Tips for spending your training dollars wisely

In this article, I’m going to tell you all you need to know to get certified in financial planning. Whoops, that's not quite right. I’m going to give you advice for smart financial planning while you’re getting certified. Ah, that's more like it!

One thing that always amazes me is the spending patterns of people pursuing certifications. I've heard many stories of people who've spent thousands of dollars on training classes but refuse to shell out a few hundred dollars to buy a second computer to play around with. Other people postpone their exams for weeks or even months because they don't want to "waste $100 by failing."

Here are a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck while you're getting certified. These tips won't make you a Certified Financial Planner. That's not my goal. Helping you become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer is good enough for me.

Tip #1: Be very careful before shelling out thousands of dollars for training.

Training might be the number-one area where people spend needlessly. You first need to take a long, hard look at whether training is appropriate for you. If you determine that it is, then you need to do a lot of research into which training facility will best meet your needs. For an insider’s view of certification training centers, check out "View from the Training Center" at http://www.certtutor.net/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=23623.

Tip #2: Don't delay taking your exams.

Let's say a guy named Bob has quit his full-time job to get his MCSE certification. He has some experience in the computer field and predicts that when he achieves his certification, he’ll be able to make about $36,000 a year (or about $700 a week).

However, Bob is very nervous about taking the exams. He’s afraid of failing and doesn't want to shell out $100 more often than he has to. Bob continually pushes his exam dates back and ends up finishing his MCSE two months later than he had planned. He is happy, though, because he passed all his exams along the way.

What Bob didn't consider is how much two months without a paycheck cost him. In this case, it's more than $5,000! I’m not telling anyone to rush through their studies. You do need to spend a lot of time learning the product. However, don't delay taking your exams any longer than necessary. The "I don't want to drop $100" excuse just doesn't make sense.

If Microsoft would let me come up with one prerequisite for certification, I would recommend that every person have a home network in place to practice on before they could take a Microsoft exam. With a home network, you'll be able to work through labs and test theories as you study. In addition, merely setting up the network itself will be a tremendous learning opportunity.

Tip #3: Splurge in certain areas.

Invest money in resources that you'll use long after you're certified. Some examples are:

  • Computers and networking equipment. Just because you’ll eventually get your MCSE doesn't mean you'll ever stop learning. In fact, the certification is only the beginning! Your home network is your best friend along the way, and it makes sense to treat your best friend well. Buy that extra computer. Upgrade the memory in your old system so you can run Windows 2000. You'll thank yourself in the long run.


  • Technical books. Books help you learn what you need to know to get certified. In addition, you can use these books as reference materials long after you finish your certifications. So when it comes to picking up books that you know will help you for years to come, don't penny pinch. Here are a couple of books I recommend (you can easily find both at Amazon or Bookpool): Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit and Mastering Windows 2000 Server.

Tip #4: Get all the free stuff that you can!

Many people are surprised when they find out about all the resources they can get without spending a dime. Take advantage of free stuff. One of the most popular pages on CertTutor.net is the Free Stuff page, where you’ll find links to many offers that are either free or excellent bargains. You can save thousands of dollars from the deals on this page. To check out our Free Stuff page, go to http://www.certtutor.net/FreeStuff/