As I approach the end of my twenties, the conversation I have been having with myself about saving and investing has changed. I always felt like 30 seemed so far away and that all of that advice to start investing early didn’t apply to me just yet. But, here I am, less than a month away from that milestone birthday, and I feel like I have a fair bit of catching-up to do.
My twenties were a time of constant change and exploration. I made a handful of hard left turns away from the teaching career I grew up thinking I would have. I moved from my childhood home and from my circle of friends to a new city. I finished grad school. I got married. I landed and quit a few jobs. Now I find myself nearing 30 and thinking, “Crap, it’s time for me to start investing!”
Think you are too young to start thinking about investing? You’re not and you probably already have.
When I look back at the past decade and think of the financial investments I didn’t make, I realize that not all investments you will make in life can be counted in dollar amounts. Our lives are not one big stock portfolio – they are a collection of people, experiences, things, and actions –and I realize that I have been making investments all along. They just haven’t always involved money.
Throughout your life you can invest your time, money, and resources into things that are going to make your life fuller, more efficient or more stable. And as your life moves along, your investments are made in different areas depending on what resources you have in excess. Sometimes you have way to much time on your hands, on occasion you share your expertise with someone and, every once in a while, you stumble across an extra few hundred dollars that you don’t know what to do with. In general, the investments you will make in your 20’s will look different than what they will be when you are in your 40’s and maybe (hopefully) have lots of disposable income.
So, regardless of where you have been in the past and where you strive to be in the future, here are 5 things worth investing in now:
It’s no secret that education is directly correlated to your potential lifelong earnings so investing in your education should be pretty high on your list. That being said, I’m not suggesting that you run out and apply for another degree. As a former educator, I fully realize that higher education is not for everyone and value education in all of the forms it can take. The bottom line is that the more knowledge or skills you can acquire, the better.
Register for that Photoshop class you keep getting emails about, take the social media workshop you’ve been eyeballing, or go a little bit bigger and get that next degree or certification. Choosing to invest in your education is never a bad idea because you will come out the other side as a more competent, qualified and capable individual.
A Proper Interview Outfit
First impressions matter and making a killer one as a young professional is essential! When you are first entering the working world (let’s face it) there are lots of things working against you. You look young. You struggled to fill a one-page resume. You are interviewing against people who have more education and more work experience. You just want someone to give you a chance! So make a strong first impression by looking as polished and professional as you are. You’ll feel more confident walking into that interview room knowing that you look the part.
If you’re anything like me, you always have questions:
How do I write a strong resume?
Where do I pay my small business taxes? Am I on track?
Whether you have questions about how to grow your business, how to break into a new career field or if you just need some honest guidance or advice, don’t hesitate to invest in the expertise of others. Book a few sessions with a career coach, have a resume writer polish your credentials, work with a social media manager or a book keeper or pay for an online studio or project management tool. Invest in the resources that will help you learn new skills, delegate tasks, or grow as an individual.
This is my number one – investing in YOURSELF! Everything is secondary to having a healthy body and mind because, without these things, what does anything else mean?
You put in so much effort to accomplish your personal goals, have your work noticed, and produce high quality products and services but are you taking the time to invest in your health? Make sure that you are setting aside some of your time and money to refill the human resources that you are passionately giving out. And it’s easy to do.
Invest in a gym membership close to home so that it is convenient to get your work out in. Buy yourself new equipment to become re-energized about cycling, surfing or whatever it is you love doing. Take a weekend trip and leave your computer at home so that you can unplug and recharge your mind. Schedule an appointment with a counselor if you are struggling with something. All of these things are positive investments in your physical and mental well being which is essential for a happy life!
Your Financial Future
And, yes, you do need to start saving as soon as you can. I’ll save you the Google search and give you a quick run down of the difference between starting to save at 25 versus 35.
“Say you start at age 25, and put aside $3,000 a year in a tax-deferred retirement account for 10 years – and then you stop saving – completely. By the time you reach 65, your $30,000 investment will have grown to more than $472,000, (assuming an 8% annual return), even though you didn’t contribute a dime beyond age 35.
Now let’s say you put off saving until you turn 35, and then save $3,000 a year for 30 years. By the time you reach 65, you will have set aside $90,000 of your own money, but it will grow to only about $367,000, assuming the same 8% annual return. That’s a huge difference.”
Prioritizing where you are going to invest your assets can feel like a competitive game of chess where you are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the game. Don’t look at your investments as a competition with your bank account; rather, see the value of making investments where you can as a long term investment in yourself. So start investing now with whatever you have in excess and you’ll reap the high returns.