Stop salivating right now because I'm not suggesting you head out and buy that 1955 Corvette you've always dreamed about. Chances are that unless you have some amazing 20-20 hindsight and a time machine, you're not going to be successful amassing a fortune by purchasing cars. Likewise, I'm not going to suggest you stock up on Dell computers or power tools from Stanley Black & Decker either. These all might be fun toys, and they make plenty of money for the companies that make them, but the products themselves typically make for poor investments as they generally lose their value over time.

So what asset that loses value over time would you ever wanted to invest in? How about yourself?!

Think about it: After we spend decades getting our education, the natural trend for our lifetime earning potential is to decline over time. With each successive year you get closer to retirement, you lessen your future earning potential, making it all the more important that you do what you can now in order to maximize your retirement. After gaining a new perspective on the value of a human life from The New York Times, it appears even I have a lot of making up to do.

Here are some suggestions of investments you can you make in yourself in order to have a comfortable retirement:

  • Education -- Everything starts with your education. From getting the right job to investing in the stock market, if you don't have the proper credentials or training, the chance of maximizing your potential drops off rapidly.
  • Roth IRA -- I know it will be a struggle for some of you to add to a portfolio that you essentially can't touch for decades, but a Roth IRA offers completely tax-free growth potential. Finding anything nowadays that's tax-free is a blessing, and you should be taking advantage of maximizing your Roth IRA every year.
  • 401(k) -- Investing in a 401(k) may never be as lucrative as a Roth IRA since you are taxed on your money when you withdraw, but it also holds other possible benefits, such as the often-overlooked company match. Some well-profiled companies will match your contributions up to a certain level, and you need to be taking advantage of this free money.
  • Dividends -- Give yourself a yearly raise by investing these long-term funds in established dividend companies. Based on the rules of compounding, if you want to double your money based on dividend rates alone about every 13 years, then buying shares of strong dividend stocks Altria Group (NYSE: MO), AT&T (NYSE: T), and ONEOK Partners (NYSE: OKS) might be just the ticket.
  • Pay down debts -- For most of us, our credit cards have higher interest rates than our stocks have dividend yields. Or to put it bluntly, you're going to pay more in interest on the debt you carry than you can make from your investments in most cases. It's in your best interest to pay off your debts as soon as is reasonably possible.

Striking the gavel
In the end, each of us is accountable for our own investing decisions, but it's in the best interests of all of us to maximize our earning potential. Whether you use any of the above suggestions or have your own ideas, just remember that you are the most important commodity worth investing in, so don't be a Scrooge!

What suggestions do you have for maximizing your lifetime earning potential? Share your ideas in the comments section below and consider adding high-yield dividend players Altria Group, AT&T, and ONEOK Partners, as well as your own personalized portfolio of companies to My Watchlist.