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Published on June 29th, 2020 | by Leif Kristjansen

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The best investment during Covid-19 is your brain

“Can you teach me to invest?” I get this question all the time.

To be fair, I have a blog on saving, investing, and early retirement, so the question is justified. But it’s tricky to answer because it depends on how much we’re working with.

Learning how to invest when you’re a millionaire is different than working with a couple thousand dollars. But I’ll give you a 1 second rundown of basics on the way to becoming a millionaire. Unless you are super wealthy or too educated, always invest in your brain.

Update your skills. Learn something new. Become more valuable.

Here’s why:

To be financially successful, the best first step is to become a higher earner. Earn more money and then invest that money and make it work for you.

The reason is simple. You have a job and improving it gives huge returns. So what exactly does investing in yourself mean? Here are a few examples:

Updated skills for your job

If there’s one thing that’s been true during the pandemic is that everyone is extremely overwhelmed. We’re all fighting to keep our heads above water.

So imagine what your boss will think when you tell them you just attended a virtual industry event or took the initiative to learn a new programming language. (Even if you’re interviewing for jobs, think about how easy it will be to answer “When have you demonstrated initiative?”)

Learning new technical skills not only cements your reputation as driven and motivated, it will make you invaluable enough to get a raise when the COVID dust settles.

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New skills to make you an asset

Ever attend a meeting that moves away from your scope of expertise. “Why am I even invited to this?” you moan in your head while either trying to keep up with the jargon or even completely spacing out.

Now what if you had enough knowledge to give insights to the conversation instead? That would blow everyone’s mind.

Every company needs someone well-versed in marketing, technical writing, even web design or SEO. Become that indispensable problem-solver who can always offer a “cross-curricular” point of view and you’ll quickly rise through the ranks at your company.

Something just for yourself

Hey. Maybe you just want to take your mind off work and learn something for yourself. I get it.

Years ago, I took a real estate investing course and ended up with over a million dollars in properties with monthly checks that surpassed my salary.

Not bad for a $800 education.

It could also make sense to invest in a course on leadership and communication (I took this and was suddenly a manager) so that you can become an integral part of your company. Managers are all soft skills. Do you want to be a manager? I hope you can make a hell of a powerpoint. You can imagine that would be a raise worth getting!

But but but…

I know you have excuses. I have them too, but then I remind myself that they’re crap. Let’s look at a few common ones.

I can just learn it myself.

I’m SO guilty of this. Whenever I want to learn something new, I always try to reverse-engineer it from blog posts and youtube videos. This just leads to information hangovers and duct-taped solutions. Plus, you aren’t sure what you don’t know and where your gaps are. Just go learn from an expert.

The small buy-in is worth the fees to close those gaps and become a real company resource and not some YouTube cowboy.

I don’t have time to take a course.

If you’re guilty of the “reverse-engineering” hack from above, then I can tell why you think you don’t have time. Like me, you’ve probably spent hours on forums and youtube spirals trying to absorb everything there is to learn.

Courses cost money because someone took the time to put it together cohesively and succinctly. They’re giving you their years of learning in just a few hours.

As far as I’m concerned – you don’t have time to not take a course.

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How am I supposed to pay for it?

Where there’s a will there’s a way. If this is something you really want, you will find the money. Otherwise you’ll just find an excuse.

If you’re currently employed, your workplace probably has a budget for professional development – it just may take a little negotiating.

Otherwise, you have to think of it as an investment and not as an expense. If you got a stimulus check or if you saved any money during the pandemic – put it where it will give you the highest ROI.

Let’s work out the numbers for this “investment”

This is the beauty of investing in learning. The returns are HUGE. Most of these educational investments wouldn’t be more than a thousand bucks, but how much more could you earn if you learned were promoted to management or gained a lucrative side hustle?

If you get a $5000 raise after taking a $1000 course – that’s 500% return. PER YEAR! Yes please!

But here’s the secret – you have to follow through.

This isn’t like listening to a podcast and thinking “well that was interesting.” No. Paying money means paying attention, having someone judge you for not finishing, and probably doing a test.

If I just spent a thousand dollars on something, heck yes I’m going to follow through and become a bloody expert. Heck yes I’m going to do whatever it takes to get a return on that investment. I’ve got skin in the game now. Not like some youtube video I watched while cooking.

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About the Author

I’m Leif Kristjansen, founder of https://FiveYearFIREescape.com where my wife and I blog about how we felt busy as hell and took a hyper-time-efficient path to retirement in our early 30s. We have kids and a house in a high cost of living city but we succeeded via saving, life hacks, and lots of rental houses.



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