I have not spent my $1200 stimulus check since I have no real savings. I am insecure about losing my job but really want to do something else anyway if I get laid off. Should I invest in getting training for a future job or just keep the money in an emergency account?
Save It or Go For It?
Dear Save It or Go For It,
Many, like you, are wisely using the pandemic to ponder their careers. I commend you for saving your check; your question is important.
I believe that investing in your future right now will be worth far more than your $1200 stimulus check will be if it is sitting in a bank account. At the same time, you need to have some savings whether or not you do get laid off. Let’s dig deeper on your question.
Offense and Defense
Financial defense allows you to stay within your comfort zone. It protects what you already have. However, going on offense means developing new skills, learning how to network, negotiating raises and pursuing high-level opportunities. This increases your skill, your capacity and your earning potential.
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” To cultivate a healthy, secure financial life that supports you and your family, you need a strong defense and a solid offense.
Do you know what career you would like to pursue? Cultivate your self-awareness and discover what’s causing the dissatisfaction at your current job. Can you carve out a new role for yourself there? Or is it indeed time to step out?
Unclear career direction can cost you a life of purpose. Employers may be unaware of your talents. God gave you those to develop them in order to bless others and bring Him glory. Have you settled for mediocrity but desire to work with excellence?
Now is an excellent time to go on the offense and build your capacity for the future. I recommend using your stimulus check to get training, licenses, or equipment you may need for future opportunities.
Investing in yourself will help you become the masterpiece God created you to be (Ephesians 2:10). You will gain confidence, knowledge and marketability that will benefit your career, volunteer roles and relationships.
Aim to be a lifelong learner. Make it part of your morning routine, a part of your day, and before you go to sleep. Incorporating small doses of learning throughout the day will help you be more informed and intellectually invigorated in no time. Never grow complacent and never stop learning.
Replace your free time with a massive open online course (MOOC) from places like EdX, Udemy and Coursera. I’m currently taking a class in finance by Nobel Laureate, Dr. Robert Schiller. It is a fantastic course from Yale hosted at Coursera and it is free!
Millennial Money lists five essential job skills and the free or low cost online tools for training in each area:
● Selling and communication
● Digital marketing
● Business and marketing analytics
● Branding and design
Strengthen your skills or learn new ones to enhance your marketability in today’s competitive environment. They will improve your career options and help you thrive during uncertain times.
Employers want people who are responsible and self-directed. A resume is one of the first opportunities to reveal who you are. Enhance your LinkedIn profile. Candidates who clearly understand their path and what they want in their career demonstrate focus and goal-orientation. Knowing your strengths and having the ability to point to your success at work or elsewhere are important. Most important is the ability to work well on a team.
These qualities will be evident in the answers you give to interview questions. Just as important are the questions you ask your interviewer. You do not have to talk about your character traits; they will be obvious in the way you present yourself. Spend some time researching the company and prepare some informed questions.
Don’t Overlook Trade Schools
You may want to pursue a specific trade or professional certification. I’ve spoken to several men in service industries since being “sheltered in” who have more work than they can handle.
A friend told me that far too much of our higher education system is designed to convince students to borrow money they cannot repay, take classes they cannot use, to get education they do not need, for jobs that do not exist. He is convinced that the economic reset will change this. Trade schools equip people with something they can use. Also, many community colleges offer courses and programs that lead directly to jobs that are in local demand.
Crown offers career assessments and coaching via our Career Direct tool. Career Direct has helped thousands of professionals and recent graduates discover the work they love. If you are looking for a practical step toward discovering your best career fit, meet with one of our thousands of trained consultants who can help you gain clarity of your vocational calling.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.