When you invest in yourself, it means you put in time, resources, or energy into the person you want to be. In the same way you invest money into a savings or retirement account, you can also make moves to focus on you and your development. Here are 21 ways to invest in yourself that don’t cost a thing!
1. Learn a new skill or level up what you’re already great at
Ever feel a spark of inspiration to start something new? That’s your creative self saying, “I want to learn more!” Whether it’s a hobby that has gone by the wayside, or an interest you haven’t spent time on, you can invest in yourself by learning.
Lifehack author Royale Scuderi calls it a “skill-investment.” While you may not immediately see a return in the form of money, building your skills means you’re investing in your long-term abilities, skills, and happiness. Consider these ideas to invest in yourself:
- Take a free online class (though HarvardX, Coursera, Youtube, etc.)
- Read through your newspapers, periodicals, and social media feeds for seminars or community events (and what financial aid is available if they cost anything!)
- Think outside the box of your normal interests. Have you ever considered taking a personal finance or retirement savings class?
2. Take control of your money
Most people experience financial stress in their lives, and right now, most Americans are stressed about their money. Financial stress can ripple into every aspect of your life. Here are some ideas on how to invest in yourself and your financial future:
- Make a list of all of your debts and credit card balances to understand what you owe
- Create a basic budget that you can manage month over month
- Figure out how to reduce your monthly expenses (like negotiating utility bills or canceling subscription services you don’t use)
- Put together a small savings plan and savings account that allows you to make small $1 or $5 deposits every few days
- Explore debt consolidation options like personal loans or balance transfer credit cards
- Make a list of all of your financial goals – like paying off debt, saving for a deposit on a house, putting more money towards retirement
Learn more: Financial Stress & How to Navigate Money Anxiety
3. Invest in yourself by setting realistic goals
Sure, goal setting sounds cheesy. But goal setting has stuck around because it works. Whether it’s a personal, financial, career, or relationship goal, take a few minutes to write down a plan. Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting up goals:
- What do you really want to achieve?
- When do you want to accomplish that goal?
- Who in your life do you think can support you (for morale or in helping you achieve it)?
- Do you have everything you need to get there? Do you need education or resources to help you?
- Are there any limitations that could hold you back?
Having a plan and knowing what you’re up against are some of the best ways to arm yourself in setting goals and making them stick.
Learn more: How to Set Up Financial Goals for Success
4. Take a moment for yourself
Have you ever found yourself realizing that everything you do in a day is for other people? Our lives are often shared by others, and that’s a great thing! But, if you’re finding yourself feeling drained or just like you need some time for you, consider investing in mental self.
Often called mindfulness, taking a moment to reset can do wonders for your mental health. Think of it as exercise for your mind. While it won’t result in all your problems solved, $100 more in your bank account, and all your bills paid off, taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to invest in yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Take the last 15-30 minutes of your day to unwind, reflect, or meditate.
- During car rides, turn on a thought-provoking or educational podcast
- Schedule 5 minutes during your lunch break or early in the morning to revisit your goals or think about recent accomplishments
- Watch or listen to a guided mediation or yoga instruction
- Keep a steady journal (Yes, it can be hastily written ramblings in your notebook or phone’s notes app. There are no rules to journaling!)
5. Keep going, and celebrate what you’re already doing well
Sometimes we are already on the right path, but we just need a little extra motivation to keep going. Perhaps, you’re simply due for a reward. Investing in yourself doesn’t always have to mean putting in the hard work. We all deserve a little kudos for what we are doing right! Here are some ideas to celebrate how much you’ve already done to invest in yourself:
- Tell trusted friends, colleagues, or your social media about what you’ve already accomplished
- Treat yourself to something you only reserve for special occasions (Think: Cooking or baking your favorite dish, using items in your pantry for a self-care home remedy night)
- Make your usual phone call or get-together with a friend a mini-celebration for what milestone you recently crossed.
- Hack your progress by splitting up your goals into smaller pieces that allow you to reach milestones sooner (so you can celebrate sooner!)
It’s hard to sometimes see the progress we’ve made. We’re hardwired to want to enjoy life, but it can be hard to savor it. Investing in yourself can help you focus on what you want in the long-term, while allowing yourself to still be able to enjoy today.