Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself can be one of the most beneficial actions you take in 2016. And this doesn’t need to mean costly higher education. You can invest in yourself on a budget if you consider alternatives for continuing education.

Continuing your education can improve your career, inspire you to start a passion project, help you learn a new language and travel to new places, or motivate you to improve overall personal growth.

Many non-traditional options for building skills and knowledge, like online courses, were uncommon in the past but are becoming more widely accepted in lieu of formal education. If you’re looking to improve your career, better your business, or accomplish personal growth without spending thousands on formal training, try one of these ways to invest in yourself on a budget.

Pursue Your Passion Project

Want to pursue your own passion project, be it a side business or nonprofit — but thought it was too expensive to get started? Not with this course by The Muse.

How to Finally Start Your Side Project is a free, three day emailed-based course that will help you get started on your passion project all at your own pace.

Looking to grow something on the side? You may be interested in Copyblogger’s free Internet Marketing for Smart People course instead. This course is comprised of 16 e-books and a 20 email course, and is done all at your own pace. It’s designed to improve your social media, content marketing, and SEO to increase traffic and leads to your side passion.

Further Develop Your Career

If you’ve ever wondered how to succeed as an introvert, or how body language affects ourselves and the people around us, or how being vulnerable can serve you in a professional sense, consider tuning in to the most popular TED Talks online. Available for free, you can browse through topics on business and urban planning, or search for the most viewed lectures to learn about an array of different topics — like motivating yourself in the workforce, or harnessing your elusive creative genius.

The possibilities are endless, with over 2,000 talks to browse. If you’re looking to get inspired in 2016, viewing some TedX lectures is a great way to get started.

Along the lines of TedX lectures, Khan Academy offers a specific course for those interested in how specific entrepreneurs got their start, grew their companies, and how they’re planning for the future. This is an eye-opening free course based on interviews with entrepreneurs like Richard Branson (The Virgin Group) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) will motivate you and give insight into how entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Invest in Personal Growth

If travel is your passion, don’t let a language barrier get in your way. While you may not become fluent, it is possible to learn many polite and informative phrases online before embarking on international travel.

Duolingo is a free language learning service that garners high praise for its fun approach to learning a new language. Duolingo turns language acquisition into a game, rewarding you for getting answers right and encouraging you to race against the clock. Duolingo offers many languages to learn, including Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.

A little closer to home, you can also improve your communication with on- and offline courses. Public speaking is a valuable skill to master, especially if you’re like most people and find the prospect of getting in front of a room full of people one of the scariest social actions you can take. Learning to speak with confidence will help you become more confident in delivering all types of information, even if it’s only to your spouse or coworkers.

Practice your public speaking techniques from the security of your own home through Coursera’s free Public Speaking course through the University of Washington. And then practice your speeches at a local Toastmasters group. Toastmasters are all over the world, and guests are welcome to practice their speeches for free.

In the past, many people viewed online courses in a negative light, but as courses become more affordable, reputable, and easy to access, that stigma is fading away. These career, personal growth and business courses are but a few of the many hundreds of courses you can take online to boost your skills or to pursue personal interests.

Whether you’re improving your job prospects or just love to learn, you’re sure to find at least a few affordable courses that interest and challenge you.