Invest in Yourself

What comes to mind when you think about the word Investments? Most people will have words like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate pop into their head. Now I want to think outside the box a little bit. One of the best investments is something that most people don’t consider; an investment in yourself. And before we get started, this does not include skipping work for a day to go shopping!

What would with$10,000 if I gave it you tomorrow?

Most people could find a way to use the money. It would probably be in the form of some combination of spending, saving, paying off debt, and investing. I hope that spending would be a smaller portion of those decisions, but you can do whatever you want with this money. Why not buy a new motorcycle if that’s what makes you happy? Now, let’s change it up a little bit.

What would you do if I required you to invest that $10,000? I know…how awful. How dare I restrict the free money I just gave you in our imaginary situation. Which investments would you choose? There are thousands of different investment options in the stock market alone. For those of you want to pay off all your credit card debt, I understand that paying off something with 20% interest is the same as investing and earning 20%. That’s not allowed for this situation. Give yourself a minute and think about it.

Hopefully, you started to analyze all the risks and returns between different investments. Did any of those investments involve spending money on furthering your career? This type of investment could change your life.

Everyone has probably heard the phrase “An investment in yourself will pay dividends for the rest of your life.” It makes sense. If you are 18 years old deciding between college and starting a career, going to college will probably allow you to make more money throughout your life than if you immediately started working a full-time job. But it could work if you are 40 years old as well and wanting to expand your career choices. Let’s look at some examples of how you could use $10,000 towards an investment in yourself.

College Degree - $10,000 probably won’t buy you a full degree, but it’s a good start. A combination of community college and online courses may get you close. This could be the start of a four-year degree to start your career, or it could be an MBA to provide you with management possibilities at your current job. The important thing with college degrees is to choose one that accelerates your career and will allow your income to increase. Spending $100,000 on a private college that will allow you to work in a career making $40,000 a year for life is not a good investment.

New opportunities - Are you ready for a career shift? Find out what certifications would be beneficial for the career you desire. Let’s say you would like to get a job in computer programming. There are probably one or two programming systems that all employers will want you to have experience with. Spend the money to get certified in Java or C++. That will make your interviewer realize that you are serious about the career change.

Current Career – Maybe you love your job and want to stay with your company until you retire. That’s great! Are there any certifications that would help you move within the company? For instance, most accounting firms won’t promote to manager without a CPA license. The Six Sigma program is also a great example of a certification that could allow you more opportunities in your current career. Spend the money to get a certification that will allow you more opportunities in the future. Some companies may even help pay for a certification. However, like a college degree, don’t waste your money on a certification that doesn’t add value to your career.

Most of these investments require a lot of money, time, and hard work. The long-term impact will be worth it. Aside from the obvious benefit of a higher salary, you will have flexibility throughout your career. You may love your job now, but that could change in five years. Investing in yourself could help you in the future from feeling stuck without any options. Now think about that $10,000. What investment in yourself would you make?

Mike Zeiter, CPA/PFS