Buying a stock or bond is one form of investing, but it’s not the only one. By investing in yourself, you could increase your income, health, and happiness. And you don’t necessarily need a lot of money. In some cases, the best investments take time and discipline but don’t cost anything.
Whether you’re focused on your health or wealth, even a simple investment could pay off dividends for years to come. However, there are so many ways to invest in yourself it could be difficult to decide where to begin.
Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis, though. Consider the following options, choose at least one that you think could benefit you, and get started as soon as possible.
Invest in your education
When you’re considering how to invest in yourself, education could be front and center. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher levels of education can correlate with lower unemployment rates and increasing weekly earnings. If you’re looking for a formal education, you could apply and enroll in a degree or certification program at a community college, career school, or four-year university.
But there are also less formal ways to invest in your education:
- Head to the local library. Checking out and reading books from a local library is a simple and free way to continue your education. Some libraries also host free or inexpensive classes.
- Listen to podcasts. Whether you want to learn a new language, start a business, or keep up with the news, there are many free, high-quality podcasts that will keep you entertained and engaged.
- Take college-level classes online. You could enroll in a massive open online course (MOOC) and take courses taught by professors from around the world. Whether you want to expand your knowledge or are looking to learn skills that could advance your career, Coursera and edX are good places to start. You can find self-paced and pre-scheduled courses, and there are free options as well as paid courses that offer certifications or college credit.
- Learn a handy skill. YouTube can also be an incredible resource if you’re looking to learn a new skill. Best of all, the videos are free and could lead to significant savings. For example, you can find step-by-step instructions for fixing household appliances or cars and do straightforward repairs on your own.
Create a regular self-care practice
If you’re trying to figure out how to invest in yourself, creating and following a self-care practice can leave you feeling good inside and out.
Self-care can encompass both your physical and mental wellbeing, and you may want to figure out what will most effectively match your abilities and address your needs. Here are a few ideas to spark your thinking:
- Set tech-free times. Getting away from computers, phones, and TVs could help you reconnect with yourself and others. Perhaps set aside time in the morning or evening when you can disconnect from tech.
- Regularly exercise. Regular physical activity can help relieve stress, improve sleep, and offers a variety of health-related benefits. You don’t necessarily need to hit the gym, either. Making a practice of regularly walking and taking the stairs could be enough of a change to see benefits.
- Change habits. A small change in your habits can be a powerful long-term self-investment. Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” has written and spoken extensively on how habits work, and how you can break bad habits or create healthy new habits.
Take control of your finances
- Organize your debts and create a plan to pay them off. Many households are paying down several debts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages. Start by listing each debt, the total amount owed, the required monthly payments, and the annual percentage rate (APR). You can use this information to help determine which loans you should focus on paying off first.
- Start a budget. A budget can help give you day-to-day control over your money as you know what’s coming in, where and when you’re spending money, and how much will be leftover.
- Learn about credit. Understanding how credit works and how you can improve your credit scores. Higher scores can help you qualify for a variety of financial products and could help you get the best rates and terms if you need to borrow money in the future.
RISE’s free financial wellness resources and tools can help you invest in yourself. You can learn about different aspects of personal finance in the blog, download and use the free budget templates, and sign up for Credit Score Plus, which lets you track one of your TransUnion® credit scores and receive free TransUnion® credit alerts.