We are living in very tight times – the economy is going all to hell, I just heard on the radio this morning that the TSE dropped 500 pts in the first hour of trading! Ouch. My pension is definatly not doing well, so I’m seriously considering putting money into cash accounts instead — yes, I understand that you should by low and sell high; so really that’s my first reaction. In reality, I won’t be so quick to liquidate but will be watching my investments.
So in turbulent times, what can you do to help yourself?
If you’re working – work harder, but you should always look at working smarter. The best way to work smart, is to enhance your education.
Here are my Top Ways to Enhance Your Education In Rough Times (or any time…).
Visit Your Local Library
Don’t spend, unless you really have to. Most libraries in major cities have excellent book collections in a wide range of topics and subject areas. Before you buy, visit the library to see if they have the book you want. If they don’t have the book, most libraries will take requests from patrons — ask them if they’ll buy the book! This has worked for me — and the bonus has been that I got first dibs on the book when it was brought in.
OK, so did I just contradict myself? Well, yes and no. If your library isn’t willing to buy the book – buy it yourself. We all love instant gratification, but did you know that if you purchase a book on-line you could save as much as 40% off the price?
Consider this – in my recent post “To MBA Or Not To MBA” I mentioned that I purchased three books from Amazon online – the cost of the books was around $60.00 — however when I went into the store to purchase them it was around $100.00 — close to DOUBLE! When I asked the clerk why, they said that there is lower overhead for them to sell online versus in-store.
Even before you consider an on-line purchase, check out used book stores to save even more! I enjoy science fiction and am not picky about old vs new so usually pick up older books after they’ve been in print for a few years. A book that is worth around $12.00 can be purchased for as little as $1.00 depending on the condition.
Finally consider posting an ad on Craigslist or other similar service for the books you’re looking for. You will be surprised as to the responses you will get. I’ve successfully sold hundreds of dollars of old DVDs that my son doesn’t watch for as much as 75% of he original purchase price!
Number 3 on my list is to look for online courses and other types of services that provide “free” information. For example, I am interested in learning more about strategic planning — but many courses are often expensive and run at odd times. So I went to Google and found some great websites – one that stood out was this one – http://www.managementhelp.org/plan_dec/str_plan/basics.htm - they provide some excellent information which will help supplement what I already know and lead me to other avenues of learning more about this topic.
In the past, I’ve come accross many other sites that offer high-quality on-line learning. Many of the courses were directed at people in a certain geographic area but after speaking with the manager of the program they were willing to let me in.
Let me give you one more example – I was looking for grade 1 and 2 lesson plans for my son, and found a great website but it was intended only for teachers. Once again, I e-mailed the site manager and they let me into the site so that I could find and download what I need.
Professional Associations / Hiring Agencies Rock
Many professional associations provide low-cost or subsidised training – look into them! For example, although this isn’t a professional organization, one of the hiring agencies I used to hire agents frequently offers webinars and free workshops. These workshops are never “sales sessions” either, they provide solid and very useful information — best of all, they are FREE!
If you are working with a hiring agency, ask them if they offer any type of webinar or workshops for their customers. Some companies might provide books or other services that you don’t even know about.
This is one of the best ways to gain additional exposure, although in recent times charitable organizations are looking for more experienced and seasoned individuals – it’s worthwhile to ask and see what is available. Many charitable organizations are able to get training for their staff at low or no cost through government subsidies and grants that only they have access to. Others also offer their own training, which has been developed by professional organizations.
Volunteering not only opens you to education opportunities, but the chance to network with others.
These are only a few ways you can enhance your education, I’ve got a couple more ideas and will share those with you tomorrow.