Inflation is raising its ugly head for the first time in decades. The war in Ukraine has caused global energy prices to skyrocket. This has forced the price of petrol and diesel in many countries to double. Given that transport is such an important component in the price of goods, and to a lesser extent services, inflation is moving higher. We could be heading into a scenario similar to what we saw in the 1970s when stocks did nothing, while tangible goods such as gold and other commodities duplicated, tripled and even quadrupled in price. In this inflationary environment we could also see Bitcoin bottoming from its precipitous slide and head back to $50,000 levels. Amidst all this uncertainty and chaos, there is one investment that is perfect - it beats inflation, it is tax free, it has unlimited upside potential and is completely within your reach. It is an investment in yourself.
But don't take my word for it, listen to the words of one of the greatest investors that has ever lived - Warren E Buffett. At the 2022 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting, Buffett urged listeners to invest in themselves, arguing this is the best course of action when inflation is surging: “The best investment by far is anything that develops yourself….whatever abilities you have can’t be taken away from you. They can’t actually be inflated away from you."
Here are 5 great ways to invest in yourself.
1) Continuous Education
Albert Einstein said “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious”. What do curious people do? They are always educating themselves. Their minds are filled with questions. Curiosity is linked so closely with success because it drives you into the unknown, which is where you make discoveries, develop relationships, uncover opportunities, and experience growth. Curiosity drives continuous education. A good place to start in 2022 is understanding the current global financial situation. We are living in fascinating times and it is likely that very compelling investment opportunities will emerge. You also want to learn about things you are not traditionally interested in. If you love sports and finance, take an online course in art or wine tasting. This forces your brain to adopt and process new information on a foreign subject.
2) Prioritise Physical and Mental Health
We all know we should exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep and be more mindful. Yet, on a daily basis we fall into the trap of taking the path of least resistance. It is easier to pound the snooze button than pound the gym at 6am. It is easier to crack open a Snickers bar than make a kale salad. When Netflix asks you at 11pm if you are still watching after three episodes of Breaking Bad, it is easier to click “continue watching” than it is to brush your teeth and hit the sack. First thing in the morning it is easier to grab your phone and watch a YouTube video than to meditate for 15 minutes. The reason why these healthy habits are hard is because they are worthwhile and the returns are astonishing. If they were easy the returns would be low or zero.
3) Experiences over Possessions
A new pair of designer jeans or a music concert with your friends? Buying a new video game or inviting your best friend on a surfing weekend? What investment will deliver you the best returns? The novelty of the new jeans and video game will wear off in a couple of days - the memory of the experience will last for a lifetime. To my mind, this is a no brainer. Studies have shown that the happiest people are not those with the most stuff - in fact these people tend to be the most miserable because their stuff owns them. The happiest people are those with the strongest human connections to others, and there is no better way to build connections than through shared experiences.
4) Learn a Foreign Language
We live in a global village where the ability to connect has never been easier. Learning a foreign language opens your horizons to new people, cultures, and cuisines that will enrich your life in more ways than you think. It will also sharpen your brain - every new language your learn is believed to delay dementia by five years - it will automatically make you sexier to members of the opposiute sex, it will sharpen your discipline skills, and will provide you with new persepctive on life as you realise that the world is not exclusively populated with people that talk like you.
5) Be Grateful
You could argue that there has never been a better time to be alive. Agreed, the last 20 years have been a little rough. We had the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2008 financial meltdown, the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, and we are now living through a global pandemic. But look at the positive. Between 2000 and 2015 the number of people living in poverty has halved. We have access to the best healthcare ever. We are better off than the richest man in the world in the 1920s. John D Rockefeller was the richest man in the world, but for the first 28 years of the 20th century, he did not have access to antibiotics. We live in an age of democratization of knowledge and education. The 1980s and 1990s recorded the highest rates of economic growth ever in history. There is an abundance of food, it has been 75 years since the last world war, democracy is by far the most dominant political system and commodity prices have fallen. There is widespread availability of high-speed internet, the internet itself has made the global market open to everyone. Ethnic minorities, women and gay people have never lived in a more tolerant and acceptant society. Things are pretty fucking good!
So follow the wise words of the world's greatest investor, a man who has delivered returns never seen before. His advice to you is invest in yourself and he gives one specific example and that is communication. If you can't communicate, it's like winking at a girl in the dark--nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication. Buffett says that investing in developing your communication skills can "improve your value by 50 percent."