Five Ways to Invest in Yourself

If your idea of investing in yourself is to take a Buzzfeed quiz in the bathroom, here are five ways to take the investment further—some without ever leaving the bathroom!

  1. Watch a Video. Instead of another cat video, try watching a leading personal development expert in your industry. Try to find ones that will leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged.
  2. Read: Close your emails and pick something with the purpose of learning something new. Learning well past formal schooling can be fun. Websites such as Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare all allow visitors to take online courses for affordable rates such as $30 per class. If that’s not appealing, try picking up a book. There are studies that show reading increases analytical skills and reduces stress. The New York Times best-seller list is usually a great place to start, but feel free to use this opportunity to ask your friends and colleagues what books they’re reading right now.
  3. Listen to a Podcast: There’s a podcast these days for just about any topic. Everything you’re your finances to true crime and spirituality. You can listen and learn anywhere. On the road, while doing laundry, at the gym. Check out my article titled “Get Inspired with Podcasts” on a few podcasts I recommend.
  4. Mentorship: Okay, these last two require you to leave the bathroom. But having a mentor relationship can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and achieve a better work-life balance. Find someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve and model yourself after them. And if you can’t find someone to model, then be a mentor for someone else.
  5. Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community by helping others, while developing new skills. Expand your network with other like-minded people who are also growing personally and/or professionally.

Finding purpose helps give our lives and goals meaning. Some people may find happiness by reading a new book, and some by coordinating a new youth program within their community. It’s extremely important to have clarity and focus or else it becomes easy to become unhappy with certain aspects of our lives. Hopefully you have some new ideas for ways to reinvest in yourself.



Get Inspired with Podcasts

Between morning bathroom schedules, the rush of getting to work and school on time, and all the sports and extra-curricular’s making demands on our lives, there is less free time to take a breath and reflect on life. Podcasts allow you to take back the time you spend commuting, folding laundry, or even trudging on the treadmill. Here are a few podcasts I recommend to get you started.

The Dave Ramsey Show: Dave Ramsey is a financial expert who ways to get out of debt and build wealth to achieve financial freedom. For more on this, check out my article titled “5 Steps to Financial Freedom.”

TED Radio Hour: Experts in their respective fields share ideas, tips, insights, and stories centered on innovation in a variety of industries. You get to hear from game changers like the founders of Google to rock climbers.

Stuff You Should Know: One of my best friends is a collector of licenses. She’s a life-long learner and she told me about this podcast one day and I’ve been hooked ever since. Want to learn more about how the world works? Tune in for lessons on topics from how to make ice cream to the geothermal dynamics and the redistribution of energy.

The great thing about podcasts are how many options there are out there. These don’t interest you? Ask around or search until you find something that clicks. Don’t let another treadmill session go to waste!

Five Steps to Financial Freedom

Quick. Right now. If something were to happen—a car breaks down, an unexpected vet bill, the Nordstrom Anniversary sale—would you be able to take care of it without using credit? If you are one of roughly 62% of American who have $1,000.00 or less in their savings account[1], you are probably already aware how difficult it can be to stretch for large purchases (including those shoes), unexpected bills, and let’s not even mention your retirement. To make matters worse, cost of living in Charlotte has increased. The average house in Charlotte now cost’s an average of $188,900[2], and our income growth has not kept pace. It’s enough to send anyone to the sale section for a consolation purchase. Can’t get a house, but check out my new whisky glasses.

But before you click over to Nordies, consider this: financial freedom is a game of small steps, not one big one. Much like any lifestyle change (inward groan), we have to make small movements for long term goals.

First step is simple: Know where your money is going. Separate out your fixed expenses (monthly debts combined with annual debts, divided into twelve months) from last month’s extra’s (the morning coffee, restaurants, and yes, those shoes). Combine the total expenses and compare that to your monthly income. How does that look? Frightening? Having heart trouble? Or about what you expected? Either way, you can take this information and….

Second: Set a budget. And not one in your head. Turns out, we’re really good at pretending to have a budget and then basically shoving it behind mental tasks like Candy Crush.[3] Reduce the impact of surprise bills and plan ahead for fun purchases, by making a budget and revisiting it regularly. A good rule of thumb is to revisit your previous month’s budget at the first of every month. This keeps your financial goals and how to get there, front and center.

Step three: Find ways to save. Here’s where you can get creative. Something as simple as turning out the lights when leaving a room can make a difference in those recurring monthly expenses. Other ideas include: changing all your lightbulbs to energy efficient ones, and turning off your HVAC and water heater if leaving for more than two days. Commit the projected savings to an emergency fund.

Four: Commit to automatic savings. In other words, pay yourself first. It is easy to forget to transfer money, so set up automatic savings and transfer any additional money on top of this amount.

Finally, Pay off debt. Barely half of Americans have enough cash saved to cover their credit card debt.[4] “Even though some debts like mortgage or student loan debts are considered “good” debt because they are investments, credit card debt is seen as a problem for many Charlotteans,” says _____ of _____.  (was uncertain of this quote)

Like any long-term change, where we are today decides much of where we will be tomorrow. Change your financial future by following these five steps today.