38 ways to invest in yourself and build a better future

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In a Nutshell

There are many ways to invest in yourself, from shoring up your finances to setting aside time to make new career goals. Here are some ideas to consider.
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Investing in yourself is more than buying stock and bonds or starting your own business. When you make conscious decisions to invest in your financial well-being, health, career and interests, you set yourself up for success in the future.

Not sure where to start? Browse these 38 ways to start investing in yourself today.

Jump to the infographic for a quick breakdown of some of the investments you can make for yourself.

Invest in your finances

Your future depends on the investments you make today. If you start early, time can be your friend. Consider investing your money in more than just stocks and bonds and save for the future.

1. Start a retirement fund

There are many ways to save for retirement. The most important thing to remember is that the sooner you start saving, the more money you are likely to accumulate over time.

You can build your nest egg by making contributions to these retirement accounts:

  • 401(k): This is the most common employer-sponsored retirement plan, and it takes a percentage of your earnings and saves it in a retirement account on your behalf. Some employers will match a percentage of what you save. Estimate your potential retirement savings with our 401(k) calculator.
  • 403(b): This type of tax-deferred retirement plan may be available to employees at some nonprofits, public schools and certain clergy members.
  • IRA: If you’re eligible, an IRA lets you make tax-deferred contributions to a retirement account.
    Roth IRA: This type of account allows you to make after-tax contributions to your retirement account. Qualified distributions are tax-free. But keep in mind that these accounts have income limits.

Use our retirement calculator to estimate how much you should save to meet your retirement goals.

2. Set financial goals

Set financial goals for the future and measure your success. Your goals can be short-term, like saving for your next vacation, or long-term, like paying off student loans. Here are some ideas for financial goals:

  • Making a monthly budget for groceries
  • Establishing an emergency fund with three-to-six months of savings for basic expenses
  • Saving for a home down payment
  • Paying off your credit card statement balance every month

3. Save for a rainy day

Start saving for small expenses that aren’t a part of your regular living expenses with a rainy-day fund. This money can help you with unexpected expenses that pop up, like a necessary car repair or replacing a broken laptop.

Keep your money easily accessible in a savings or checking account, and use these saving tips to help build up your rainy-day fund.

  • Cut out unnecessary spending that doesn’t bring you joy
  • Cook more meals at home
  • Trim down your subscription services
  • Reduce your utility bills by conducting an energy audit

4. Grow your savings

When you put your money in a savings account, it may pay you some interest on the money you have keep in there.

Here are some different savings options to consider.

  • High-yield savings account: This is a savings account that may pay a higher amount of interest than an average savings account.
  • Money market account: A money market account allows you to make a limited amount of transactions each month and typically yields a higher savings rate than typical savings accounts. Note that they may have a minimum balance requirement to remain open.
  • Certificate of deposit: These are also known as CDs, and you can deposit your money to earn interest on your savings for a fixed amount of time. Interest rates vary, and there may be penalties for early withdrawals.

Invest in your health

You only have one body, so it’s important to invest in it and give yourself the best opportunity for a long and healthy life.

5. Nourish your body

Your body needs fuel to run properly, so make sure you give it the nutrients it needs. Eating healthy can help optimize brain function and improve your quality of life.

Here are some ideas to nourish your body.

  • Increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Drink plenty of water each day
  • Cut out processed foods and sugar as much as practical

6. Exercise regularly

The World Health Organization cautions against the negative effects a sedentary lifestyle can have on your body and mortality. Physical inactivity has been linked to  higher incidences of a variety of health problems such as diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Try these tips to get more active every day.

  • Go for a 30-minute walk or run
  • Take stretch breaks often if you sit for long periods of time
  • Try out a new exercise routine such as cardio or weight training

7. Get good sleep

Sleep deprivation is more than just being tired, according to the CDC. It can come with several negative health effects on your body and brain, such as an increased risk of heart disease or depression. It also can lead to vehicle crashes resulting in disability.

Try these good sleep habits to get your hours in.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Use a sound machine to help lull you to sleep
  • Create an evening routine that helps you wind down at night without technology

8. Practice self-care

Self-care requires you to pay attention to your wellbeing and to do things that safeguard it. Practicing self-care entails doing what you need to recover, recuperate or re-energize.

Here are some ideas for practicing self-care on a budget.

  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Make a habit of journaling
  • Try meditation
  • Ignore your phone

9. Feed your brain

As you age, it’s important to keep your brain active to maintain healthy cognitive functions, according to Harvard Medical School article. Take the time to feed your brain by engaging in new, complex and challenging activities like these.

  • Learn a new language
  • Express yourself in writing
  • Practice painting or art

Invest in your career

In addition to investing in your financial future and health, investing in your professional development can bring meaning to your life.

10. Pave the way with education

Investing in your education is one of the most best ways you can boost your career. A degree can help you be competitive in the job market and help you work toward the job of your dreams.

Here are a few options to explore for getting an education.

  • Community college
  • Trade schools or apprenticeships
  • Online universities
  • Four-year universities

11. Gain experience

To land your dream job, employers often look for a combination of education and experience. Invest in your career by seeking out opportunities to get the experience you need.

You can showcase your achievements on your resume and put them to use once you get the job.

  • Apply for an internship
  • Create your own portfolio online
  • Volunteer in your field of interest
  • Get a part-time job

12. Hone your skills

As the job market and companies evolve, it’s important to keep up with the relevant skills needed in your field. The skills gap can be a challenging problem for hiring managers, so be the answer to their problems by upskilling in these in-demand areas.

  • Digital skills
  • Soft skills
  • Analytic skills
  • Leadership skills

13. Expand your network

Networking can be a powerful way to invest in career opportunities. Take the time to grow your network by connecting with professionals who can help you get where you want to go.

Try one of these tactics for expanding your network.

  • Message a professional in your dream line of work for advice
  • Attend a networking event or virtual career fair
  • Ask a connection for an informational interview

14. Start a side gig

If you have a passion you may want to pursue as a career, consider starting a side gig. A side gig can give you a new experience, allow you to work out problems, build your personal brand and bring in additional income.

Here’s some inspiration:

  • Freelance design or writing
  • Re-sell curated consignment finds
  • Start a business building websites
  • Tutor students in a specialized subject

15. Aim for work-life balance

Part of investing in your career is making sure you don’t burn out early. Get into the habit of maintaining a work-life balance by doing the following.

  • Set strict working boundaries to preserve personal time
  • Don’t check emails past a set time in the evening
  • Eat your meals away from your desk
  • Schedule time off and use it to relax and destress

16. Obtain a certification

Another way to invest in your career is by obtaining professional certifications for new skills. Keep your career opportunities open by earning certifications in areas you don’t already have experience in or getting certified in tools or software that will help you do your job.

Check out these certification options.

17. Find a mentor

A mentor can help elevate your career by teaching and guiding you through your professional journey. Whether you want to be in business or education, finding an experienced mentor in your chosen industry will help you get where you want to go.

Find a mentor using some of these tips.

  • Email someone you’d like to know in your desired field
  • Reach out to industry professionals through social media
  • Look for mentors at a virtual conference or meetup

18. Learn to say no

Choose how you spend your time and energy wisely. Exercise your right to say no if you have too much on your plate or if added responsibilities won’t help you achieve your career goals.

Here are some polite ways to say no in a professional setting.

  • “Thank you for thinking of me, but, unfortunately, I don’t have the bandwidth this project requires.”
  • “I wish I could help, but I’m afraid this is out of my area of expertise.”
  • “I appreciate you asking, but I would like to keep developing my skills in these other areas.”

19. Take the reins on your earning potential

If you think your pay isn’t commensurate with your work, talk to your employer and ask for that well-deserved raise. Look at recent projects where you have gone above and beyond, record key professional wins, and present a salary range in a polite, respectful manner.

Invest in your relationships

When it comes to the future, many wish to live a life surrounded by the people they love and enjoy. Make time for the people in your life and work on cultivating your relationships, so they’re even more meaningful down the line.

20. Spend time with family

Family is important, so show them they matter by spending time together. Here are some ideas for how to fit in some quality time.

  • Cook a meal together
  • Plan a trip to the park
  • Have a family game night
  • Join them on an errand

21. Have fun with friends

Grow your friendships by engaging in shared activities and making a point to catch up on each other’s lives. Try some of these activities to keep your friendships strong.

  • Go on a hike
  • Play games over video chat
  • Start a book club
  • Send each other a handwritten note

22. Make room for romance

Many people envision themselves settling down with a partner in their future. Significant others are often a great source of happiness and social support in our lives.

Here are some date ideas to consider.

  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Plan a movie night with your favorite snacks
  • Grab a coffee and go for a stroll
  • Watch the sun set together with blankets and hot cocoa

Other ways to invest in yourself

Invest in your own personal development and fulfillment by nurturing your hobbies and passions. Here are some more ideas to invest in yourself.

23. Learn to play an instrument

24. Read a book

25. Play a new game

26. Volunteer for a cause you love

27. Affirm yourself through mantras

28. Discover your spirituality

29. Take a mental health day

30. Practice a hobby

31. Reward yourself for achieving goals

32. Plan a pamper day

33. Write down what you like about yourself

34. Listen to motivational podcasts

35. Make personal goals

36. Create art

37. Get out of your comfort zone

38. Adopt a pet

What’s next: Learn about your finances

Use this list to start making investments in yourself today. And if you’re hoping to make financial strides, you can monitor your credit and finances with the Credit Karma app.

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