Here's How Spending 3% On You Will Advance Your Career


Never underestimate the value of investing in yourself. Many professionals seem to miss out on the importance of it. People are more likely to treat themselves to a new outfit or a nice dinner out, but when it comes to increasing their knowledge and business skills, somehow there isn't room in the budget.

Some of the most successful individuals in the business world believe in the power of investing in yourself. Brian Tracy, bestselling author of over 70 books, said, "Here is a rule that will guarantee your success, and possibly make you rich: Invest 3% of your income back into yourself."

Similarly, Warren Buffett, one of the richest and most respected businessmen in the world, said, "Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you." (See also: 6 Pearls of Career Wisdom From Brian Tracy)

Does It Actually Work?

The idea of investing in yourself is not just motivational, business fluff. It truly can be the tool that helps you to make more and advance in your career. If you are constantly growing your skills in your field, you are constantly becoming more valuable in your field, and becoming an important asset for your company. Your employer will want to pay their top employees more, and if they don't, another company surely will.

Asking for promotions or getting hired in a better paying position is easier to do with more experience and knowledge you gain. A common misconception is that your college degree is all you need to succeed. If you earn your degree and secure a good position, then you cannot just rely on experience alone to move you up the ranks. In fact, you might get passed up by younger professionals who have more up-to-date training.

On a personal note, my husband has been pursuing a degree over the past few years and has earned several IT certifications. Similarly, his salary has increased over $20,000 in those three years. I truly believe my husband's increased salary is directly related to investing his time and money to learn as much as he can. Not only has he become more knowledgeable, but he has also become more confident in his craft.

How Much Should You Invest?

There is no set rule of how much you should invest, but Brian Tracy's idea of 3% of your income is a good principle. Of course, you can always invest more. Some companies even offer reimbursement for tuition and certifications, making it easier to invest the 3%.

How much is 3% to the average professional? If you earn $55,000, you should aim to invest $1,650 back into yourself each year, or $137.50 each month. That may seem like a daunting number if you are on a tight budget, but if you are able to earn $58,000 the following year, you will have almost doubled your investment.

Knowing What to Invest In

You should invest in building the knowledge and skill set that will get you to your next promotion or pay raise. Don't make the mistake of investing in the next big, profitable thing. For example, when real estate was a hot market before the crash in 2007-2008, it seemed like everyone was a real estate agent on the side. When the real estate market crashed, many professionals were safe because they had their full-time jobs, that was completely unrelated, but they had spent all of their time learning to be real estate agents, rather than growing in their full-time field.

If you are not sure what certificates, training, or education you should invest in, think about the position in your company that you would like to have. The next step is to ask coworkers in that position what special training and certificates they have. If possible, ask your boss what is needed to move up to the next position in your company. If those two suggestions do not work, look at job listings for positions you would like to have. What are the qualifications needed and desired?

Ideas for Investing in Yourself

Here are just a few self-investment ideas, and how to grow your knowledge and experience:

  • College degree;
  • Certifications;
  • Seminars and workshops;
  • Books;
  • One-on-one consulting with top experts in your field;
  • Classes and courses in related business areas, such as social media marketing, communication, productivity, and accounting.

Investing in yourself doesn't just stop with learning new skills, though. Improving your physical and mental health will directly affect your workplace performance. Investing in areas that inspire your creativity, such as learning a new language or taking a graphic design course, could also put you ahead at work. (See also: 11 Ways a Second Language Can Boost Your Career)

If you want to grow in your career, then you have to grow as a person. Make yourself a valuable employee at your company by developing expert skills that set you apart from the rest of your coworkers.

How do you invest in yourself each year? Have you seen a difference in your income?

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