How Do You Actually Invest in Yourself Without Getting Ripped Off?

“How am I supposed to invest in myself if I want to make more money?”

A friend asked me this.

It’s an interesting question because these days it seems like every course/book/program is marketed as an investment in yourself. I wanted to tell you what you need to know about investing in yourself so that you don’t waste money on scams and also so that you don’t miss out on opportunities.

How to invest in yourself

They tell you to bet on yourself and to invest in yourself. The thing is, nobody tells us how to do it. Most of the time a rant on investing in yourself is followed by a pitch for some online course or some program that you can’t afford.

We just nod our heads when we hear that we need to be investing in ourselves and then we move on. It’s difficult to figure out how to invest in yourself when you don’t even know where to start or when you’re on a limited budget. It’s easy for a celebrity with unlimited resources to endorse the idea of spending money. Regular people struggle with investing money into something that may not lead to anything for a long time.

I wrote about what Wikipedia won’t tell you about investing in yourself if you want a quick primer.

How do you know when to invest in yourself? How should you spend money on yourself?

The problem with investing in yourself is that you can suddenly justify every purchase as an investment. I’m so guilty of this.

Here are a few examples of how I’ve convinced myself that something was an investment:

  • New sunglasses because my eyes need protection.
  • New dress shoes because I have to look good when I go out.
  • A new bottle of cologne because I have to smell good when I go out.
  • New dress shirt to match everything.
  • Pick up the tab for the table because I’m investing in my network.
  • Going for dinner because it’s good for business.

Sound familiar? You could go on with the examples. Everything is technically an investment in yourself. This is why it’s important to figure out when you should invest in yourself and when you should hold back.

When do you actually invest in yourself?

I want to give all of the scenarios of where you should be investing in yourself. You likely fall into one of these.

Scenario #1: You’re not happy with your current situation.

Are you unhappy with your current situation? Do you want a better job? Do you want to level up? Do you want a better lifestyle?

There’s no sense in whining. You have do to something. You may have to take a course, go back to college, or put some money into that side business to beef up your income so that you can start saving more to eventually change up your lifestyle.

You’re also going to want to invest in yourself so that you’re not stuck at the same crappy job until you retire as the entire world passes you by.

Scenario #2: You want to move up in your field.

Do you feel stuck right now? Does it feel like you’ve peaked at your current gig?

You have to spend some money and put in some effort if you want to move ahead. You can’t be upset because your boss doesn’t automatically feel the need to give you a fancy promotion with a shiny new raise.

You have to prove that you deserve to be moved up the company. You have to earn your promotion and opportunity to level up.

Scenario #3: You want to make more money on the side.

Do you want to start a side hustle? Are you hoping to finally get into freelancing? Do you want to grow that side hustle?

If you want to get into freelancing or grow your side business, you’re going to have to spend some money. You won’t need to spend a fortune, but it may require an upgrade in technology or some tool.

Scenario #4: You’re fed up or want to speed up the process.

Just like the first point, we all eventually reach that point where we have to make a move. You have to spend some money to make more money in the future. You have to put a few bucks into your own life so that you’re not stuck at the same level forever. There’s nothing worse in life than being the person that never moved on.

When I was read to grow my freelancing career, I bought a freelancing course and used the tips to boost my business. When I want to get better at grappling faster, I paid for coaching so that I could catch up to the rest of the class.

Let’s talk about the different levels of investing in yourself.

How should you invest in yourself?

If you’re just getting started, you have to invest time.

That’s it. You have to do some research, read some books, get some money together, and figure out your next move. You have to spend your limited free time on trying to decide what will bring you to the next level or what you can do to change your situation.

Don’t go paying for high-level executive business coaching if you haven’t even made your first dollar yet. You don’t need coaching. You need to get off the couch.

Level 1: Starting out ($100 or less).

This is for everyone looking to make some changes. These small investments can go a long way. I have two suggestions for this stage when you’re starting out:

  1. Read books. This is an easy win. Do you admire anyone? Is there someone that’s where you want to be? Read a biography. Read a self-help book. Read whatever you can to get your mind fired up. A $10 book won’t hurt your pocket but it can certainly help you get the wheels spinning.
  2. Take success people out for coffee/drinks. Try to search your social media/network to see if there’s anyone that you can chat with about some advice. Offer to take a successful friend out for coffee to pick their brain. This will also force you to step outside of your comfort zone. A friend used this strategy to get in touch with someone who worked at a startup that he was interested in. He was eventually offered a job.

These are easy investments that you could do at any time. One of these investments could be all that you need to see drastic changes. I don’t want you to spend a fortune. Read about your topic and meet people in the field.

Please don’t worry about business cards, branding stuff, or any huge moves at this stage.

Goal at this stage with investing in yourself: figure out your next step during the first few months of investing in yourself.

Level 2: No longer a rookie status ($100-$1k).

I want you to start off small because you don’t need to be purchasing $997 courses when you’re looking to test the waters and figure out what you want to do.

At this stage, you can spend some more money on the following:

  • Certifications/upgrades/seminars. Can you upgrade your skills? Are there are certificates that you can take? When my friend couldn’t get in as a firefighter, he spent his weekends taking related courses in the field until the department couldn’t deny his resume. Be so good that they can’t ignore you. In many situations, your employer may even cover these fees if you’re already working.
  • New technology. Do you need a new camera for that YouTube show? What about a new phone? How about a new laptop for that blog? An upgrade in your technology can go a long way.
  • Buy a new outfit. When I was invited to WWE for a weekend, I used the money that I I expected to make to purchase new suits so that I stuck out and represented myself well. I then used one of the outfits when I speak at a conference for young professionals.

Bonus investments: you can now think about business cards & branding materials and you can pay for some coaching sessions if you know someone who can help you out.

Goal at this stage with investing in yourself: Start making money in your first year.

Level 3: So close status ($1,000+).

You know what you want out of life, you’re making moves (and real money), and now you want to get to the next level.

You have to go to events now and spend money on further education/training/outsourcing.

It’s time to get out there and meet others in your field. Fly yourself out to conferences and related events that will help you level up. Try to become friends with industry experts too. You have to build your social circle.

You should also consider paying for more content/help/training. This could involve hiring a personal trainer or even outsourcing certain tasks.

Goal at this stage with investing in yourself: leave your crappy job, make more money than, and be on the right path.

Level 4: Mastery status ($2,000 or more).

Very rarely will we have to worry about level four investments. It might take you a few years to get here and that’s okay. You may never get here. I’m currently not at this stage.

What do you do here?

You pay for high level coaching or you spend big bucks on getting yourself the best education.

  • Go back to school. This is the last resort as going back to college is the most time consuming and most expensive choice. Sometimes it’s the most realistic option though. Can you get a degree in a new field? Can you upgrade your pay with further education?
  • Pay for coaching and premium content. This is the only time that I would suggest spending money on coaching and the premium programs out there. If you’re stuck and need help getting to the next stage, you should hire someone (someone reputable with experience) who can help you get there.

I must stress that these should be your last options. I see too many go back to school at 26 without exploring any other options. Even worse, I see people pay for courses on courses and premium content when they’re clearly not ready for it. Please do your research.

Goal at this stage with investing in yourself: make as much money as possible.

Keep in mind that this only refers to investments in yourself. Investing in real estate and side hustles are different topics.

Is it always worth investing in yourself?

Not really.

There will be times where you have to focus on getting things done instead of trying to spend money. Then there will be times where you need to spend money to speed up the process.

There’s only so many books that you can read and so many courses that you can take. You have to apply what you’re consuming. I have friends who live for consuming. They’re always looking for the next mastermind or the next course to take. That becomes another distraction tool. I don’t want you to get distracted anymore that you already are.

It becomes easy to justify every purchase in life as investing in yourself.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you debate investing in yourself:

  • Will this put me ahead?
  • Will this help me out in the long term?
  • Can I realistically afford this right now?
  • Am I ready for this?
  • Am I at this level?

What about all of these online courses and email funnels?

There are many weirdos online selling the passive income dream on social media. Your first priority should be to bring in money. You can’t get caught up in this self-help addiction where you’re always consuming content. You have to bring money in and get results before you defer to $2,500 courses.

The goal is to level up. I don’t want you to get ripped off your first year in because you thought that you needed 500 business cards and an executive coach for your hobby.

Check out my detailed video on how to grow your net worth to six figures…

Good luck with investing in yourself. Please never let anyone guilt you into spending money. It’s your money. Try to use your money wisely today to have a better tomorrow.

“Business is more exciting than any game.” — Lord Beaverbrook

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