With a baby on the way and the looming prospect of supporting our little family on a single income, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time recently reading personal finance books. Mostly, this has been in the hopes of finding one where the pages are stuffed with $100 bills.
Invariably, the core principle of these books is that there are things you can be doing right now that will massively benefit you financially in the future.
Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of compounding interest. The sooner you start investing, the sooner you start earning interest on the money you invest. Then, as time goes on, you earn interest on the interest, and then interest on the interest of the interest. 30 years later, you’ve got a rather healthy investment account, the majority of which isn’t the money you invested, but the interest.
After reading one of these books, you will immediately be guilt-stricken that you didn’t start investing a portion of your pocket money into Exchange Traded Funds back when you were 7.
You can read more about great habits for personal finance here, but the important takeaway for the purpose of this post is there are investments you can make while you’re young that result in a significant financial benefit in the future.
Which got me thinking, what are some other areas of life, outside of finances, where an investment while you’re young (whether in money, time or energy) can result in a benefit that dwarfs the initial investment?
THE BENEFIT DWARFS THE INVESTMENT
Education would be the obvious one, right? On average, someone with a university degree earns about $32,000 more per year than someone who only finished high school. So, assuming you’re in your early 20s, even if it takes 3 years and costs $50,000 to get your degree, you’re potentially going to get $1,280,000 of value out of it over the course of your life (aka massive benefit).
But what are some other, less obvious, areas of life where this principle can be applied. Want to know what the biggest one I’ve identified so far is? Learning to type.
I know, not exactly the #hustlefuel you #successaddicts and #bossbabes were hoping for.
But here’s the thing, I’m a blogger and also what would be defined as a ‘knowledge worker’ (meaning I sit at a desk all day and create value using my ‘knowledge’ – as opposed to growing a field of corn or building things that would satisfy basic health-and-safety requirements).
On a normal day, I wake up and write for about an hour. Then, a short time later, I drive to an office where I spend a significant portion of the day tapping out emails, writing reports and creating content.
Until very recently, I would do all of this using two fingers, slowly pecking away at my computer keyboard.
However, over the last few weeks, I have been dedicating at least 10 minutes a day to learning how to type properly. It hasn’t been easy. Retraining muscle memory that has formed over the course of 15 years is ont a fnu tmie.
It’s requiring a decent time investment right now, but assuming we don’t advance to the point where I’m just verbally dictating everything to Alexa, I’m going to be typing for the next 30+ years of my life.
Using my patented ‘two finger’ method, I can type no faster than 50 words per minute. A good touch typist can fire out upwards of 140 words per minute. So, if I’m able to even just double my speed over the next few months, it will be an enormous efficiency booster.
Now, if you don’t stare into a computer screen for 9+ hours per day, improving your typing ability might not pay massive dividends. But what are some things that could?
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THE QUESTION WE SHOULD CONSTANTLY BE ASKING
What are the areas where I can make an investment now (whether in money, time or energy) that will massively benefit my future self?
I asked this question on social media (@samuelbrebner) and got some phenomenal answers.
One person emphasised overcoming bad habits. If you’re a smoker and you decide to quit, you’re probably going to go through hell for at least a few weeks. But if the result is 30+ years of not-smoking, that is going to be an enormous win for your future self.
Investing in good friendships was a common answer. Good friends bring out the best in you, while friends that tear you down can become your ruin. Young parents emphasised that when kids come along and life gets busier, the friendships you’ve built already become a solid source of support.
Another big recommendation was continuing to learn, even after you’ve finished study and started a career. One person shared that just by making the choice to listen to audio books rather than to the radio on his drive to and from work, he had gained insights worth $1000s for his business.
These are just a few examples to get your brain juices flowing, but what would your answers to this question be? What are the areas where you can make an investment now (whether in money, time or energy) that will massively benefit your future self?
While it’s never too late to start making positive changes, we have an incredible opportunity while we’re young to set ourselves up for future success. Don’t waste it.
So, what’s your answer? What are the areas where you can make an investment now (whether in money, time or energy) that will massively benefit your future self? Please let me know below! I’d love to build an awesome list of recommendations in the comment section.