invest in yourself PINTERESTWe’re kicking off May by focusing on saving and investing. Today’s post by Teresa Dentino, of the Financial 411, covers one of the most important investments you can make: investing in yourself!

All too often when discussing savvy money behaviors–saving, budgeting, investing, retirement–we deal with the negative connotations, the feelings of “deprivation”, “sacrifice,” and possibly “withdrawal.” We have the best intentions, but “punishment” seems the near-term consequence when saving for the ubiquitous rainy day or retirement–both of which seem so far off in the distance.

Striking It Rich

So when you’re starting out, the initial significant inflows of money that come from those first product sales or perhaps a corporate bonus feel like a major windfall after all the sacrifice that went into reaching that particular milestone. You are now feeling (albeit momentarily) very rich!

I call this the windfall effect and for all people–not just women–the most common reaction is the tendency to go out and splurge with these newfound riches. Among the women I coach, I see this occur regularly among those who have inherited, and now have access to a much larger amount of money than they have previously managed. Over-spending it is one of the possible perils.

Reward As Investing in Yourself

Your hefty paycheck or big bonus isn’t a windfall though–you’ve earned every dollar of it! I encourage my clients to honor all their hard work by splurging on themselves. When you reward yourself, you’re commemorating the time and energy you’ve spent earning that bigger balance in your bank account. This shift in thinking is a key way to invest in yourself, since rewards can be pivotal to your success in staying on track with your long-term saving and investing goals. The idea of rewarding ourselves is a very correct one that unfortunately doesn’t get as much print as all the “hardship” behaviors do.

Redefine What It Means to Splurge

It might help to remind yourself that a splurge is something you want but don’t need, which otherwise is an impulse that has no monetary value. I like to buy something lasting with my portion of the “windfall” money; this way I have a solid reminder of all my hard work, be it even so modest as a lovely potted plant, or something more grand, like a piece of jewelry.

By splurging this way, your rewards will also serve as symbolic motivation to keep on track. The important thing is to keep it in proportion to the amount you have received, while balanced against other financial planning considerations. If you try this approach I’m sure you will find the same thrill and satisfaction of a splurge, but without derailing your best laid plans!