Today, I’ll talk about good investments. In fact, I’ll tell you about the two best investments you’ll ever make.
If you expect me to outline a new “get rich quick” financial investment, you will be disappointed. Actually, the investments I will talk about do not include stocks, bonds, funds or any other asset classes.
I am only talking about investing in yourself.
I sincerely believe that the most important investments you will ever make is in:
#1 best investment: Your health
Before investing in anything else, you should invest in yourself – and the best way to do that is to invest in your health.
What do I mean by investing in your health? I can boil it down to two things that achieve the same purpose:
- Eat healthy
- Exercise regularly
Now you might think: “Wait a minute! I thought this blog was about early retirement and financial independence! What is this nonsense?”.
You are right. But I promise you that if you do not invest in your health and exercise, your early retirement will be a lot shorter than you think with much fewer options to do what you want.
Did you know that one of the main things people regret once they become old is that they did not take better care of themselves when they were young? If you ever had a time to listen to the old and wise, now is the time. I love this Reddit post, where people above 50-60 gives advice to younger people – lots of them are related to eating healthy and exercising regularly. My favorite quote is:
Eat like you’re a diabetic heart patient with a stroke – so you never become one
Why you should invest in your health
There are plenty of good reasons as to why you should invest in your health. More clever people than me has already written long books about it, but here are my two cents:
- You will live longer
- You will be able to do more for longer
- You will perform better in all aspects on life (you will have more energy to be a great parent, partner, friend, colleague etc.)
Mastering your health: How to eat healthy
Again, I am by no means an expert nor do I provide the most comprehensive list on the planet, but these are guidelines that I follow.
Eating healthy can be achieved by following a few basic principles:
- Avoid processed foods: Seriously, I mean this. If something is in a package and the label of the package shows you that it contains anything else than the intended raw product, don’t buy it. You can’t control what is in it and your body does not want it. Buy your vegetables fresh and raw. Buy your meat (if you have to) fresh. Don’t touch anything that is packaged and filled with additives (excessive amounts of e.g. sugar and salt), colors etc. Examples of things you should avoid include breakfast cereals, canned vegetables, savory snacks, microwave meals and soft drinks. These are your direct way to a life with diabetes
- Eat fresh vegetables: Learn to enjoy raw, vitamin rich vegetables (cabbage, carrots etc.) and eat vegetables for all of your meals
- Buy organic if possible: This is a topic of high controversy, so do with it what you want. Clean and natural food translates into a clean and natural body. I buy organic (if prices can still be justified) to avoid pesticides, antibiotics etc. Whether it is better for the environment, animals and so on, I’m not going to be the judge over
- Don’t do diets and don’t be extreme: Diets and extreme eating (e.g. not touching carbohydrates) will most likely only lead to short-term effects and can be dangerous – changing your mindset and habits for good works and takes more work than a diet
- Eat when you are hungry: You should always wait with eating until you are hungry and stop the moment you feel satisfied. If you have a tendency to overeat before you register that you are full, try drinking a large glass of water before each meal and you’ll feel full earlier.
It is relatively simple to do the tasks above. It just requires will power and perhaps some more time spent cooking and planning your own food – but you will be surprised how good it feels to make your own meals, and you can actually save some money compared to eating out… and your body will love you!
Mastering your health: How to do exercise regularly
I am not a personal trainer or anything similar, so the following exercise advice is based on a routine that (sort of) works for me:
I believe that you should be exercising a least 3-4 times per week and preferably daily. It keeps your mind and body young, so you can enjoy your early retirement to the fullest. Doing exercise can be done in a lot of ways (e.g. running/biking to work, at-home exercises on a mat, walking around the neighborhood). This is what I strive to live by:
- Do not spend money on fitness centers: I believe fitness centers can be a major cost driver (depending on which country you are from), so generally I would not advice to spend money when you have so many exercise opportunities available for free or at a very low-cost. However, if it really drives your motivation to get down there and exercise with other people (perhaps on teams), then you should consider doing it. I have acquired an exercise mat and resistance bands for my home exercises and use my neighborhood and nearby parks for runs. Whenever I want to practice a new exercise session or learn something new, I go to YouTube and search for free resources (for example, I learned doing yoga with Adriene)
- Set realistic goals: This is an advice I know I have failed with in the past. In order to make regular exercise a part of your daily life, you have to set realistic goals. In essence, you want to set goals for how often and how much you want to work out and what your short-term and long-term goals are. Make sure that your goals are achievable with the life you are currently living. If you are over-ambitious, you will most likely fail and not get going
- Build it into your daily routine: Just as brushing your teeth twice a day should be a daily routine, try to make exercise part of your daily routines
- Do both cardio and strength exercises: I believe it is very important that you both do cardio exercises (e.g. through running) and muscle/strength exercise. This way you keep your body young and strong
- Strength: In my weekly routine, I try to do 15 minutes (no breaks) high intensity muscle circuit training at least 3 times per week
- Cardio: In my weekly routine, I try to bike to work every day and run at least twice for 30 minutes (in intensity intervals) per week
I am by no means a fitness king and I am still struggling on integrating into my daily routine, but recently I have started setting off 15 minutes every night before I go to bed (you can always find those 15 minutes if you want) to do high intensive circuit training – and it works for now.
#2 best investment: Your education
Now that you have invested in your health to make sure you’ll live a long life, it is time to talk about the second best investment you will ever make: investing in your education. The reason for this is that:
- You’ll get a good salary: If you want to retire early, minimum wage simply won’t work. It will be easier to achieve early retirement if you get a good salary – and remember, that is what we are here for
- You’ll be challenged more than in lower paying jobs: In higher paid jobs where a longer education is required, you will most likely be faced with less repetitive work tasks, which most people prefer
- You’ll be ready for the robots: The robots are rising and many jobs (especially lower paying jobs) will be substituted in the coming years. Robots are to a much smaller degree taking knowledge-intensive jobs
- You’ll gain a great network for the future: By studying you will get access to a whole network of people who has the same interests as you and that might come in handy in the future
Before deciding on an education, you should spend time on finding out what you actually think is exciting. If you end up studying or working with something you are not interested in, you will fail. Fail to be happy. Fail to progress and achieve your goals at the right pace (but remember that a job will not be hilarious every day regardless of which job you take).
You don’t need an expensive education from an Ivy League university, but an education will still cost some money (except if you are as fortunate as me to live in Denmark, where education is free and people get paid to go to university). If you have to get in debt, make sure that you’ll be able to earn it back quickly.
You have to consider what you’ll use your education for afterwards. Look for jobs that are interesting with low unemployment rate and a decent starting salary. Also, make sure that your job offers decent career opportunities (inside and outside the company) in the future. Considering these things, will enable you to pay off your debt faster once you have landed a job after finishing your studies.
Imagine if you earned double of what you do today? For most people, that is not impossible. Imagine how much more you could save up each month. For some people, this is definitely achievable and underlines the importance of investing in your education.
Making the investments
Now, it is up to you and me to ensure that we make the right investments in ourselves. Only then should we start focusing on investing in other assets.
My thoughts on health, exercise and education above are by no means exhaustive, so feel free to let me know if you have any reflections or good tips in the comments!