By Jeff Rose
If you’re looking for ways to improve your life, the internet offers a treasure trove of advice and ideas. Unfortunately, you have to wade through almost too much online guidance and a ton of hype to find the type of advice that suits your talents and goals.
Still, there’s some advice that transcends nearly every age group and every personality. Some investments you can make with your time can pay off in spades, no matter where you’re at in life or where you want to go.
As a financial advisor, I strongly suggest you invest in yourself if you want to achieve your goals. Here are some of the best investments of time and energy to consider:
1. Invest in your education.
A college degree may not be worth the same as it was decades ago, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to learn. By investing in your education, you can learn about new ideas altogether or gain a greater understanding of the industry you work in. By earning a certification or taking courses, you could improve not only your income, but your job prospects, too.
As a financial advisor, one way I invested in my education was by becoming a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP®. I spend months studying to earn this credential, mostly because I knew it was the best way to improve my skills so I could help my clients better.
The side effect of that is the fact that I am able to make more money as a financial advisor, and that my clients tend to have greater trust in me due to my additional education and advanced credentials.
No matter what industry you work in – or what industry you’re working toward – make sure to find out how expanding your educational horizons could leave you better off. We’re never too old to learn, and many times, pursuing education is well worth it.
2. Invest time into networking with others.
Several years ago, I moved slightly outside my comfort zone to try something new. Basically, I joined a networking group called The Strategic Coach.
While I wasn’t sure what could come out of it, I’ve since come to believe that the investment into networking I made was one of my best investments yet. By meeting other people with similar goals as mine, I was able to become inspired and reach my potential.
No matter your niche or your personal or career goals, it never hurts to reach beyond your immediate circle to network with others. You never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet, and there are times when new connections might even change the course of your life.
As you grow in your career, try not to stick with your tiny circle or avoid making new friends. Sometimes the people you meet can help you change and grow, and perhaps you could do the same for them.
3. Invest in good credit – because you’ll need it.
Too many people treat their credit as an afterthought when they should really be giving their credit top priority. This includes simply knowing your credit score. Without good credit, you may struggle to qualify for a mortgage, car loan, or a personal loan you can use to achieve any number of goals.
The best way to invest in good credit is to access credit regularly and treat your credit with respect. Pay all of your bills early or on time, and only borrow what you can afford to pay back.
Also make sure to set up an appropriate mix of credit. If you have a credit card already, for example, getting a personal loan for a specific purpose, and staying on track with payments, may help you improve your credit mix.
4. Read books to learn and grow.
Another investment that always pays off is an investment in knowledge, specifically through reading. No matter what industry you work in or what your individual interests are, there is so much to be gained from reading books that offer unique perspectives.
Many of my lightbulb moments as a financial advisor came into play after I read popular money books like Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and The 4-Hour Workweek. Each of these books taught me to see things from a new angle. I was then able to use that information to become better at my job and improve financial outcomes for my clients. Finally, I took the plunge to author my own book on personal finance a few years ago. The book is called Soldier of Finance and it teaches people how to get their money straight while also investing for the future.
Books only cost…what… $10 or $15? That’s not a lot to spend to learn something new or get a different take on an idea you already have.
5. Take time to learn about investing.
Investing is another area where it will absolutely pay off to spend some time learning the ropes. In my experience as a financial advisor, far too many people invest only in their work-sponsored 401(k) and never think about investing again or how they could maximize their returns. Unfortunately, this can leave you dramatically unprepared by the time you get to retirement age. And by the time you learn you’re not really ready, it may be too late.
I always suggest my clients educate themselves on money matters as quickly as they can – even if they hire me for my professional expertise. By learning about the stock market, the intricacies of stocks, and bonds, and types of retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, they can find ways to maximize the money they invest.
It never hurts to learn about alternate investing ideas like real estate, real estate investment trusts (REITs) or virtual currencies. Basically, the more you know, the more prepared you’ll be to build real wealth via the various investing platforms and opportunities you have today.
6. Invest in your health.
A final area of our lives that never gets enough attention is our personal health. Unfortunately, this is one area where the steps we take (or don’t take) now can dramatically affect our quality of life down the line. If you don’t take care of yourself, never exercise, and eat fried foods or fast food all the time, for example, you could spend your later years enduring one health crisis after another, from diabetes to heart disease.
And don’t forget, health care can have a tremendous financial impact as well.
An investment in your health is one that will always pay off, and taking steps to get healthy isn’t rocket science, either. This is one area where reading a few books can absolutely pay off, whether you borrow books about exercise, nutrition, or coping mechanisms for stress.
And, investing in your health doesn’t have to be boring, either. I work out 3-4 times per week and I have grown to enjoy it and use that time to blow off steam. I also stay in shape by playing a ton of sports with my boys, which comes with the dual benefit of being able to spend more time with them.
So, invest in your health and into taking care of the only body you’ll ever have. While the small steps you take to get healthier don’t seem important today, they could mean the difference between living longer or never seeing your grandchildren – between spending your retirement doing what you enjoy, or spending it in bed.
Don’t take chances with your health; instead, invest some time into improving it today.