Upon doing this article I was inclined to write about investments, and how people ordinarily face them. Since my background has largely been in this area, I feel that there is much to write about and share regarding the topic.

There are a lot of investments out there, and when people talk of them, it usually involves one of the following: stocks, bonds, UITFs, mutual funds, businesses or real estate.

Why not? For these are the by-words and buzz words of finance people, bankers, brokers, entrepreneurs, agents, and yes, book authors. Sheets, flyers, spiels, seminars, billboards, print ads and commercials abound with them.

But there is one investment that is oft-forgotten, unconscionably ignored, and quite indulgently relegated as an afterthought – investment on the self

Well, is this even considered an investment? Yes.

Why? Basic economics tells us of the different types of basic resources: land, capital and labour, from the last being derived what is called “Human Capital,” of which training and education is integral, adding value to the other factors of production.

Simply put, and common sense tells us that without our skills, talent and knowledge, we cannot do anything productive or even form decisions central to them.

This fact is even more apparent with the knowledge-based economy that we are living in right now, where information is always readily accessible across various media: the radio, TV, print, and the Internet.

So how does one keep up with knowledge and thus, make oneself grow? How do we invest in ourselves? Here are five cost-effective ways:

1. Join Seminars & Trainings

If you are working for a company then chances are that training sessions are available—and it is usually for free. Internal Seminars offered can be on various topics such as: effective communication skills, supervisory skills and sales skills.

Outside the company, various institutions and companies also give free seminars on stock market trading, entrepreneurial skills or financial planning. The classified ads of newspapers have a section on trainings and seminars, most of them offered for free.

Moreover, expos and trade fairs are good places to sit down on seminars, which they offer for free. In one recent Expo I went, I had the chance to listen to Chinkee Tan talk on finances. Had it been in another venue, it might have been more expensive. But with the expo, all I paid was just the fair’s entry fee, with unlimited access to the seminars given.

2. Take Interest in Activities

Learning need not be formal. In my alma mater, we have a favourite saying that goes “Do not let the four corners of the classroom get in the way of your learning.”

Join clubs and hobby groups and meet people with same interests. Not a few successful entrepreneurs today are just hobbyists that turned their favourite pastimes into business ventures. As you get to know people, you learn from them other skills as well.

You’ll never know, you can find in them your future business partner.

3. Volunteer

One author puts it “If you want to see leadership skills, put your employees into a volunteer work.”

Volunteer work, either in the church or community, is an avenue where you can develop interpersonal, communication and leadership skills — without the pressure, rigidity and formality of the workplace.

As no strict rules on hierarchy or ascendancy are given and the organizations relatively flat, open and receptive, you are freer to let your personality flow and natural leadership capacity surface. Moreover, you can learn from the practices and skills of the organization you are in.

For instance in the past, I have been in various volunteer work in our community church, as well as school organizations that has greatly honed and helped me in my leadership and decision-making skills, which makes the foundation of what I have now.

4. Have Extra-Studies

Usually, it is a Post-Graduate one, but you can also go for technical courses that certify their graduates like on fixed income trading, treasury professional, stock market trader, Registered Financial Planner®, among others.

Some companies can actually subsidize or shoulder the courses of your interest, just check with your company policy. Otherwise, you can access on-line courses of reputable universities wherein you can watch videos and download lectures of your choice.

I recently bumped across On-Line learning courses from universities no less than Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Yale, with courses on economics, sciences and the arts, and have been learning from their lecture classes.

5. Read

Read dailies, magazines, books and internet sites that carry interests aligned with yours. The dailies ‘sharpen your saw’ well… daily by keeping you up to date with events and issues that can impact your work, career and life.

In my career, it is very useful to be updated in economics and personal finance, that’s why business newspapers as well as finance websites are a must. Being updated with what’s happening allows me to give relevant and useful information for the people I work with.

Aside from investing in other outlets, we must not forget also investing in ourselves because the knowledge and skills that we get along the way are the same ones we use investing in other ventures.

The more skills and knowledge we have, the better edge in dealing with our work and the challenges — like financial investing and personal finance — that confront us. Now, onto the other types of investments.

About the author
Rienzie Biolena, RFP® is one of the pioneering Registered Financial Planners in the Philippines. Apart from this profession, he is also a writer, speaker, and trainer on financial literacy. He is currently the CEO of Wealth Arki, Inc.