When you hear people talk about investing, you probably think about the stock market and your retirement account. But do you also think about other ways that you can invest in yourself? This could be furthering your education, hiring a coach or therapist, starting a business…the list is endless! And these types of investment are just as important as saving for retirement, but they don’t always seem that way. So here are the times I think you should invest in yourself and how to make it happen.
When to Invest in Yourself
You’re Feeling Lost
Have you ever heard of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks? Sometimes you might have to metaphorically do that in your life if you’re feeling lost or unclear. If you’re looking for inspiration or a new direction, it’s worth it to invest in new opportunities to see what moves you.
Three years ago, I was feeling aimless, depressed, and scared. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I realized I could not continue with my status quo, so I looked around for compelling opportunities. I signed up for Bossed Up Bootcamp, hired a life coach, and eventually, I enrolled to be trained as a coach by CoachDiversity Institute. Yes, these were big investments, but they helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life and connected me with amazing people.
You Can’t Do It On Your Own
If you’re a high functioning, high achiever, you might try to go for things on your own most of the time. But it’s important to ask for help when you need it. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, you should invest in a good therapist and medication, if necessary. If you’re feeling stuck and you want to find solutions to move forward, you should hire a coach to help you with the issues you’re struggling with. This could be a career coach, a financial coach, a relationship coach, or whoever specializes in what you want to work on.
What kind of support do you need to get to where you want to be? Share in the comments!
You Want To
Sometimes wanting to do something important for yourself is reason enough to do it. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, like become a yoga instructor, or learn how to make pottery, you should go for it! You don’t have to justify your desire to invest in yourself or try new things.
Why Invest in Yourself
You Deserve It
Many people, especially women, feel like they are selfish if they do things that are just for themselves. But we need to break that stigma and start taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, and professionally.
You Have to In Order to Advance
Say you wake up one day and realize that your dream is to become a nurse and dedicate your life to helping people heal. You can’t just apply to be a nurse somewhere, you have to go to nursing school. So in order to make this dream come true, you have to apply to nursing school and pay for tuition. You may even have to cut back on your current job in order to make room for the coursework. This scenario would require paying for tuition up front or taking out loans.
There are many other scenarios where additional schooling or certifications are needed in order to advance in your career and/or income. These are times when it’s almost essential to make an investment in yourself. The idea is that these investments will further your career so that you become more successful and earn more money over time.
Your Happiness Matters
Quality of life should not be overlooked. If something, anything will make you happier, it’s probably worth doing. Perhaps you want to take dance classes, or learn a new language. Pursue the things that will make you a happier, more engaged person! The key is to be strategic about these things. Build them into your budget. You don’t want to put yourself in debt (if you can help it), because that will probably hurt your quality of life.
It’s Worth It In the Long Run
It can be hard to spend money and time on something up front, especially if the investment is larger than you typically spend. However, sometimes investments will save or earn you money in the long run.
For example, investing in a service like financial coaching can end up saving you money in the future. Yes, you’re paying money up front that might seem like a lot. But through this service, you’re improving your relationship with money, you’re learning how to create and stick to a budget, you’re coming up with a plan to pay down your debt or build up savings, you’re setting yourself up for financial success in the future. Results like these can be invaluable and make it so you actually have more money later on.
How to Invest in Yourself
1. Get Clear on Your Budget
It’s really hard to make a plan or start saving if you don’t know where you’re starting from. So the first step should always be to make a budget. Add up what you’re bringing in every month, add up what expenses you absolutely have to pay every month, see how much you typically spend on other things like groceries, calculate how much goes to debt, and then do the math to see what’s leftover to save.
If you don’t have enough left over to save for your goals, it’s time to figure out where to cut back. Look at your spending habits around dining or Lyft. Those are the two areas that my clients tend to be really shocked by their spending. Track your spending for a month or two and see how much is going to areas like this. If you can cut back on that spending, you’ll have a lot left to save.
Of course, sometimes you’re already living on a barebones budget, and there’s nowhere to feasibly cut back. In that case, unfortunately, the only option is to bring in more money. Your options here are to either ask for a raise, find a job that pays more, or take on a part-time job or side hustle.
2. Ask Your Employer
It’s easy to forget this, but many employers include professional development in their organizational budget. It’s a great way to help employees build their skills and advance in their career. It’s also a great way to keep employees happy. If you’re already employed, ask your boss or HR department if they pay for professional development. If you’re applying or interviewing for jobs, make that one of your important questions.
My previous employer paid for me to attend conferences and trainings like Bossed Up Bootcamp. I wasn’t sure if they would go for it, but I made my case, and they said yes! And remember, the worst that can happen is they say no. But the best that can happen is you get experiences that you might never have gotten otherwise.
3. Save Up
One of my clients has created a “personal and professional development fund.” It’s a savings account that is specifically for things that will advance her on a personal and professional level. For her, this includes coaching training, painting classes, and other things that bring her joy and fulfillment. Another client started a savings account for grad school. She knows she won’t be able to save up the full amount of tuition by the time she goes, but the amount she’ll save will make her life a lot easier once it’s time.
I personally have a savings account for travel. Being able to travel every year is really important to me, and it improves my quality of life. So open up a savings account just for investing in yourself. Automate a set amount to go into it every month. That way, you won’t have to think about it, and the money will grow without too much effort from you.
4. Cut Back on Spending
You’d be surprised at what you can afford when you scrutinize your spending. One of my former clients wasn’t sure if she could afford financial coaching. After 3 months of working together, she realized she was able to live life normally, without missing my fee. Now that we’re no longer working together, she’s decided to put that money into savings every month, since she was able to live without it every month.
So put yourself on a tight budget and cut back on the things that you don’t need or truly want. This might bring up feelings of scarcity in you, but you should keep your eye on the big picture. You’re making a short-term sacrifice now so that you’ll have long-term gain later.
As my friend and life and career coach, Noelle Janka, said: “It’s hard to have joy in discipline if you don’t know what it’s for.” Get clear on why you’re making this sacrifice now, so that you’re investing in yourself, and improving your life later. Finding your “why” and keeping it in the forefront of your mind will make this process so much easier. And the reward will be so much sweeter!
5. Take Out a Loan
This wouldn’t always be a recommended option for investing in yourself. Taking out loans or using credit cards to pay for things can be a slippery slope and put you in a bad financial situation. However, if you’re going back to school, buying property, or starting a business, it might make sense to take out a loan. Just make sure you weigh the pros and cons of all your options so that you know what the best choice is for you.
What are you going to prioritize for yourself? How do you plan to make it happen? Share in the comments, and good luck!
Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. She founded Maggie Germano Financial Coaching with the mission to provide women with the support and tools they need to take control of their money and achieve their goals. She does this through one-on-one coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, writing, and workshops. Follow Maggie on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and join her Money Circle group! For more information, or to contact Maggie directly, visit her website.
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