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7 ways to invest in yourself

There's a strategic investment vehicle that's often underutilized even though it can deliver far greater results: you. Read on to learn how to invest in yourself and watch your income potential grow.

When it comes to building wealth, financial experts often advise focusing on investing in index funds, ETFs, 401(k)s, IRAs and real estate. But there’s another strategic investment vehicle that’s often underutilized even though it can deliver far greater results: you.

“Your single greatest asset is your ability to earn more,” says Paula Pant, founder of the personal finance blog AffordAnything.com. “When you invest in yourself, you improve the odds of increasing your income and that could have outsized effects that are far bigger than what you could reasonably expect from investing in the stock market or real estate.”

[See: 10 Tips for Couples and Young Families to Build Wealth.]

Here are seven ways to invest in yourself:

— Take a class or workshop.

— Read, watch and listen.

— Attend networking events.

— Hire a business or career coach.

— Start a side hustle.

— Prioritize self-care and breaks to increase productivity.

— Boost your health and wellness.

Still unsure how to get started? Read on to learn how to invest in yourself and watch your income potential grow.

Take a Class or Workshop

Developing a new expertise can help enhance professional marketability. After all, strengthening your skills or learning something new could lead to a promotion and raise or better-paying job at another company. And if you’re a business owner, acquiring a new skill can give you the ability to expand your offerings and gain more clients. Start by looking for continuing education courses at a local community college or workshops offered through a local business. Or scope out online classes that teach a specific skill set that is relevant to your job or side business, Pant suggests.

If you’re interested in switching career paths and breaking into a completely different industry, Amanda Abella, a business coach to millennial entrepreneurs and author of “Make Money Your Honey,” suggests spending money on a mentorship program or course. Otherwise, you risk wasting time, money and energy trying to figure it out on your own, and you’re more likely to give up, she says.

Read, Watch and Listen

You can broaden your knowledge and refine your expertise on any given subject without draining your wallet. Grab a book, watch a video or online tutorial or listen to a podcast that focuses on the things that you want to learn, whether you’re interested in learning more about sales, marketing, project management or how to manage money better. “This is one of the cheapest ways to invest in yourself,” Pant says. “And, if you use the library, it’s free.”

If time is limited, listen to the audiobook or podcast when it’s most convenient for you, such as when you’re waiting to board a flight or when you’re driving to work.

[See: 10 Ways to Save More in 2019.]

Attend Networking Events

Many jobs are never posted or advertised publicly, so landing a better-paying opportunity can boil down to making critical connections. That’s why attending conferences and social events with other professionals in your industry is crucial; attending meetups and professional events gives you the chance to form valuable relationships and connections. While you’ll have to spend money on event tickets and travel to and from the networking event, you may be able to deduct some of these expenses at tax time.

When traveling isn’t an option, network with professionals online through Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook groups and industry-specific forums for free, Pant advises. Otherwise, “look for free business, entrepreneurship and investing meetups in your local community through Meetup.com,” she says.

Hire a Business or Career Coach

Whether you’re looking for someone to help you build an action plan for your business or you want to hone in on a skill like public speaking, working with a coach who specializes in the area of expertise you’re looking to advance will provide specific guidance to help you reach new levels in your career and business.

Pant especially advises professionals to work with a career coach who can help improve your resume, perform better at interviews or make better presentations. “Hire somebody to videotape you practicing and review your performance with you critically,” she says. This is a strategy that has paid off for her when she was looking to improve her public speaking skills.

Start a Side Hustle

Earning extra money in your spare time in addition to your day job is a great way to reach your professional and financial goals. You may even be able to eventually work for yourself or launch a new business. However, starting a side gig may come with some upfront costs. In addition to taking classes or signing up for a workshop to learn a new skill, you may need to build a website and pay for hosting services, rent an office space or buy equipment relevant to the work you will be doing. Still, a small side hustle can grow into a bigger opportunity, allowing you to develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to launch a larger-scale business that can have even more impact on your long-term financial health.

Prioritize Self-Care and Breaks to Increase Productivity

In case you needed a reason to devote time to yourself, reflect and step away from your desk, indulging in self-care might be the key to increasing your productivity and achieving your financial aspirations. Whether you opt for a spa day, a vacation, a new hobby or daily meditation practice, checking in with yourself and reflecting on your career or business goals and taking steps to address any underlying issues that may be hindering your confidence and progress is key, advises Cayla Craft, life coach and host of the “Mommy Millionaire” podcast. Allowing yourself to indulge in self-care helps you realize how deserving you are of all the things you want to achieve and gets you into the mindset to succeed, she says.

[Read: Can Practicing ‘Minimalism’ Improve Your Financial Health?]

Boost Your Health and Wellness

Aside from lowering your health care spending, choosing to eat healthy foods and working out regularly can have positive benefits for your career, too. In fact, a 2017 study led by the University of California found that individuals who improved their health through a well-balanced diet and exercise increased productivity by 10 percent.

In short: Those who are better able to focus and feel more motivated on the job will have a better chance at landing a promotion, raise or bonus. To stay motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle, subscribe to a meal-kit delivery service, sign up for a gym membership or enlist a personal trainer to hold you accountable.

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7 Ways to Invest in Yourself originally appeared on usnews.com