What is the best investment you could ever make? Historical analysis suggests an investor in the U.S. stock market can reasonably count on an average annual return of 8-10%. To get that, I’ll have to weather down periods in the market. It’s would be worth it knowing the good years will balance out the lean years to achieve that return.
While the stock market is a great creator of wealth, it’s not the best investment we can ever make. Nor is it land, rental properties, CDs, bonds, or commodities. None of those will bring the level of return needed to really succeed in our life, in our career and with our finances.
There is one investment that outshines them all in terms of total lifetime return. That’s the investment you make in yourself. Nothing will move you forward quicker, push you farther and have more lasting impact than the time and money spent on oneself.
Why Investing In Yourself Is the Best Investment
An investment in oneself is a guaranteed return every time. That’s why I like it so much. Whatever I choose to do, I know it will produce a tangible result that will make me a better person in the end.
Investing in myself will help me gain knowledge. It will build confidence as I have success with new things. It will teach me lessons I could never have learned otherwise.
And it has the chance to produce financial returns far better than what I could have received in the stock market.
That last reason investing in yourself is the best investment relates to the advancement of a one’s career. A person’s career is the biggest wealth generating mechanism they will ever have. Because it is so, it’s worth pouring money into so that more can be earned going forward.
This isn’t just theory…it’s fact in our household.
Four years ago, Mrs. Luke148 decided she wanted to switch careers from high school math teacher to CPA. That’s a pretty big leap, one that was incredibly scary to pursue. We knew it would take considerable financial capital for her to return to grad school. However, there was no way she could pursue that position without a great sacrifice of money. So we decided to invest in tuition payments for her classes.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! Her salary now as a CPA is significantly higher than what she made as a teacher. Better yet the prospects for career advancement going forward are limitless, bound only by her personal desire for what she wants to become.
More importantly, the side benefits of her career change are beginning to unfold, as it is one contributing factor that has allowed me to become a stay at home dad.
For those who like numbers and might be pushed by seeing some math, think of it in these terms. If you can double your salary from $30,000 to $60,000 per year, that’s a difference of $600,000 over 20 years assuming no raises whatsoever. That number becomes even more significant when we consider the excess earnings could then be invested in the stock market generating the 8-10% returns I mentioned above.
Ways to Invest in Yourself
As I’ve already showed, paying for further education or a certification of some kind to advance your career is one way to invest in yourself. But there are a great many ways to gain the knowledge or experience you need to move forward in life and improve your financial picture. Here are a few others I thought of:
1. Read great books. Research shows us that the average millionaire reads one book a month. That’s certainly doable and relatively inexpensive.
2. Listen to podcasts. This is quickly becoming my go-to medium for learning. Find one that works for you and listen to them in the car, when you prepare dinner, as you get ready in the morning or right before bed.
3. Eat healthier and exercise. You won’t have the energy and stamina to tackle challenges if junk is going into your body and your muscles are lying dormant.
4. Join a club, social organization or other like-minded community. This action is all about helping connect with others. Opportunities often come not by what you know but by whom you know.
5. Attend conferences in your field. These are generally cheaper than a full-blown education and can provide the necessary training you need. Plus, it’s another great place for making connections. I’ll be following my own advice this September when I attend FinCon, a peer conference for the financial news media.
6. Enhance your spiritual side. In addition to the physical body, the soul needs to be strengthened so it can endure difficult times ahead. So meditate, read the Bible, go to your local church and share with others what is on your heart.
7. Find accountability partners, a mentor or life coach. These people are designed to keep you focused and on track. More importantly, they can often provide that little push we are unable to give ourselves.
8. Replace some bad habits with new ones. We all have junk in the closet that needs to go. Identify it and build some good habits to blot out the bad.
9. Practice gratitude. We are so blessed already. Dwell routinely on what you do have not on what you don’t.
10. Learn the basics of a new language. In our ever-diversifying society, employers need people with language skills. This could be something that stands out on your resume.
11. Take a personality test. You may not know in which direction to proceed until you know more about yourself. This test has proved especially valuable to me.
12. Get organized, set schedules and learn to develop goals. You can’t move forward unless you are on top of your daily routine and have some targets to hit. He who aims at nothing will hit it every time.
13. Participate in activities that promote peace and relaxation. Listen to music. Go for walks. Get a massage. Write. Cook. Paint. Go to a museum. Do yoga. Lay out at the beach. Whatever…just relax and recharge.
14. Play. Life’s going to get dull real fast if you don’t let your hair down every once in awhile. Enjoy some moments of frivolity simply for the fun of it.
There are times when focusing on yourself is the best investment you could make. It’s OK to be a little selfish in this regard. Figure out what you need to move forward and do it. Some great returns are waiting.
Questions: What are you currently doing to invest in yourself? What has proved most valuable in the past? Have you ever considered investing in yourself is the best investment you could make?