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Do you fall into the trap of spending on vague "self-improvement" items? This week, Chelsea walks you through five good investments that will *actually* make you better. Check out this video for even more ways to better yourself:

This video is brought to you by Chime Bank.

Health & Fitness Excuses:

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Finding a Personal Fitness Trainer:

How Much Does a Personal Trainer Cost?

6 Things You Should Do Instead of Reading Another Self-Help Book:

6 Reasons for Eating Healthy:

6 Amazing Ways to Invest in Yourself (and Make it Your Best Investment):

How Continued Adult Learning Improves Brain Health:

Why Self-Help Usually Doesn’t Work ... and What Always Does:

The Financial Diet site:

Hey guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by Chime.

And today, I wanted to talk about something that is often a ton of bullshit but can actually be real and helpful if you do it the right way, and that is self-improvement. We've had some videos on the channel before where we've talked about the dangerous or useless "self-improvement" jargon, where things like the secret which basically tell you that you can will yourself into anything you want, which is also just like physically impossible. But self-improvement as a concept should not be thrown out with the bathwater of all of that bad advice.

At the end of the day, this channel is about self-improvement, just in a much more practical way. And sometimes, self-improvement costs no money at all. There are plenty of habits that you can change and ways that you can behave differently without spending $1.00.

But sometimes, you do have to pony up a little bit, and we want to talk about when it's really worth it to invest in self-improvement. So from your body to your mind to your work, we want to talk about the five self-improvement purchases that are actually worth it. Number one is personal training.

Now I want to put a few caveats on this because I have a feeling that the people who are really into fitness are going to firebomb the comments and say, how dare you. You can totally work out for free from the comfort of your own home, and that's true. But a lot of people don't and won't.

I'm someone, who like many of you probably, over the years tried and failed to start an exercise regime on my own. I would sign up for sometimes expensive gym memberships and take like six months to cancel that purchase. And statistically, that bears out with the average.

According to a study around why Americans aren't going to the gym, 21% said they skip going because they don't know what to do once they get there. And 3% said that they don't go because they feel afraid to ask questions. For those of you who might feel natural about starting a workout regimen or who have just never stopped since they were a little kid, the idea of getting started can feel effortless.

But for so many people, it's those first few weeks in any kind of gym scenario that really overwhelm them. And as I said, I was one of those people. But now, for about the past five months, I've been doing Pilates almost every day and actually look forward to going.

And while now I use an unlimited pass to go to as many studio classes as I like, I initially started out with three one-on-one sessions with a trainer. I was able to ask all the questions I wanted to ask. I didn't feel nervous or embarrassed about doing the wrong thing.

And I was able to learn the correct form that allowed me to follow classes. And this could be the same whether you're looking to do yoga or weightlifting or basically anything where you need at least a little bit of foundational information to get started. Just walking into a gym and randomly picking things up, as many people do, is a good way to, A, potentially injure yourself, B, not get really great results, and C, quit early on because you're not seeing what you want to see.

For most people, we don't have a ton of time to dedicate to exercise. So having a personal trainer also allows you to do exactly what you need and not waste time on things that aren't really helping you meet your goals. But perhaps most importantly, that personal trainer for that beginning stage where you're trying to get over the hump of actually enjoying going to the gym provides accountability.

It's so much easier to just blow something off if no one's going to care or notice if you don't go. And if you're someone who has been longing to get into a more physically active lifestyle but really feels like they don't have the accountability to get started, a personal trainer can honestly just serve as someone who will get your shit together and literally text or call you if you don't show up. And while it can be expensive, anywhere from $30 to $100 an hour depending on where you live and what you're doing, you don't have to do indefinitely.

Even something like five sessions invested in once can help give you the foundation that will make you actually want to keep going at a much less expensive rate. The point is when it comes to physical fitness, don't just spend blindly on things like a gym membership. Everything you're doing should be targeted.

And even the fanciest gym membership means nothing if you're not actually showing up. Number two is brain pickings. Now I'm someone who works in a creative industry that a lot of people don't know how to get into.

And this was even true when I was just a staff writer at another company. And the truth is when I was first getting into writing, I didn't know how to do it either. And so many times, people would and still do email me with these sort of cold asks for advice or mentorship or just asking me a bunch of questions that they can't find on Google.

And I don't have a problem with that because I know how it felt to be in that position. But it's also important that you remember that this person you're asking for help from has precious little time to give you. And it's your job to incentivize them to spend it on you.

So no matter what industry you're in or what you're looking to do a really good idea is to have a small budget set away every month or every other month for industry brain pickings where you literally ask someone in your industry, could I take you out to lunch? Could I take you out for drinks? Give them something that makes it more of an incentive.

It's a small gesture. But what it shows is that you're really valuing these people's time. They may end up saying, don't worry about it.

We can just have a phone call. But the point is you're offering already wanting to do something for them as they're giving to you. When my husband was looking to switch industries, he probably took a solid two dozen people out for beers to pick their brains, talk to them about the work they were doing, and ask how he can get more involved in what he wanted to do.

He didn't find a job by applying to a posting online. He found the job over a period of about six months by making personal connections and following up with those people. As one great article on the topic put it, "Get on the phone and make three calls to potential clients or connections.

Offer them value with whatever you do. The success of your business is a direct reflection of the people you've surrounded yourself with." On many occasions, I've been out for drinks after work with women in my industry who either I was looking for help from or vice versa. And those small connections have meant more to me in my career development than basically any resume I've ever put together.

Set aside that budget for brain picking and use it to do the things that you want to do outside of the track of your day-to-day job. Number three is higher quality food. Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that what we put into our bodies is extremely important, not just to how we feel, but how we operate on a day-to-day basis.

One 2012 study published by Population Health Management found that eating an unhealthy diet puts you at a 66% increased risk of productivity loss. It's not just bad for your body to eat bad food. It's bad for your brain.

But it's also no secret that in America it's often more expensive to eat healthy food than it is to eat unhealthy food. There are also places called food deserts where the local population has to go really far in order to get things like fresh fruits or vegetables. But the upfront expense of paying more for better food is often mitigated by the long-term expense that you're paying by eating crappier stuff.

Eating an unhealthy diet costs your body enormously over time. And study after study has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated overwhelmingly with longevity and also reduced illness. But the path to eating better is not just buying things that say "organic" because organic is actually a word that's really poorly regulated and means way different things for different products.

And also, organic doesn't automatically translate to better. Things like in-season are often way more important for stuff like produce than the organic label. But one very easy way to shift your diet to a healthier one without totally inflating the cost is to focus on eating less meat throughout the week and making sure that when you do buy meat, you invest in higher quality meat and not just for the benefits to your body, but also for its ethical benefits.

A good way to get started if you're looking to invest in bettering your diet is to do a week where you just journal every single thing that you eat and about roughly what it costs. There are definitely going to be areas when fixing your diet that you'll actually spend less money. But there may be areas where you start to spend a bit more to get higher quality products.

But overwhelmingly, the research shows that eating those healthy foods is better for you and less expensive in the long term. Number four is anything that helps you sleep well. So I am someone who has had sleep issues basically my whole life.

Even when I was a little tiny kid, I can remember staying up till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning because my body just wouldn't get tired. I'm someone who experiences a delayed sleep phase, which means that my body naturally wants to sleep from around 1:00 in the morning to around 10:00 in the morning. But, of course, I work a regular 9:00 to 5:00 job, so that's basically impossible for me.

And as a result, I've learned to adapt the way I live my life to make sure that the sleep I am getting is of the highest quality. Because sleep isn't just about your physical body, nor is it just about how rested you feel, the basis of self-improvement, most of the time, is having the energy-- mentally and physically-- to actually follow through on the stuff that you want to do and the habits you want to change. If you're not sleeping well, your entire life is really affected as a result.

A study from the American Psychology Association revealed incredibly increased levels of stress, anger, and anxiety in people who are not getting enough sleep and even showed that people who receive less than five hours a night of sleep are at a greatly increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Reduced sleep also makes you way less productive, way more susceptible to things like common colds, and much less likely to motivate yourself to do things like exercise. Almost everything you might want to accomplish on the self-improvement front depends on that quality sleep as a baseline.

And the process of investing in better sleep is twofold. First, you want to actually analyze your sleep. And you can do that with things like a Fitbit or you can do it with stuff like apps that you put on your phone-- some of which are even free.

These apps won't just tell you how long you slept but will measure the quality of your sleep and show you more about what's interrupting it. From there, you can work backwards and deduce the things that you need help with. For me, one of the biggest difficulties in my sleep cycle is that my husband needs to sleep with the blackout curtains totally closed in order to get quality sleep.

But I wake up much better if I wake up with the sun. So the compromise is that we invested in a sun-imitating lamp that wakes me up slowly and more naturally. I've also invested in things like melatonin or even prescription sleep aids during times of stress or anxiety when I was having a harder time than usual following my minimum sleep patterns.

Even things like a higher quality mattress and pillows that are more adapted to how you physically sleep can be a huge help. The point is almost every dollar you spend that goes directly into better sleep will pay dividends throughout your entire life. And number five is ongoing education.

Something that may feel obvious when you hear it, but you may not have thought of is how directly reading has to do with our overall mental health. According to one study, reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. And reading is not just about reducing stress.

It's also about diversifying what you're capable of doing. And there are many small ways to invest in this ongoing education. Obviously, there are places to start like a library card, which costs nothing and give you access not just to tons of books but also to movies, to music, and even in-person classes throughout the year.

But there are also things like online learning platforms where, for a small investment, you can do deep dives on subjects that are either related to your day-to-day work or on a totally new path. Places like community colleges are wonderful to keep going in a particular skill that you've been looking to learn more of. And many industries will actually pay for their employees to do certain continued learning in the field.

Whatever it is that you want to learn more about, the act of learning itself is also just incredibly beneficial to your brain. You can think of your brain like you think of any muscle in your body. The more you work it, the stronger it will be and the easier it will be to continue working it.

Continued learning, even in a subject that is totally removed from your day-to-day work, has a profound effect on how agile and productive your brain is capable of being. It's not just a saying when people talk about learning being the key to staying young. So you can safely tell yourself that taking that class, even if it doesn't lead to $1.00 return on investment in terms of using and monetizing that skill, will still have profound benefits in whatever your day-to-day work is.

Ultimately, self-improvement is about doing things based on what you actually need and not arbitrary metrics. Every dollar should be accounted for. And one of the best ways to account for every dollar is with an awesome digital bank like Chime.

Using a digital bank like Chime from the comfort of your phone allows you to avoid nasty hidden fees, pay your friends on the go through the app, and save more money without having to think about it with their automated rollover savings. Banking doesn't have to suck, and it doesn't have to charge you money just for the privilege of storing your own. You can start banking smarter today by switching to Chime, ditching the fees, and rethinking how your phone can totally change the way you do money for the better.

Get started with Chime at the link in our description. So as always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos.