Why you need to keep investing in yourself

Steven reading textbook

There’s more to investing than stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  As much as I want to begin rolling out posts about how to make money work, I realized I forgot to talk about something that is much more important than all of that – investing in your future self.

Whether you’re self-employed, employed, or unemployed, there’s something you can always do to invest in your future self and improve your overall lifetime earnings.

Here’s what I mean:

When I first started looking for summer/part-time jobs in accounting and finance, knowledge of Microsoft Excel was often listed as a requirement for the job.  Aside from taking an introductory course in Microsoft Excel, I had really little work-related experience with using excel.  There were so many functions and formulas in excel that I didn’t know how to use.

I wish I could say school taught me everything I needed to know for my job(s) but we know that won’t always be the case.  There’s an implicit expectation in the accounting/finance industry that employees would be proficient in Microsoft Excel for entry level positions.  I felt at a disadvantage and knew that I wasn’t being as productive as I could be in the job because of it.

I started to look at different options available to me outside of work that could help me get better at it.  I thought about enrolling in college courses for $1,000 + which would eventually lead to a certificate.  This would be great and all, but I ended up against it because I knew the courses wouldn’t be tailored to my requirements at work and I may not necessarily see immediate benefits.  The thought of having to pay for more school while I was completing my undergrad (and in debt) seemed completely ridiculous to me.

I began exploring free options. I watched excel tutorials on Youtube (Thanks ExcelisFun).  Some of the Youtube videos came with excel worksheets to work off of and follow along which I found extremely helpful.  Some of these exercises were actually similar to what I needed to know for my job at work.  I also began subscribing to regular newsletters (https://trumpexcel.com/) that were sent to my e-mail about different excel functions that I could read on my way to work/school while waiting at the bus stop.

Within a few months of doing this, I began automating tasks in Microsoft Excel which freed up half of my work week.  I started to have more time at work to assist management with other aspects of the business and gained exposure to work that I would have never had a chance to do.  In the end I was awarded with a promotion and $5,000 raise.  Assuming I didn’t get any further raises and I stayed in the same company and role for the next 30 years, it would result in $150,000 in additional earnings over my lifetime.

By sharing this story, I hope it gets you started thinking about small but impactful things that you can do immediately to make yourself more marketable and stand out at work.  And don’t tell yourself there isn’t anything you can’t do. 

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