The global workplace is uncertain. You don’t know if you’ll be with your current employer by the end of this week. Even the federal government isn’t safe from layoffs with sequestration. Self-investment is certain but the question everyone poses is how do you afford self-investment on a shoestring budget?
Regardless of what happens, start saving 5%-10% of your monthly income.
It provides you with a cushion to afford options. I’ve used this cushion to self-finance my PMP certification and community college courses advancing my career.
Look at your employer’s resources
Your company might offer training programs, tuition assistance for college courses and leadership development programs. These corporate courses let you cultivate and develop the necessary skills to get to the next level. I have been selected into two leadership development programs with two separate federal agencies. I have acquired new skills and obtained new sponsors who would advocate for me internally.
They have residency discounts with people in the county. Community colleges also specialize in workforce retraining so you won’t feel out of place with younger students like at four-year colleges. Community colleges have perennially catered to the needs of older workers retooling themselves for the current marketplace.
Don’t sleep on libraries. They offer the best career resources. Many libraries provide free computer courses and databases to upgrade your skill set. Furthermore, they also have career books and magazines that you can read to refine yourself.
Professional organizations offer continuing education through their chapters. Furthermore, they provide discounts on industry certifications. In addition, these organizations also have continuing education seminars and workshops to educate their members on current industry trends.
Many college alumni associations have online and offline educational discounts for their members. You can also use their networks to ask other members for career resources.
MOOCs (Coursera and MIT OpenCourseware)
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer free resources to upgrade your skills set on your own time. MIT OpenCourseware possesses a wealth of free courses. Coursera offers free courses and certificates for $49. Some of these courses might qualify for personal development units to renew your professional certification.
Online Courses (Ed2Go)
Ed2Go is an affordable online course website that many community colleges partner with to offer their students more options. Depending on the college, classes range from $99-$130 apiece. I have used Ed2Go to take and renew my project management certification.
Hopefully, any of these free or low-cost options will enable you to jumpstart your self-investment journey. Self-investment is the best investment.