Invest in yourself: You’ll thank yourself later

The term “investing” triggers thoughts of stocks, high-yield savings accounts, and other highbrow banking terms that send a number of people into a frenzy. So let’s reframe it: Investing doesn’t have to mean committing your money with the hope of financial return. It can also mean spending time and effort to make something better.

Investing in yourself can make your life better and cost little to nothing at all. Here are 12 ways you can start investing in yourself—financially, socially, and personally.

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Table of contents

3 Ways to financially invest in yourself 3 Ways to socially invest in yourself 6 Ways to personally invest in yourselfFinal thoughts

3 Ways to financially invest in yourself

This doesn’t have to be all stocks and bonds—although financial planners can provide insights on the best ways to invest your money and achieve your goals, there’s a lot you can do on your own that will yield sustainable results. 

1. Establish a budget

If there’s only one financial investment you make for yourself, it should be a  personal budget that helps you control and track your spending habits. In the long run, financial literacy will allow you to build your savings, maintain an emergency fund, and make long-term financial goals such as investing in stocks and real estate, contributing to retirement, and paying off debt. 

To get started, assess your income, mandatory expenses, and the goal you’re trying to accomplish. Is saving your top priority, or is it managing your discretionary spending? Choose a system (such as the 50/30/20 budget) that aligns with your goals. 

2. Start saving

If you currently struggle with saving, reflect on your spending habits, then adjust so you can begin putting even a small amount into a savings account. If your paycheck is directly deposited into a checking account, reroute a certain amount into savings each pay period so you won’t be tempted to spend that money. 

If you still don’t have enough money to start saving, consider a side gig. This can be as easy as selling old belongings or turning one of your hobbies into a business. 

3. Eliminate debt

If you have loans or debts—whether it’s student loans, a car loan, or credit card debt—work on a plan to pay them off as soon as possible. Not only will this save you money on interest, but it will help you improve your credit score. Budget at least the minimum payment per month. The higher the payments you’re able to make, the more you’ll decrease the time and money that go toward interest. 

There are methods to expedite this process, including debt consolidation, balance transfers, or requesting a lower interest rate from a credit issuer. There can be downfalls to these as well, so do your research first.

3 Ways to socially invest in yourself

Investing in yourself may seem like an independent task, but it’s equally crucial to invest in the people you surround yourself with.

1. Surround yourself with good friends 

Personal goals and dreams are just that—personal. However, everyone has experienced burnout or low self-esteem. When this happens, good friends reassure you and push you to achieve your full potential. They're more likely than casual acquaintances to be active listeners  or challenge your ways of thinking. 

It’s also prudent to separate yourself from toxic relationships. Most relationships will come with their own challenges, but if one is wearing you down, it might be time to let it go. Free up your time for the people who bring you joy, comfort, and support. 

2. Develop a professional network 

Keeping in touch with members of your network helps you diversify your skill set, meet potential clients and mentors, and stay up to date on the news in your industry. Your network may consist of current or former colleagues, close friends and family members, former classmates and professors, and members of professional organizations. Attending events, making personal and virtual connections, and asking for help are key ways to expand your network.   

Finding a mentor is vital for professional growth and success. Once you have an idea of your goals, tap into your existing network and ask for suggestions on achieving those ambitions. 

Once you find a mentor, have consistent, efficient meetings and pay attention to their feedback, whether it’s positive or constructive. The goal is to learn from their professional experiences to propel your own. 

3. Build rapport with people in your life

For people in your life who are more than acquaintances but not your closest friends—picture a coworker or possibly a roommate—it’s important to build rapport. When getting to know someone, you should be genuine and curious, yet respectful of their boundaries. Investing in relationships that entail trust and understanding rewards you with comfort, happiness, and key communications skills that apply to both your personal and professional life.

Signs pointing in different directions reading: family, health, money, work, and life.

6 Ways to personally invest in yourself

There are some things money and a social circle can’t achieve, which is why investing in personal growth is essential. By investing in yourself, you show others that you are worth their investment. 

1. Prioritize your health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical exercise reduces your risk for disease, depression, and anxiety; increases your lifespan; helps you sleep better; and sharpens your critical thinking skills. It only takes 30 minutes per day. Hit the gym, hike, swim, rock climb, do an online pilates video, or take a walk around your neighborhood. 

Healthy eating goes hand in hand with exercising by reducing your risk for diseases and fueling your body and mind. Incorporate vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein into each day, and minimize added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes up-to-date information on healthy eating, no matter your age, culture, or budget. 

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. It determines your productivity, as well as how you make decisions, relate to others, and handle stress. Daily meditation boosts emotional well-being and reduces negative emotions. Practicing gratitude by making a list of what you’re thankful for helps surface more positive emotions, develop strong relationships, and deal with adversity, according to the Harvard Business Review

Finally, invest in health insurance. Health insurance can cover the costs associated with routine doctors’ visits and helps in emergency situations. The upfront expense may be a pain, but the unexpected expense of uninsured healthcare can be far worse.  

2. Get creative 

According to Psychology Today, psychologists have found that most people’s creativity peaks in their mid-30s to 40s. Getting serious about adulting doesn’t mean the end of your innovative endeavors; in fact, it’s just the beginning. 

Learn a new instrument, hone your writing skills, plant a small garden, try your hand at pottery, shoot photography. There are infinite possibilities, and venturing outside your comfort zone is your best bet. That’s where personal growth happens.

While fostering creativity is a personal investment, it could also enable you to expand your friend group or launch a side gig for extra income, assisting with your social and financial investments as well. 

3. Continue your education

Never stop expanding your knowledge and expertise. There are plenty of cost-effective or free online courses that will bolster your toolkit. Read books, register for seminars and workshops, listen to podcasts and audio books, and watch positive, educational programming. 

Consider learning a new skill or strengthening your existing ones. Try out creative writing, debating, public speaking, or learning a new language. Continuous learning will not only aid you personally, it could help you professionally. 

4. Set goals 

Goals help you focus, organize your time and resources, and keep you motivated. They should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. To increase your chances of success, write down your goals.

Life can be unpredictable, so it’s okay—and even recommended—to allow for some spontaneity and flexibility. However, investing time in your goals for the day, month, and years to come can help you maintain your vision and ensure both short-term and long-term results.    

5. Declutter and organize

By eliminating unnecessary clutter, you decrease stress and anxiety levels and increase productivity. Declutter and organize your living space to reduce surfaces where dust and bacteria can accumulate, allowing you to breathe easier. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry r to aid with healthy food choices. Tidy your workspace to stay concentrated and motivated. 

6. Travel often

For people tight on time or sticking to a budget, travel can mean visiting a nearby town or national park. Travel—no matter how far you venture—can reduce stress, boost decision-making skills, and allow you to meet new people and try things you might not have otherwise tried. 

That being said, international travel—even traveling to another part of your own country—is a worthwhile investment. Visiting countries and cultures entirely unlike your own expands horizons, increases social awareness and cultural sensitivity, and builds confidence. Although a trip of this sort might put a bigger dent in your pocketbook, you will reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Personal, financial, and social investments will not happen all at once. Growth is a process, one that takes time, dedication, and creativity. You are the only one who can make the decision to invest in yourself, and now is the time to get started. 

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