Many of us are conditioned to save from an early age – be it for university, retirement, or an emergency stash. But according to Henry Ford, this is a backwards philosophy. To the founder of the Ford Motor Company, the only real security we can have is knowledge, experience and ability, not money:
“I think that much of the advice given to young men about saving money is wrong. I never saved a cent until I was forty years old. I invested in myself – in study, in mastering my tools, in preparation. Many a man who is putting a few dollars a week into the bank would do much better to put it into himself.”
Investing in a diverse set of skills, especially as a young adult, is essential to be not only an attractive candidate for employers but also to be adaptable in the constantly evolving marketplace we’re a part of. In some careers, one set of skills is simply not enough.
However, for various reasons, money is difficult to let go. It’s often rational to save it when alternatives are available – maybe you don’t pay for an Adobe design class because you can learn through Internet tutorials – but sometimes saving means settling. Bootstrapping can be a wallet-saver in some circumstances, but it doesn’t work all the time.
Some investments are necessary to progress, be it purchasing or renting a new wardrobe for a job interview or hiring a language tutor to help open up a vast array of other employment and living opportunities. Having necessary certification or “the real deal” allows for you to cover for holes in your self-learning plan.
Investing in the right projects will have a large payoff, whether it’s now or in ten years. And if you’re worried about the short-term financial loss, just look back to Ford: the company he invested everything he had into recorded 100% sales increases annually for its first five years.