When people ask me what’s the best long term investment, I always give them the same answer: Education, of course!!! And I have a very good reason for that.
20 years ago, I have finished elementary school with the highest grades possible. I was not that good in high school. Actually, I was not even close, and that was one of the reasons why I didn’t go to college. Only after I started working, I have finally realized how important is education.
Another reason I didn’t attend college is that I simply didn’t have money to do it. Back in 1991, the war started in my country, and both of my parents lost their job. My family didn’t have any income for years, and we really struggled to survive. Although my childhood was very difficult, it gave me the motivation to fight and I realized that without some kind of education, I will achieve nothing in my life.
Back in 2005/2006, I was working at the car wash and my monthly salary was less than $500. 15 years later, I am working as an IT project manager for six times higher salary. You wanna know how? I just figured out that education is the best long term investment I can make. And I am not talking about a college education. College can be very expensive, but in the era of the internet, knowledge is completely free. Of course, there is a whole lot of rubbish on the internet, but there are also billions of gigabytes of useful information, and all you need to invest is time.
We usually spend our lives thinking about how we could earn more money. What we don’t understand is that, when we have more knowledge and more experience, it becomes natural that our income increases. If this doesn’t happen to you, it usually means that you are working for the wrong company or you are in a completely wrong business.
Why Learning Is Important?
The answer is simple: Because successful people do it! Some of the smartest and most successful people spend at least one hour per day learning new things:
- Warren Buffett spends more than five hours per day reading
- Bill Gates reads more than 50 books per year
- Mark Zuckerberg reads two books per month
- Elon Musk’s brother claims that Elon was reading two books every day when he was a kid
The benefits of acquiring knowledge are endless. By learning, you will enhance your ability to think diversely, which means that you will solve problems more easily. It also provides an endless amount of new ideas that you can use to start your own business. And the most important thing is that, if you are learning about something that you really love, it will simply make you a happy person.
You simply have to understand that education is the best long term investment you can make and it pays the highest interest of all the investments you can think of.
Reasons Why You Should Start Learning…Every Day
- It improves the quality of life: If you learn about personal finance, you will be able to save and invest more money. If you learn about time management, you will be able to organize your life and spend more time with your family or do things that you like. If you learn about programming in Python, you will be able to get a high-paid job as a software developer, and you will not have to worry about paying off your mortgage. If you learn about math you will develop better problem-solving skills.
- Learning can reduce stress and make you happier: Learning about something you truly love can be an amazing stress reliever. It’s a way for you to run from your daily worries.
- It improves confidence: When you achieve your learning goals, especially the ones which are more ambitious, you will feel more confident and you will realize that you can solve all kinds of tasks.
- It can improve your mental health: The same way that physical activity builds muscles, by learning, the nerve cells develop greater connectivity. This is called neuroplasticity. Until a few decades ago, we thought that our brains are unchangeable, but actually, our brain is constantly changing.
- Education can help you socialize: If you don’t spend a lot of time with people, you can attend various workshops and seminars and meet people with similar interests.
- It can help you identify new opportunities: You are probably focused on some kind of secure career path and afraid of starting your own business. I have the same problem, but I am 100% sure that, if I learn a lot, I will be able to quit my 9-5 job in the next few years. Learning will help me come up with new ideas and new ideas will create great opportunities.
Different Types Of Education
People often talk about the following three types of education: Formal education or formal learning, informal education, and non-formal education.
Formal education takes place in the school (public or private) and it begins in elementary school, continues with high-school and college. Formal education gives people an opportunity to learn basic, academic skills.
Informal education is when people learn outside of the classroom. One is example is when parents teach a child to ride a bike. Another example is when your friends teach you how to play poker.
Non-formal learning (my favorite) is somewhere between formal and informal education. It’s a structured form of learning, but there is no approved curriculum and some official certification. Here are some examples of non-formal education:
- Boy/Girl scouts
- Online education courses
- Fitness or yoga courses
While this categorization is fine, I like to split the education into these two categories:
- Personal education: personal finance, meditation, yoga, time management…
- Professional education: Microsoft Excel, Python programming, Photoshop, video game development, data science…
How To Decide What to Learn?
This depends on what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to improve your personal life or your professional life? Once you have the answer, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I doing wrong?
- Does my boss/wife/boyfriend/… need me to learn/change/improve something?
- How can this improve our business/personal relationship?
- Where are my weaknesses?
- Will I enjoy learning this new skill?
If you still don’t have the answer, try with these questions:
- Who is my role-model and what does he/she do in his/her life?
- What did I love doing when I was a kid/teenager?
- What careers are most in-demand at the moment?
- What kind of problems need to be solved in the next 5-10 years?
How To Learn?
1. FIND STUDY RESOURCES
After you decide what you would like to learn, you have to find the right sources of knowledge. If you know someone who is an expert in what you would like to learn, you can ask this person to be your mentor. Personally, I prefer books and online courses, because they allow me to create my own study schedule.
If you prefer learning from books, try to create a list of the most popular books related to your topic. Try to find reviews of these books because you don’t want to waste your time on the bad ones. The same applies to online courses.
2. JOIN ONLINE COMMUNITIES
You can also join different communities (e.g. forums) and ask other members for their feedback. Some of them will even describe their own learning curve and give you advice on what learning resources to avoid.
3. IDENTIFY LEARNING STYLE
The next step is to recognize your learning style. When I’m trying to learn a new skill, I have to be in some quiet place. On the other hand, my wife was preparing for college exams in a local pub. This is completely individual, and you could spend some time understanding what’s the best way for you to learn.
If you will need some relaxing music while you learn, I suggest that you check my favorite relaxation videos on YouTube, but make sure that you don’t fall asleep instead of learning.
4. HOW TO MAKE LEARNING A HABIT?
If you want to learn something properly you have to learn every day. My learning is continuous. If you don’t have the habit to learn or if you don’t have the time, you should start with small steps. For example, you can try reading 20 pages per day. Most people can do it in 30 minutes or less. Maybe it doesn’t seem enough but reading 20 pages per day means that you will read a total of 600 pages per month. That’s an average of 2 books per month or 24 books per year. That’s a lot of information!
Best Free Learning Resources
At the end of this post, I would like to share my favorite learning resources. Let’s start with personal education resources:
1. PERSONAL FINANCE AND INVESTING BLOGS
- MakingSenseOfCents – A personal finance and lifestyle blog by Michelle Schroeder-
Gardner. It offers a huge amount of useful tips & tricks about saving and making money. If you would like to start your own money-making blog, Michelle offers a completely free email course on how to start a blog and how to make money with it.
- FinancialSamurai – Sam Dogen has been working in finance for more than 10 years and he decided to start Financial Samurai back in 2009. His blog will give you a huge amount of personal finance tips and very detailed articles about real estate, investing, retirement, and financial freedom.
- AWealthOfCommonSense – Ben Carlson started his investing blog to share information about investing, wealth management, financial markets, and the psychology of investing. Ben is publishing his blog posts on a daily basis, so make sure that you visit his blog at least once per week.
- MillennialMoney – Grant Sabatier shares valuable information on how to save and make more money, and how to invest it in order to retire early. Grant was unemployed and had only $2 on his bank account, and in only 5 years, he managed to create a million-dollar business. I’m sure that you can learn a lot from him.
- OldSchoolValue – Mike started his blog back in 2008 and he thinks that value investing is the best possible way to make money in the markets. He doesn’t write very often, but you must visit his blog because it offers high-quality tutorials, tools, and resources for value investors.
Here are some not so famous (but amazing) blogs related to personal finance and stock investing:
- TheDividendPig – Blake started his blog when he was 35, and his goal is to retire by the age of 45. The goal of his dividend investing blog is to share knowledge about dividend investing and to give you insight into his dividend growth portfolio. He currently owns stocks like Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, etc.
- FrugalAsianFinance – This is a very interesting blog that covers various topics: blogging tips, saving money, weight loss, retirement, real estate investing, etc. I visit this blog from time to time, to read Ms. FAF’s blog traffic and food expense reports.
- TheRookieInvestor – The owner’s goal is to retire early through investing. The blog is not old, and it doesn’t offer a lot of content, but I think it will be very interesting to follow The Rookie Investor and see if he will achieve his goal.
- TheSmallInvestor – The blog was started by Joseph Sheeley: an individual investor with 30+ years of investing experience. His goal is to teach others how to save and invest money and he does it pretty well.
And here are additional free resources to learn about investing:
- SafalNiveshak – Safal started his blog in 2011. It offers a huge amount o very useful articles about value investing, stock analysis, and company research.
- ArborInvestmentPlanner – This website is one of the best ones if you want to learn the basics of investing.
- MarketLifeTrading – If you would like to learn more about the technical analysis of markets, this is the only online course you will ever need…and it’s 100% free. Before you sign up, make sure you read my MarketLife Trading Review.
- Free Dividend Investing Ebook by LearnInvestEarn.com – Few weeks ago, I have decided to write my own short book about dividend investing. I hope it will give you an idea of how to select the best dividend stocks.
2. SELF IMPROVEMENT BLOGS AND RESOURCES
- FarnhamStreet – Started by Shane Parrish, this blog offers a huge amount of wisdom from books and interviews with some very smart people. Make sure you sign up for their newsletter.
- Mindvalley – This blog offers a variety of articles on how to take care of your body, perform better at work and build better relationships with people.
- ZenHabits – Blog by Leo Babauta which teaches you how to find simplicity and avoid chaos in your daily life, and how to focus on what’s important.
- YogaWithAdriene and Yoga Dose – These are my top yoga YouTube channels. They offer yoga videos for all ability levels, so don’t worry if you are a beginner. And if you think that you don’t have time for yoga practice, they even offer some 5-10min practice videos.
Best Professional Education Resources
When I want to learn a specific skill, there are only three sources of information that I use. One of them is completely free, while the others require some money. If you understand that education is the best long term investment you will ever make, investing a few hundred dollars shouldn’t be a problem. But let’s start with the first resource which is completely free:
YouTube is a completely free source of knowledge and it gives you access to millions of educational videos (e.g. tutorials). Here is how I use it:
- First, I decide what to learn. Let’s say I want to learn how to use Microsoft Excel. I use YouTube search to find “Microsoft Excel For Beginners” or “Microsoft Excel Tutorial”:
- After I get the search results, I search for playlists because they contain shorter videos. Watching multiple short videos, instead of one big, means that I can easily split up the work into short sessions that make sense:
Although Amazon is a paid learning resource, I really love it because I simply love books. Books are the best information source you can find, and they are quite cheap these days (especially books for Kindle). But you have to be careful before you choose a book. You can find product reviews on Amazon itself, but I also recommend you to check reviews on Goodreads or use Google to search for more feedback from other readers. This way you will avoid wasting your time on low-quality books.
Udemy is a platform that connects instructors and learners, and it’s my favorite source of video courses. It offers a huge range of online courses from fitness to video game development. The cost of Udemy courses is around $200 but they usually offer a 90 to 95 percent discount on a huge range of courses. The same as with Amazon, make sure you read the reviews before purchasing any of the online courses on Udemy.
Best Long Term Investment – Conclusion
I hope this post will help you understand that education is the best long term investment you can make. So, before you decide to invest money (and time) into stocks, real estate, or your own business, make sure you learn, learn and learn…a lot! Knowledge is the only thing that can help you succeed!!!