I have learnt a thing or two about investing in the last few years. I could give you a full list of where and how to invest your money. Instead, I decided to list a few things that I consider to be the best investments in life. So if you don’t do anything else, just do these and you’ll reap the highest interest!
What is an Investment?
In the most general terms, an investment is putting resources (time, money, effort) into something that will pay off bigger returns later.
Investments pay you pack, expenses are just resources spent.
Consequently, you want to invest in something that you can benefit of later. Investors are happy to spend their money because they understand the value and potential of their contribution.
Always Invest in Yourself!
If you just take away one thing: Always invest in yourself!
Investing in yourself is like growing a garden. You have to be good soil for all good things in your life to grow. Nothing can grow in a desert, and you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Investing in yourself is always money well spent, no exceptions. You are your only and biggest asset. We only have this one shot in life and we should live to our full potential.
Make yourself a priority. This is not selfishness. Whenever you doubt if you should spend time or money on yourself, stop and please just do it!
The first thing I used to be super stingy about was myself. I denied myself buying anything for myself, whether a book, a course, clothes, food… I didn’t spend money on things I wanted and needed that did not fall into the category of keeping the lights on and a roof over my head. Mistakenly, I treated them as ‘luxuries’ I can go without. Big mistake!
The moment I stopped spending money on myself, I stalled my growth and development. Today, I know so much better that without investing in myself, I would have never become the person I am today.
#1 Invest in Your Health
Your first wealth is health!
It is easy to neglect ourselves when we have a million other things to do. Our own wellbeing is usually put last on our agendas.
There was a time in my life where I was on coffee and instant soup all day every day because I didn’t want to spend money on food. Skimping on myself and my health was the only way I could reduce my expenses. I was alive but I wasn’t living because all I could think of is how I could spend even less money. So on some days I wasn’t eating at all. The only way to save was on myself. No surprise my energy and resilience was at its low point, which at some point made me seriously sick because my body couldn’t handle it anymore.
While I still can go without food (Intermittent Fasting), I curate my lifestyle in such a way to give me the most energy, so my body can keep up with my plans. I have so many things in my head, and I can’t do any of it if my body doesn’t cooperate.
We need good quality fuel to perform our best. Neglecting yourself is a downward spiral.
You don’t have to eat lots and spend tons of money on good food. This is one of the common myths out there: that healthy food is expensive.
So I started eating simple but healthier stuff. You don’t’ need fancy supplements and the newest trend foods to get all the nourishment you need.
Don’t skimp on your diet. Your body is the most precious thing you have. It protects you and keeps you alive. Eating well and taking care of it is the ‘rent’ you pay to your body for living in it.
This does not stop at just physical health, mental health is just as important. Everybody talks about fit and healthy bodies, nobody talks about a healthy mind. I am so glad that mental health has been a more prominent and talked about topic on the media lately.
I have made it a habit to schedule time for my ‘mental hygiene’ to clear up my mind and my thoughts regularly. It is easy to stay in a constant rush and do the next thing on our to-do list without ever taking a break. Our society has programmed us that way. Checking a lot off your to-do list is not productivity.
Take care of your mind just like you take care of your body.
#2 Invest in Your Education
10 years ago, I borrowed -and binge-read- a book (no, it was not ‘The Secret’) from a friend and my life has not been the same since. I can honestly say that this one single book has been the catalyst for my entire transformation in the last decade. Because of that one book, I started making changes in my life and reading more on that topic. Without education, I would’ve not changed my field of study, not switched careers, not changed my money story and most probably not have the life I have today.
Knowledge is true power. Whether it is higher education, a degree or certification… in the end, these are just papers. I considered my MBA to be an entry ticket to the career I wanted. But true knowledge is not on a piece of paper.
The most essential and life-changing stuff I have learned was outside the classroom (and way less expensive!). My true knowledge today is what I have taught myself by self-education. I know fellow MBAs who are total idiots and have no clue about life. And I know people with almost zero education who are world-leading in what they do. And in most cases, they taught themselves. Don’t rely on a piece of paper to qualify you for what you can do.
There is a significant difference between education and knowledge, knowing and understanding.
In life, we are never done learning. You don’t know what you don’t know. So invest in your knowledge, expand your horizon. You will learn to see things differently.
If I would’ve followed what teachers, counsellors and career guides said, I would be in a completely different (worse) place today. Trust me. Sometimes we need a push to dare to dream bigger.
One single book can change your life but reading many books will help you understand things in context. It can spark an interest in an area you didn’t even realized. It has a ripple effect. Even if you just take ONE thing away from a book, it is worth 100 times what you paid for it. And nowadays, you can get incredibly valuable information for free(!) on the internet through blogs.
Leaders are readers!
#3 Invest in Relationships
We as humans are social animals and we can only exist in a community.
Our entire world is based on the principle of sharing and exchanging resources. There is no business without relationships. You cannot receive value (= money) without giving value (product, service, etc.) to someone else first.
I am an introvert – hard to believe because I can be quite bubbly in social situations ;). And I used to hate networking! Stiff events of polite handshaking, fake smiles and exchanging business cards, where you know that nobody is interested in you, but what is in it for them.
Here’s the most important thing: Everything in life comes to us through other people. We live in a complex world today, but the principle of sharing and exchanging value is universal. It changed my life understanding this!
We rely on other people to survive. It starts with a mother feeding her baby. The food you buy in the supermarket comes from someone who grew it for you. You give your employer your time and expertise in exchange for money.
I’ve read a great study that shows that there is direct correlation between the size of people’s network and the money they make. This is just how the world works. You give value, you receive value. Opportunities come through other people. We cannot live (or thrive) alone.
Meeting new people has opened my world entirely. Just like reading books, talking to people who know a thing or two in their field, can expand your knowledge exponentially.
Today, I take every chance I get to talk to other people. I love picking their brains and learn what they know. It exposes me to different lifestyles and expands my horizon. I’ve had amazing opportunities coming my way because I made a connection with someone. And I love to help other people!
Investing in relationships always pays off. You make new friends, you learn something new.
Most people think that networking is adding people on LinkedIn. True connection is mutually beneficial. We are all human beings and we will naturally surround ourselves with people we like and trust. This is true for both your career and your private circle.
So build a network and connect with other people!
True connection cannot be bought or faked. You have to invest your time and energy into building meaningful relationships.
Spending Money on Yourself
Lastly, whenever you are second-guessing anything that will help you become better, just do it! Spend money on your health, wellbeing, education, travel. Take the course, buy the book and go get a massage.
When you spend money (= value), that value comes back to you at some point in some way. You give a clear sign to the universe that you are ready to take the next step. What you put out there, comes back in some way.
Investing in yourself is the best investment you’ll ever make! If you don’t invest in yourself, nobody will.
What do you consider worth investing in? What was your best/worst investment so far?