You Are A Great Investment, Don't Be Stingy!

You've heard it before, one of the best investments you can make is to invest in yourself. When it comes to making yourself all you can be, you shouldn't be stingy with your money. This can be simply relaxation, exercise, papering, reward and the most important investment: EDUCATION.

Free Money Finance has a great quote from Money Magazine that puts some real dollar values to education:

The money you spend on a college degree still yields a sizable return on your investment. Over a working lifetime, the typical college graduate earns about 75% more than a high school grad does. On average, that difference totals $1 million more -- easily enough to re-pay those student loans and then some. The payoff from graduate school is even bigger: People with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much over their lifetimes as those without a college degree and increase their average total earnings by as much as $2 million.

As much as we hate paying off those student loans, they really had a huge impact on our earning potential.

Now, traditional college degrees aren't the only type of education that has a substantial impact on our earning power. Whatever job or profession you are currently in, you should look around on the web and see if there is a professional certification for your profession. This is a great way to add dollars to your pocket at your next raise request or job hunt. Just about any professional job, has some kind of association that manages and gives certifications that say you are someone that is aware of the complete body of knowledge for that profession. This certification means substantial dollars from employers!

Take a look at a very interesting article on called CertMag's 2006 Salary Survey, you find many interesting bits of info. In particular the following list of top certifications by salary:


Another interesting view of their data is average salary by professional specialization:


Certifications are a great way to let your current employers and your future employers know that you are serious about your profession and deserve a serious salary bump!

Certification: The Benefits and Beyond
Beyond gaining technical skills and advancing one’s career, the reasons individuals have for getting certified can vary, in some cases coming down to their sense of stature or the respect they feel they command in their chosen field. A consistent majority of IT pros polled in the 2006 CertMag Salary Survey agreed certification makes them more confident in the work they do, gets them more respect from management and colleagues, and leads to a greater demand for their skills.

There are more benefits to getting your professional certifications:

“There are a lot of aspects that the certifications cover that I didn’t directly deal with in my job, but I think learning those helped me to be able to pull from a lot of different areas and experiences and contribute to that job better,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily a requirement for our job,” Helferich said. “It was new equipment to us, and it struck a fancy with me. I wanted to make sure I knew the equipment and went after the certification to have bragging rights.”

“It comes back to risk and the fact that a candidate who has a CCIE has proven him or herself from a technical perspective already,” he said.

I'll say it again: Don't Be Stingy! Spend the money to join your professional organization, get study materials for the test, the fees necessary for the test. All of these can sometimes be substantial, but well worth it when you consider the many tens of thousands of added salary you will earn from them over the coming years.

You'll find much about this topic in the survey results article linked above. Here's some info on average cost of certification of survey respondents:

The overall costs of certification, including study material, the exam price and more, also proved to be less expensive. According to the survey, about 44 percent of respondents reported spending less than $500 overall. The average dollars spent dropped from $2,580 last year to $1,781 in 2006, a drop of more than 30 percent.

Instructor led exam preparation was in high demand:

Instructor-led training was ranked extremely or very valuable by 45.4 percent of respondents, and product documentation was ranked extremely or very valuable by 40.3 percent.

And, don't hesitate to ask your employer if they will pay the exam, preparation, training costs for the certification. You may be pleasantly surprised!

In most cases, either the respondent or the respondent’s employer paid 100 percent of the cost of certification — there was little sharing of cost or reliance on grants or scholarships.

Teaspoon's 2008 Financial Goals

This is Teaspoon's resolution for 2008 ;-) ... I encourage you to create your own. Stop by Cash Money Life and check out how you can submit your resolution. You could win an iPod (you don't need a blog you can just email Cash Money with your resolution by Dec 5th) ... so give it a try!

For myself, this is a great way to set some 2008 goals:

  1. Post at least one post a week!
    I've been lacking here, as of late, while I do some studying for a professional certification. I really miss posting and love to ponder think about financial matters. So, I should at least give myself the opportunity at that fun once a week :-).
  2. Start to generate real estate investment income
    One way or another I'd like to get some Real Estate investment income in 2008 started. I plan to either rent out current property and get a new place or as soon as I sell current property and move into a new place, get an investment property online in 2008.
  3. Have 0 revolving debt in 2008
    It's been a long time coming for Teaspoon, but I should finally hit 0 revolving debt in 2008. That means lots more cashflow and freedom ... hurray! Be sane with that cashflow and start investing it. Plan will now be building a non-retirement portfolio and that should be fun.
  4. Maximize ESPP Free Money!
    Teaspoon's been focusing on maxing out 401k contributions and paying off debt. So, with the debt gone, it's going to be so nice to start to get all that ESPP Free Money! Remember this post? >>> Your Personal Stock Market Army - The Stop Loss! It had a great concept on maximizing your free money that's available to you from ESPPs:

I love free money with ESPP's. If you have an ESPP available at your employer, this is like free money and the stop loss can maximize your profits and limit your loss of profit. What I do, is every time my employer buys my ESPP stocks, I immediately (the day it becomes avail in my broker account), go in and set up a trailing stop loss of 3%. I encourage you to adjust your %percentage based on your stocks volatility. 3% for my employers stock works perfectly. If the stock keeps rising, then I keep locking in more and more profit. As soon as it turns around, it's sold for me automatically.

Funny Story - Plutonium or Spare Change?

Recently I bumped my fun-money savings ratio, just out of sheer annoyance and maybe some back-strain. I have this BIG JAR (actually a 5 gallon jar) that I have saved coins in for a couple years. I hate spending coins, so I pop them in there and see how much it will add up to. When I finally filled it almost to the brim, I was going to vegas :-).

Well, recently it was nearly full and I decided I needed to cash it in. With that puppy nearly filled I almost broke my back with 2 trips to the bank hauling change in my backpack to cash it in. I mean, the backpack was busting at the seams. I swear I must have looked like someone carrying plutonium or something!

It was a hefty $1000+, that easily paid for some fun in Vegas! For those of you curious how much change you've amassed, Coinstar has a handy little trivia estimator on their site (example: 1 gallon of change is estimated to be worth $228.34) Cool :-).

So, after that I decided not to focus on the change and instead focus on $1 bills. So much easier to carry $50 to the ATM adn deposit. Since then my savings rate for fun-money has tripled. Which tells me I'm having too much fun, or I need to tighten up the screws on my automatic withdrawal savings to my 401k, ESPP, or Mutual Funds :-(.