I've got some good news- and some bad news.
First, the bad news: Your financial capital has probably taken a hit these past few years. As a matter of fact, this past decade or so has not been too rosy either.
Here's the good news: Your human capital has all of a sudden become relatively more valuable to you and your family. In other words, the value of you at work has gone up. Of all your investments, human capital is the one you have the most control over.
Here are a number of ideas to invest in YOU:
1. In uncertain times, there's nothing quite as valuable as a regular paycheque. Solidify your career, whether an employee or selfemployed, by being absolutely indispensable and consistently exceeding expectations.
2. Stick around. There will always be better opportunities, but you do not want to build a flaky reputation by jumping from one opportunity to another.
3. Do whatever it takes to improve your income potential by improving job skills, taking courses and getting certifications that improve your value. The marketplace generally rewards this.
4. Be a lifelong learner. Attend conferences and industry events. Make productive use of the Internet to grow your knowledge through reading online journals and blogs or engaging in relevant online discussion forums.
5. Join professional, trade and networking associations in order to build your contacts and grow your industry knowledge. Don't just collect business cards though. Try to help as many people along the way as you can. It's the right thing to do and it will often be rewarded through future opportunities.
6. Find a mentor. Get to know someone who takes an interest in your future and be committed to learning everything you can from this person. Remember though that mentors give selflessly, but often with an unwritten condition that you continue to pay that generosity forward by being a mentor to others.
7. Give before you expect to get. Take on additional responsibilities without any conditions. Only once you have clearly proven your value have you earned the right to ask for a raise.
8. Take credit without being seen as a "try-hard." If you add extra value into the workplace, your employers need to know about that.
9. Volunteer. If you're trying to break into a field where you have not been employed before, especially in the non-profit sector, volunteering your time is a great way to make contacts and build more skills
10. Do it yourself. Your value is also in what you are able to do on your own without paying someone else and that's tax-free.
If you work on building up your human capital and making sure you are compensated for your increased value, you will then be in a better position to improve your financial investments.
Richard Vetter, BA, CFP, CLU, ChFC, is a certified financial planner and owner of WealthSmart Financial Group in Richmond (www.wealthsmart.ca).