For most of us, our career is our main financial asset. So it makes sense to allocate a portion of your budget to invest in yourself. In doing so, you’ll make yourself professionally nimble, become more marketable to employers, increase earning potential and establish yourself as a key employee.
Investing in yourself isn’t limited to learning. It also includes contributing your time and resources toward your personal well-being, along with ensuring you have a secure future beyond your working years.
To help you put your best foot forward and get great gains in return, here are five ways to invest in yourself that can really pay off.
Earn a higher degree
No matter the highest grade you completed, one thing is for certain. Going back to school to level-up your education could increase your yearly salary and your lifetime earning potential, if you play your cards right.
A 2014 Pew Research Center study revealed that the median income for millennials with high school diplomas is $28,000 per year, while those with associate’s degrees earned a median income of $30,000 per year and college graduates had a median income of $45,000 per year.
Going beyond a four-year degree can give you bank account a boost by about $12,000 per year with a master’s degree and $15,000 doctoral degree, according to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. All contingent on your area of study, of course.
Since getting a degree can be costly and time-consuming, it’s best to save for your program ahead of time and choose a path that will put you in the least amount of debt as possible (hint: utilize employer sponsored tuition reimbursement programs). Luckily, there are lots of online learning choices available these days, so you can work toward graduation at your own pace.
Acquire a new skill
Does returning to school for another full-fledged degree seem like a stretch for you right now? That’s ok! There are lots of ways to learn a new skill that could put your resume on top of the heap for a promotion or new opportunity.
You can earn certifications or continuing education credits at local colleges like Valencia College, Seminole State College or the University of Central Florida. Or you can learn new computer programs by taking classes at your local library or online through learning sites like Lynda.com.
Join a professional association
Look around your area and find an association that focuses on your field. While many require that you pay monthly dues, that money is usually well spent for three reasons:
- Networking - In many cases, getting hired can be linked to who you know. By mingling with those in your industry, you could connect with your next big opportunity.
- Professional development - Most organizations meet monthly or bi-monthly where they bring in guest speakers, host workshops or offer seminars.
- Nuggets for your Resume – You can add association membership(s) to your resume to show a commitment to the industry, willingness to make connections and eagerness to learn.
Get your health in focus
When your health is optimal, your professional performance is, too. So you’re going to want to include healthy living in your budget and routine. Operating like a three-legged stool, healthy living is achieved through a balance of nutrition, fitness and mindfulness.
The first step toward healthy living is investing time and resources toward activities that relieve stress and bring you joy. It doesn’t matter if that thing is meditation, yoga, fishing or kickboxing. Make it a priority, so you can approach life’s hurdles without feeling overwhelmed. Then have a heart-to-heart with your healthcare provider to create a diet and fitness plan that works best for your current situation.
Invest in your future-self
Do you want to retire comfortably? Sure you do. Are you paying your future-self on every paycheck? If not, then now’s the time to start. If your employer offers 401k matching – take it! That’s essentially free money — not something anyone can afford to walk away from. If you don’t have access to a 401k, look into an alternative ways to save for your golden years like a Roth IRA. Just be sure to have a conversation with a financial advisor along the way, so you can be sure to get on the retirement path that’s right for you.