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5 Ways to Invest in Yourself in Your 20s

Investing in yourself, professionally and personally, is the best gift money can buy.

Remember the money your parents spent on you as a child; those swimming classes, those flute lessons, those story books and puzzles? All of that was an investment in your future life.

But once we become adults and financially independent, we often forget about investing in ourselves anymore.

The best way to understand your spending is to divide it into short-term and long-term expenditure. Let’s first focus on the short-term: what do you need to spend money on? Rent and bills, food, student loan re-payments, and entertainment expenses are, for most, a given. This spending can be further categorised into two: expenses that you need for survival, and expenses that make you feel good. But none of these are investments. While they help us sustain and improve the quality of our current life, they are doing nothing to improve our future life.

Then comes the spending we do for the long-term, such as buying a house, saving in a pension, investing in shares or an ISA. These are investments that should give us a secure future or help us on a rainy day. But are these enough? Will they lead to a better version of you? I’d say no.

As modern, working, cosmopolitan creatures, we need to constantly improve and better ourselves. This is imperative not only for our professional success, but also for a better personal life. Investing in yourself need not necessarily mean investing money; it could also mean using your time more productively (after all, as they say, time is money!). Here are five great ways to channel your energy and earnings in order to invest in yourself as a twenty-something:

Invest in your body

You must have heard body builders and film stars say that their body is their temple. Narcissistic as it may sound, it really is! This is where you live. You need to treat it with respect, avoid activities that harm it, and actively try to maintain your strength and stamina. You can easily achieve this by taking up exercise on a regular basis. It may seem like an expenditure (time or money) that you can cut but, believe me, it is not.

Exercise need not always mean an expensive gym membership, either; take a walk in the park, a hike on the hills, or cycle through the countryside. As you grow older you will see the benefits in your stamina and your general state of health. It is much better to make exercise a habit when you are younger, as you naturally have more energy and enthusiasm. Exercise also indirectly improves your professional performance as it helps to relieve stress and gives you a general sense of positivity. A literal win win!

Invest in relationships

Relationships make our lives fuller and happier. Although we continue to meet new people as life progresses, our 20s are the best time to forge, develop, and nurture relationships. As we grow older, we tend to become more rigid in our thoughts and beliefs. As a twenty-something, you are not only mature enough to spot a kindred spirit, but also not too rigid to adjust to personalities different to your own. Be it personal friendships, work relationships, or finding a partner, invest your time in people who interest you and help you be a better version of yourself.

Invest in knowledge

Go to those exhibitions or concerts. Join that evening class to improve or supplement your skills. Read as many books as possible. Attend conferences in your sector. Knowledge-building really helps keep your mind active, makes you more confident, and allows you to have more meaningful conversations. Bill Gates’ reading list, for example, has a good dose of science and maths at its core. Twyla Tharp, the author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, says, “I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” Engaging in discussions and conversations with people you meet, at work and outside of your day job, also helps spark new ideas.

Invest in your mind

The more you challenge yourself, the further you will go. Don’t allow your mind to fall into a kind of stupor. Your twenties are a great time to challenge yourself, when you have a job and are living independently, but don’t yet have to worry about big expenditures such as children or a mortgage. Read books outside your comfort zone, learn a new skill, take up an activity that has always scared you. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone – who knows, you may discover a whole new dimension to your personality!

Invest in your hobbies

Are you really passionate about something outside your work? It is a great idea to spend your spare time pursuing it. I know an investment banker who transitioned into a high profile yoga teacher, an airline manager who founded her own fashion brand, a social development worker who started her own catering business, and a private equity specialist who became a celebrity stylist! You must remember that you may not be tomorrow who you are today. You may need different things in your life and it is always an excellent idea to develop something you love doing. Even if you do not make a career out of it, there are few things more enjoyable than a hobby you love.

Remember that it is very important to be conscious of your time and money, and to use it wisely. Making small changes to your lifestyle to accommodate investments in yourself will help you become the person you aspire to be – and who inspires everyone else!

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