What Wikipedia Won’t Tell You About Investing in Yourself

“Why would you spend money on two gym memberships?”

Invest in yourself

I get asked this all the time. Depending on the person, my response changes. I can easily fire back with one of the following questions.

Why the hell would anyone smoke cigarettes (or buy every random girl a drink)?

or…

Why would I buy a home I can’t afford that’s going to put me in debt for the next 40 years?

You get the point. Every single person is a hypocrite when it comes to money. We all have our own priorities and views on money. However, there’s one view that can’t be argued with.

What is this?

You should spend your money on investing in yourself in every way possible.

[Must read: The Studenomics MBA.]

Why is it mandatory that you invest in yourself?

“How much did your new pro wrestling tights cost?”

My parents asked me about my new tights. I told them the answer didn’t matter because I wanted to look professional. If you want to look a certain way, increase your income, or be in a better situation in the future, you’re going to have to spend some money.

You can’t always be frugal. You can’t hold back on certain areas of your life.

It’s mandatory that you invest money in yourself. Why?

Your network is your net worth.

I’ll stress this until the day I die. I have friends who have gotten ahead solely on their connections and just because of who they knew. I’ve also seen friends struggle just because they make enemies easily and are super-confrontational. Your network will always be your net worth and you won’t get anywhere in life if you don’t meet new people.

You need to upgrade your skills.

How are your skills right now? Regardless of how you answer this question, you can always improve yourself. To upgrade your skills, you’re going to have to spend some money. There’s a cap on how much you can figure out on your own. The rest you have to pay for.

More skills = more money.

You have to do whatever it takes to get ahead.

[Mandatory read: Are you willing to do whatever it takes?]

Where do I start? How do I invest in myself?

I get that investing in yourself is a pretty vague phrase. The good news is that you can keep it as simple as possible and not spend your whole paycheck.

A few ways you can start investing in yourself:

  • Join a new gym to take care of yourself, learn a new skill, make new friends, and have something to do so that you’re never bored.
  • Take people out for coffee so that you can pick their brain, make new connections, and never feel lonely again.
  • Take a successful person out for lunch because you’ll learn more in 30 minutes of conversation than hours of listening to a lecture.
  • Buy a book because everything you want to do has already been done by someone.
  • Go on a trip somewhere to recharge, experience a new culture, have fun, and come back a different person.

That’s where you can start investing in yourself. You can start off with only $5. You don’t have to enrol in graduate school and get into debt to improve your situation.

How much should you spend on yourself?

Whatever you can. It really depends on your financial situation.

If you’re a broke student, you won’t be able to go on trips or take people out for dinner. However, there’s nothing stopping you from taking folks out to coffee. You can easily spare a few bucks.

If you’re making money and want to get to the next level, you can’t be afraid to spend money. You always need to be upgrading your skills. You can’t be on cruise control because nothing fun happens in your comfort zone.

If you’re not making any money in a field, you need to do whatever it takes to propel yourself to the next level or to at least profitability.

When I started Studenomics, I only spent a few bucks on the hosting. I soon realized that I needed to spend some money on a design/logo. Now five years later from the first design, I’m currently ready to make another change.

[Suggested read: How-to start an online business with a few bucks.]

What do the experts have to say about investing in yourself?

I reached out to some friends to see what they had to say about this topic.

Todd of The Financial Mentor who has covered investing in your financial education wrote in with:

“I always invest in myself first. It is the one thing nobody can take away from me.

No matter what happens, I will always have the greater knowledge and personal growth that results.

The other thing about investing in yourself is it produces increased earning capacity that multiplies your wealth.

Because most savings results at the margin, small increases in earning capacity can result in mega-jumps in savings rates.”

Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents, where has covered investing in your 20s had to say:

“The best investment I’ve ever made has always been in myself. Earlier in my career (late 20’s) I invested time and money into getting my Certified Financial Planner designation. Traditionally, most CFP’s are 45+ and I wanted to show potential clients that I was serious about the financial planning process so I got my CFP and a much younger age. In hindsight, that investment has yielded a ROI that has exceeded anything I’ve made in the stock market.”

Stefanie of The Broke and Beautiful Life (no modesty) had to say this:

“I’m a big fan of percentage budgeting which forces you into funding all goals at all times, but I’ve got some pretty major professional projects I’ve been itching to get done that I know will require me to spend the majority of my limited cash store.”

My buddy Romeo from The Wealth Number wrote in with:

“What’s the point of locking your money away in a retirement account if you don’t have the liquid money saved or the knowledge and skills required to transition into the job you’d love when you’re finally tired of the job you hate?”

J Money of Budgets Are Sexy joined in with:

“I invest in myself by reading a lot and taking walks. The reading part helps me to keep growing and hopefully in a smarter way! And the walks help me to slow down life a little and let things soak in. Which in in the end helps me to take more action which is the important part of it all. All the reading is nice but if you don’t do anything with it then what’s the point? (Besides reading for pleasure, of course. But I’m talking about business/finance/etc reading).”

That’s how the experts do it. How will you invest in yourself?

Are you ready to invest in yourself?

Here’s your challenge. I want you to take $50 and invest it in yourself today. Report the results here.

The Solution to Insane College Costs and Endless Frustration (The Studenomics MBA)

Are you ready for the best education ever? Do you want to figure life out in your 20s without the insane costs and endless frustration of college?

What to do after college

I somehow managed to earn my degree debt-free in business. I wanted to pursue an MBA. I was ready for more education because everyone knows that’s what you’re supposed to do in your 20s.

However, after extensive research, I decided to create my own graduate school program instead of spending a fortune on further education.

I found this article over at the Washington Post on the decline in the importance of a college education:

“One of the more surprising findings was the declining belief that a college education today is very important. Just four years ago, 75% of Americans held that belief. Now, less than 50% said a college education is very important today.”

This doesn’t prove much. It just shows how our views are slowly changing.

You don’t need a student mortgage. You don’t have to be in debt forever. You don’t need to be stuck in this bubble.

While I’m 100% all about higher education, I understand that school isn’t for everyone. I struggled throughout high school. I have no idea how I managed to earn a degree. I don’t want you to struggle. I don’t want you to spend a fortune on an education if you don’t have to. I want you to know that you can give yourself a world class education without digging yourself into debt.

According to this article over at Forbes…

“The numbers say it all: Since 1985, the price of college has increased a staggering 538%. Average student loan debt is approaching $30,000 per grad. And more than 50% of recent grads are either jobless or underemployed.”

That’s freaking scary. Imagine adding a few more years of debt to that by pursuing even more studies? Yikes!

Another similar article shared a scary comment from a young college graduate, Michael Bledsoe has he serves customers coffee in Seattle…

“I don’t even know what I’m looking for.”

I don’t want you to be miserable, broke, and pissed off at the world. I have a solution to college/graduate school/your confusion for you. It’s the Studenomics MBA.

How do you earn the Studenomics MBA?

This is a self-managed program based on years of experience, dozens of books that I read, hundreds of wild characters that I encountered, and lots of vodka. I’ve made it a point to learn from the best the past few years. The best part is that you can have a better life than me if you just start today.

You have to complete all of these in order to earn this degree.

This is no joke. No cheating. No shortcuts. No excuses.

Master a new skill.

What to do after college

I want you to pick up a new skill. This can range from learning the guitar to grappling. I don’t care what it is. I want you to master this skill. I want you to become good enough that you can start teaching others.

That picture is of me getting beat up in a pro wrestling match by a beast. Pro wrestling is just one of the many skills that I’ve tried to learn after college.

I want you pick one skill and go after it. I don’t care how outrageous it may seem.

What’s the point of this? 

You’re going to meet new people, boost your confidence, have something to focus on, and increase your overall worth. One year from now you could become a guitar instructor… Or, you could keep on reading blog articles.

Study a new language.

I’m a huge fan of languages. I want you to become conversational in another language.

Download Duolingo right now on your phone or just sign up with an account on your desktop. Follow me, Studenomics, and start learning a language.

[Must read: 9 free language learning online methods.]

What’s the point of this? 

By only speaking one language you’re limiting your dating options!

Okay, well, besides the obvious reason, who doesn’t want to learn another language? That’s like the ultimate sign of sophistication. Speaking multiple languages separates the men from the boys.

Start a business and/or make money on your own.

There’s a huge difference between freelancing and starting your own business. Either way, I want you to try one of these. I want you to make money on your own. I want you to see what it feels like to be in control of your own income, your own time, and your own options.

There’s nothing like working for yourself or at least making a few bucks in your spare time.

What’s the point of this? 

Starting a business or freelancing will teach you more than any textbook possibly could. Anyone can study theory, memorize laws, and regurgitate the same information over and over again. It takes a real trailblazer to grab life by the balls and start a business that actually makes money.

Study a successful person.

Do you know any successful people?

You need to find someone successful and study them. Hang out with them, pick their brain, and figure out what makes them so successful.

What’s the point of this?

You can skip a ton of heartbreak and failure by just learning from someone else. Everything you could possibly want to do has already been done by someone. Why not take the faster route to your goals?

Mentor someone.

You can’t just consume all of the information. You need to give back as well! You need to take someone under your wing and help them become great at something. You could be a general mentor, help someone out in a sport you’re good at, or just be a helpful friend to someone.

What’s the point of this? 

You’ll learn a lot by giving back and helping someone out.

Travel by yourself.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Travel the world

That’s me in biking through Buenos Aires in November. One of the easiest ways to explore a new city and make friends is to go on a bike tour.

I’m a bit different when it comes to travel. I actually enjoy being at home. I don’t try to escape too often.

A few ways you can travel are:

  • Attend events. In 2014, I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland and FinCon in New Orleans. Both were excellent excuses to travel alone, meet new friends, and check another city off the bucket list.
  • Go somewhere to learn a skill. One of my friends went to Thailand to become a master at scuba diving.
  • Visit family/friends. I’m sure there’s someone out there you want to visit.

What’s the point of this? 

Traveling alone will do more for you than I could possibly explain in one blog article. I was afraid of traveling alone until I started in 2011. I now regret waiting so long. I’ve had some of the best times on the trips that I went on solo. I’ve met some of the coolest people and experienced things that I won’t even begin to explain here.

What are some recommended certificates that you can earn?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” — Oscar Wilde

You have to complete everything mentioned above. For some of you that might be too much. For some, it’s not enough.

You can also earn some certificates and take some additional courses. What are these?

Watch standup comedy.

There’s just something interesting about watching standup. These are some of the best public speakers on the planet. I recommend watching videos online and going to shows in person. Watch how they interact, improvise, and command the room.

Go out often and do it sober.

Stop hiding behind alcohol! Stop behind afraid of talking. Go out as often as possible. Go out alone. Talk to strangers. Make new friends. Do it all sober if you can.

The greatest skill that you can learn is to speak to people and to make friends.

[Mandatory read: The 100 Facebook friends challenge.]

Throw a surprise party.

I threw my parents a surprise party for their 25th anniversary. Throw someone a surprise party and watch the madness unfold.

Volunteer.

Give back. Stop being so cheap with your time and money. Do something good for others for once.

That’s all I could think of for now. Don’t be afraid to add something in the comments section.

How long is the Studenomics MBA?

This is a one year program, but, the reality is that it should take many years.

It depends on when you start and what your current credentials are.

Do you have to quit your job?

Not at all. You can do all of this while still working. I actually encourage that. You should never trust a charlatan online telling you to quit your job. What kind of careless advice is that?

Can you do this straight after high school?

Yes. You can save yourself a lot of money this way. You can also take the time to figure yourself out. There’s no sense in feeling guilty about taking time off after high school. I personally rushed throughout college. I wish I slowed down a bit.

My youngest brother is now out of high school and taking the year to work odd jobs, save up, and travel, before he goes back to school. I’m jealous of him for doing this.

Where do I start?

I’ve pumped out the best resources on the planet to help you figure everything out in your 20s when it comes to life, money, and partying. You have absolutely no excuses. The only thing stopping you is the same lame ol’ story that you tell yourself every single day. Studenomics isn’t for everyone. You can either read the following articles and apply them or you can go keep on wasting time.

How-to destroy self-doubt — We cover every angle when it comes to the excuses that you tell yourself and the limits that you place on yourself. You’re going to destroy that self-doubt. I won’t let you be a coward.

The A-Z on traveling the world — Are you ready to plan your first trip? This piece covers everything on this topic that even Wikipedia won’t tell you.

Start Freelancing Now — I turned my book into a free course that teaches you how to start freelancing. You’ll figure out how you can use your God-given skills (even if you don’t think you have any) to make some money.

The ultimate guide to financial freedom by 30 — I created a guide that will show you how to slap your debt around, make more money, and still never miss a party.

25 killer sites for a free online education — Free learning from some of the top educational resources on the planet.

What if I want help?

Are you looking for someone to help you earn the Studenomics MBA? Do you want someone to guide you through your 20s?

It doesn’t matter if you can’t find a job or hate your job or just want to get better at meeting people. I’m here to help you.

The doors to The Studenomics Academy are once again open. Limited spots are open so act fast. Also, please don’t waste my time if you’re not serious about this.

Imagine having me as your personal advisor?

Your move. What are you going to do? Are you going to earn the Studenomics MBA or will you continue wasting time?

“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” – Richard Branson

Smart Personal Financing to Protect You and Your Family

As the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 showed the nation, it’s critical to have your own savings net to cover some of the harder times in life. Every family should have a solid personal finance plan to weather life’s unexpected storms.

Basic Insurance Coverage.

Consider life insurance for the person generating most of the income. Look for a package that covers most of the household’s debts, including mortgages, student loans and credit cards. If that earner passes away, those debts become the family’s responsibility. The insurance pays out to cover those charges, making it easier to recover from the loss. Auto and home insurance policies are also smart choices to cover liability on the road or just around the house.

Actively Save.

Every paycheck shouldn’t be spent to the very penny. Try to create a percentage rate to save in a savings account. If 10 percent of each check goes into savings, you have an ample amount to cover certain emergencies, including a trip to the emergency room. Treat the savings percentage as a bill that must be paid. It manipulates the mind to think of the money as an allocation rather than free funds to use on a Saturday night.

Emergency Credit Cards.

Even if you aren’t a fan of credit cards, it’s crucial to have at least one for emergency purposes. If a car accident occurs, for example, you may need extensive funds to repair the vehicle, pay fees and cover medical bills. The credit card also helps your credit rating as it’s used and paid off. One card for each spouse is a perfect safety net for those emergencies.

Retirement versus College Savings Accounts.

If you’re deciding between savings accounts for retirement or college, it’s a smart choice to save for retirement. Children entering college can always apply for grants, scholarships and loans. Retirement doesn’t have many borrowing opportunities, making it a priority for older adults.

Learn more about healthy financial lives by researching savings and budgeting online. You’ll find many outlets to understand and organize all life’s necessities. Whether you’re saving for a vacation or undergraduate education, proper preparation is necessary to cover all expenses.

How To Get An Affordable Education

Citing Forbes, an article about surviving university with money left over had this to say:

“The numbers say it all: Since 1985, the price of college has increased a staggering 538%. Average student loan debt is approaching $30,000 per grad. And more than 50% of recent grads are either jobless or underemployed.”

Those are bleak numbers. There is no denying it. To an 18 year old just getting out of high school, the news many not seem as bad as it really is because that person does not yet have to face the stark reality of their economic situation: unemployment and financial hardship. Those facts are mitigated by student loans, grants, work-study programs, and generous access to the family credit card.

On the other side of college, the reality sets in. You just completed a degree in music theory with no prospects to make that pay off. You have a student loan to pay off, and no job. You can’t afford to live anywhere but with your parents. Huston, and every other city you can’t afford to live in, we have a problem.

Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate most of that problem by simply making different choices about your formal education from the beginning. There are ways to get an affordable education that is also useful preparation for your professional ambitions. Here are just a few important considerations:

Pay for the Degree, Not the Brand.

We sometimes forget that education is a business. It has to make a profit or justify its existence in some measurable way. As a business that has to make a profit, it has to provide a product. It is a mistake to believe that the marketable product of formal education is the education, itself. It is most definitely not. Thanks to near ubiquitous access to the Internet, there is almost nothing we cannot learn for free.

Universities sell branded certification. Your prior knowledge about everything to do with astrophysics does not get you a good placement in a well-funded lab. Your certification from MIT does. As education shoppers, we sometimes get caught up in the branding wars. The best way to avoid this is to focus on the degree and not the brand.

Quality and brand are not synonymous. This disparity is easily illustrated in more hand-on fields such as nursing or criminal justice. GMU, while not a national name, is one of the top criminal justice schools in PA. The quality produced by more intimate programs like these are great examples of less familiar brands with excellent reputations among professionals in the field. A large factor driving this higher quality is the number of industry professionals and adjunct professors who tend to stick with the more flexible teaching options of these schools. As a result, they can offer in-class and field training that few can match. Those are the types of assets to look for in a hands-on program

You can save thousands, and sometimes, tens of thousands, and get a more personalized experience in the bargain just by focusing on the degree and not the brand.

There’s No Place Like Home.

Students often have the urge to fly far away from the nest to make their own individual mark on the world. This is a great thing if you can afford it. Most cannot. The most rational and affordable thing to do is stay close to home, especially for the two-year core.

For one thing, you will have access to the local community college which is almost always significantly less expensive than a university. There are no bonus points for taking English 101 at a major university, even if you are an English major.

The other, and most obvious benefit to staying close to home is that you can continue to live at home for free. Living on campus can cost several thousand dollars per year. A shockingly high percentage of your tuition may be taken up by room and board. There is something to be said for saying home if possible.

Grow Up.

Maturity will save you money. The sooner you gain it, the more you will save. Maturity keeps you away from the expensive parties, hangovers, and DUIs that cost so much time and money. Maturity develops productive study and work habits that keep you on top of your lessons. You will not take summers off. You will finish sooner, and start your career before your classmates.

Growing up is the most economical thing you can do to secure an affordable education. But keeping it close to home and not getting caught up in the brand are not far behind.

The Logistics of Moving For College (Cheaply) Deconstructed

When I first moved into my college dorm, the process was so daunting that it kept myself and my family steadily procrastinating and unable to pull the trigger to figure out the complicated logistics. Going to college almost 2,000 miles away from my family lead to an almost cold-sweat inducing fear of just how were were going to accomplish such a daunting task.

We had options, sure: hire a moving company, ship the items via USPS, Fed Ex or UPS to the dorm, rent a car or moving truck and drive them cross country or just buy new stuff once I arrived.

To compound the stress of the move, my parents were selling their house after I left and moving to a retirement condo in Florida while I was away at school. This was essentially my chance to get what I could, and then say goodbye to the rest as they downsized. I mean, with me being the youngest of four, and them not needing a home so large with all of the kids out of the house, it made sense, but it didn’t make it any easier of a problem to solve.

To save you the frustration, the stress, and a lot of extra cash, I wanted to write a quick piece to detail just what we did in order to survive the chaos and get everything to me at a college nearly 2,000 miles away from my childhood home, all within a strict budget.

Storage Units are Your Friend.

There were items that I knew I might need again when I struck out on my own after school. My bed, a couch, desk and a few other odds and ends all went into a small storage unit, and for just a few bucks a month, they’ll be there for the next four years until I decide where I’m going, and when I want to retrieve them. Pro tip: opt for the climate controlled unit if it’s available to avoid mildew, mold, and broken electronics.

Downsize, Downsize, Downsize.

Getting rid of my childhood things was hard, but I’d imagine that it’s not any harder than most kids going away to college. It’s less about the actual items and more about the thought of leaving them – as well as your childhood home, your parents and your friends – while you went off to school. The process was difficult, but I managed to downsize a lot of what I owned through yard sales and charitable giving.

The rest went in the storage unit, or with me to my dorm (via moving truck). On the plus side, I managed to make over a thousand dollars for the random junk in my room that I didn’t need anymore. I used this to prepay for two years of my storage unit. Smart, right?

Let Pros Handle the Heavy Lifting (Literally).

Finding interstate moving companies that were affordable, reliable and efficient was an important part of the process. While there is no shortage of options, you want one with a good track record. In the end, I chose Mayflower, mainly due to the price and the online reviews. I’m happy with my choice and I think this was probably the easiest option of the bunch as I literally didn’t do anything other than pack (although they do that too if you want them to), hop a plane to school, and then meet the moving truck at the dorm and direct them where to put my stuff. It was about as stress-free as it gets.

In the end, the logistics behind the move – although much more complex than most college moves – wasn’t nearly as hard as I had feared. I feel that this process can help others faced with difficult moves – like mine – so that they aren’t wasting money in purchasing things that you already had once you were done with school, or facing the cost of moving all of you things across the country.

Knowing where you can save a nickel or two can go a long way toward financial freedom in the long run.