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Learn on a Budget: It’s Easier Than You Think!

“How Do You Learn on a Budget?”

During one of my programs on Creating a Learning Culture, a participant asked, “We’re facing serious expense pressures. How can we continue to support professional development? How can we learn on a budget?”

First of all, a disclaimer: One of my Strengths is Learner, which means I love to learn just for the sake of learning, with no end goal in mind. My other Strengths that amplify Learner are Input (collect information from everywhere), Intellection (think about ideas), Ideation (generate ideas), and Relator (talk about ideas).

My first thought was, “Is it even possible not to learn?” So, here are some tips on how you can “learn on a budget” and make it part of your daily routine!

Learning in the Morning

By the time I wake up in the morning, my husband already has the television turned to the morning news. In the two minutes it takes to make my coffee, I might learn about a new local controversy, business expansion, or human interest story.

Learning in the Afternoon

Even if I don’t go looking for new information during the day, it’s on my radio, on social media, in my email inbox. In the car, I’m likely to catch an NPR story that relates to my work in some way. If I’m not listening to NPR, there’s a good chance I’m tuned into a podcast or audiobook. (Did you know you can get free audiobooks from your local library? Talk about learning on a budget!)

Sometimes, during lunch, I’ll take time out to attend a webinar offered by a professional association, usually free for members. Trade magazines I don’t remember subscribing to show up in my mailbox regularly. There are stacks of books I’ve not read (…yet) in my office and on my nightstand. My Kindle runneth over. (You can also get print and eBooks from your library for free.)

Learning at Suppertime

When my family sits down to eat dinner together (still happens most nights), we talk about what happened during the day. I ask my kids what they tried that was new, what they’re reading or watching, and what they’ve learned. As we’re watching television together after dinner (usually Jeopardy!), we occasionally Google the answers (questions?) we don’t know much about.

Learning Anytime

Here are some more free and low-cost ways to learn on a budget:

  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Social media (especially if you follow thought leaders and influencers on LinkedIn)
  • Online magazines, such as Forbes, Inc., and industry-specific journals

I could go for weeks never spending a dime on professional development, but I can’t imagine going a day without learning!

What are your best tips for learning, on a budget?

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