I work with money. I write about money. Every day, I strive to share information that I hope will help women all over the world Rise Above whatever financial quandaries they’ve found themselves in and push forward to a better future. It’s what I do, and I love it.
A lot of the money discussions on our site and via social media have to do with the cold hard facts; budgets, planning, and tactics for taking control of your personal finances. These things are CRUCIALLY important for every woman to know… without this kind of knowledge, we wouldn’t be able to manage how money affects our day to day lives. BUT, there is a part of everyone’s financial realities that I think is even more important than those black and white lessons:
Our internal strength.
It’s at the center of everything. We can have all the checklists and spreadsheets and data-driven tools in the world… we can even have clear goals and a killer plan tacked up on our bulletin board, but if we’re still carrying around a big pile of emotional baggage, that deep-down stuff will quell our chances of following through. After all, a budget is nothing more than a big list of meaningless numbers unless we have the inner fortitude to make the right choices and take the right actions every day.
This is why smart, fierce women who have the potential to kick some serious ass financially sometimes find themselves in places of financial struggle. I see it every day. There’s something inside that is holding them back, and most of them have no idea what it is or that it even exists, much less how to fix it.
It’s a fact: Our emotions and general feelings of self-worth have a direct effect on our pocketbooks. This is why investing in yourself — in building your internal strength — is so crucially important. It quite literally forms the foundation of our financial futures.
Here’s the real kick in the pants: Generally speaking, women don’t do this very well. And it’s not because they don’t want to or don’t think they need it. They just tend to invest their time and energy in the strength and success of others. After taking care of our kids, giving our skills through work, and giving our time and emotional energy to significant others, who has the time or energy, right?
Wrong. Investing in yourself matters.
It matters because you matter. YOUR LIFE MATTERS. And in order to serve your loved ones, your employers and yourself, you have to have the knowledge, skills and emotional strength first. Without internal strength, there will be no growth or progress. With it, you’re reinforcing the fact that you’re valuable enough to deserve it. And when you feel valuable, value finds you.
How to invest in yourself:
Rather than delving into tactics, let’s break things down a bit first. There are a lot of women out there that don’t invest in their own strength because the first thing that bounces around in their head is… “ok, this is going to be expensive.” But it really doesn’t have to be. At least not when you are first starting out.
Here’s what it takes:
Dedicated time. Willingness. Careful attention (to yourself). And yes… in some cases, money.
Time is the biggest reason women don’t start this process. We’re crazy busy, right? Time is our MOST valuable asset. So, if time is of value, but you’re not giving any of it to yourself… What does that say about your internal sense of value and worth? Invest the time. Prove to yourself that you are worth it.
We might think that everyone is willing to invest in their own strength, but the truth is that for many of us, this is the second most powerful block. Why? Because “change” in any form — even if it will result in a better life — is downright scary. Choosing to invest in yourself will require a different mindset, different habits, different dynamics with your loved ones, and sometimes even different people. In order to truly invest in your own internal strength, you’ll have to be willing to let some things go and accept the potential for change that others might bring.
Many of us aren’t used to giving ourselves careful attention. We go through life on autopilot, giving little thought to what we really want, need or require to feel strong and capable. Investing in yourself will require you to stop and pay attention to yourself EVERY DAY, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Whether it is something as simple as daily self-care like a hot bath or realizing that painted toenails make us feel better, or more in-depth attention like creating a strong budget or a 5-year life plan.
Maybe “careful attention” means that you decide to invest some of your valuable time to learn new things. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. If money is still tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t start learning TODAY. Non-fiction books hold an unlimited wealth of knowledge about just about any topic you might be interested in, from car repair to business success to spiritual guidance. There is one caveat: If you choose to invest in your growth through books, I highly suggest that you pick a topic that feeds your future growth rather than something that is just an escape. Fiction is fun (and we all need that), but investing in yourself means learning something that will help move you forward. I am an avid reader and feature a book review every month via social media. Check out some of my suggestions and let me know your thoughts. AND, you don’t even have to buy them! Public libraries (remember those big buildings with all of the books?) They’re FREE. Go get a library card. It just might change your life.
No matter how you choose to go about it, investing in yourself means snapping out of autopilot. Turn off the TV in the evenings and give yourself the attention you need so you can begin to visualize your future and the things that will help you grow.
Once you dedicate the time to give yourself attention… and are WILLING, you’ll begin to realize that investing in yourself financially is one the best things you can do to push yourself forward. And no… this doesn’t mean you need to have millions of dollars in the bank. Investing in yourself financially can happen NOW, and can begin for only a few dollars a day.
One of the most imprtant things you can do to begin investing in yourself financially is to establish savings accounts and an investment account. You can do both, even if your financial resources are limited.
If your local bank has decent interest yields, go TODAY and set up an account. Some institutions will allow you to open an account for as little as $25. As an alternative, there are many banking institutions available online with great rates. For example, as of the date of this post, Ally Bank is offering 2.20% annual percentage yields on their online savings accounts, no matter the balance you have in your account. Plus, you can set up your account to make automatic deposits from your checking account, which is GREAT for those of us who are busy or just aren’t disciplined enough to make deposits ourselves.
Here’s another thing to consider: Rather than establishing only one savings account that you put all of your extra funds into, consider creating multiple accounts, each with a specific purpose for the funds you invest. First and foremost, establish a savings account and dedicate that money as an emergency fund. No matter how carefully we plan for our lives, unexpected things happen, and that money will be there to pull you out of a bind when you need it. But you might consider establishing an account specifically for self-investment as well. Label that account “FOR MY GROWTH” and set up funds to auto deposit every week. Even if you are depositing $10 a month to start, you’ll begin building a little nest egg that you can use for learning and personal growth.
What can you use the “FOR MY GROWTH” funds for? Anything that helps you learn more and grow your strength. Maybe you’ll use the money to take a class and learn a new skill. Maybe you’ll run across a seminar or workshop that provides advanced knowledge that will help you move forward. Maybe you’ll find a coach or a mentor that can give you personal, one-on-one guidance. Or, you can begin saving to start a business or go back to school. No matter how you choose to use your funds, dedicate them to investing in your future potential. Learn and grow every day, but also save for your growth tomorrow.
Opening an investment account is another way to invest in yourself, and no… they’re not just for “rich people.” You can open a simple, diversified investment account all by yourself in many places online without plopping down a big chunk of money. Acorns.com, for example, will allow you to open your account for a small amount of money, then contribute to your fund DAILY by “rounding up” every transaction you make on your bank card. If you buy toilet paper for $9.25 (can believe how expensive toilet paper is??) the Acorns account will “round up” to the next dollar and deposit $ .75 into your investment account. This allows you to contribute continuously to your financial future without making a huge dent in your day to day expenses. Consider your investment account a way to “pay yourself first.”
Once you begin to feel more secure financially, reach out to a licensed financial planner. They can help you determine how to best allocate your funds into diversified investment accounts that are best for your unique situation.
What are the dividends?
Investing in yourself always pays dividends in some way. Whether you’re investing your time, your attention, your willingness or your money in developing your personal strength, you will see eventual returns.
You might gain a wealth of knowledge that will propel you forward, peace of mind and better health through personal attention, improved connections with others by being willing and open, all of which have the potential to bring you amplified earning power.
What’s the point behind all of this? Put your moolah where it matters. INVEST IN YOURSELF.
It will show up in your life, your spirit, AND your bank account.