
Although the financial aspect of investing in yourself is critical to a happy life, it’s not the only investment that matters.
To live a full, well-rounded life, you need to invest in other things as well. Make time for self-improvement, invest in your relationships with others, and spend the extra money to keep yourself healthy.
All of these investments are crucial to overall happiness and contentment. You’ll thank yourself for investing wisely in the future.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.