The term financial freedom or financial independence would no doubt seem familiar to you if you have read personal finance blogs or books before this.
It is a goal that I’m currently pursuing. I believe it is also what most people are working hard to achieve.
As we slip into adulthood, so do our responsibilities which inevitably spike up by a large margin.
And our rosy and kind impression of the world will be swept off to be replaced by stress and anxiety while we struggle to make money to survive with occasional unexpected expensive bills like health expenses, car or house repairs, and so on.
It is a phase that most of us will face, albeit at different points in our lives.
But if we were to obtain financial freedom, it means we’re no longer bound by the feeling of stress and anxiety associated with money.
And the unexpected bills—although would still cost us some degree of heartache—wouldn’t affect us to the extent of having sleepless nights and a hungry stomach.
Some reality check, achieving financial freedom is a long journey that doesn’t show overnight.
But like hiking up the mountain—it takes time, effort, and patience to get to the peak. You may be tempted to give up during the process, but when you finally get to the top and witness the beauty of the sunrise, you’d be glad you made it through the whole process.
It is of course nice to have money to splurge on finer things all the time. But financial freedom is not only about the numbers and fancy possessions you have. Rather, it is about living your life to the fullest.
What Is Financial Freedom?
You would probably have gotten a rough idea of what financial freedom means after going through the introduction.
But to make sure we’re really on the same page, I’ll give a brief definition of financial freedom.
So, what is financial freedom?
Basically, financial freedom means being able to make life decisions without having to worry about the financial impact because you are financially stable and independent of others.
In other words, rather than having to live a life controlled by money and finances, you are the one in charge.
Financial Freedom Is Not Just Any Numbers
Many people ask about how much one needs to have to achieve financial freedom.
While the digital age and social media did grant us the binoculars to see many more parts of the world, what we usually see is only as much as a pretty cover without a backstory.
With people sharing curated information about their lifestyle, it is easy to get the idea that achieving financial freedom means having a big house, luxurious cars, and an Instagram profile filled with travel pictures.
True that pictures can indeed speak a thousand words, but a thousand words don’t always mean the whole story.
Because financial freedom is literally less about the material things you have and more about living your life to the fullest. A life that you designed for yourself that makes you truly happy and stress-free.
Perhaps you may think living life to the fullest means having more fancy possessions and material things.
Yes, it may be true for you if those are the things you need to help make your life easier and meaningful.
But if getting those things is just a means to show a pretty cover while you struggle to deal with a spiral of debts, you will need to keep in mind that those possessions are just temporary pleasures.
Financial freedom is all about living your life to the fullest by fulfilling your desires without leaving trails for debts to catch up.
To me, living life to the fullest means a few things:
- Free of stress and worry about not having enough money to survive and pay bills.
- The freedom to choose what, how, and when to work.
- Being able to support my family and spend more time together with them without having to stress about chasing after those paychecks.
- Being able to satisfy my hobby, help others, and start a passion project.
- Owning a decent, comfortable home.
- Being able to travel without racking up credit card debts to pay for it.
Just to let you know, living life to the fullest doesn’t mean the same for everyone.
While I prioritize owning a decent, cozy home and less on traveling, I have a friend who prioritizes traveling for the experience and wouldn’t mind about the type of home to own.
But ultimately, we’re both on the same page about keeping our net worths positive while fulfilling those desires and not getting ourselves into hopeless debts that cloud our mind with stress and anxiety day and night.
So regardless of your reasoning, financial freedom is about satisfying your desires in life while keeping your net worth positive.
Financial Freedom: Tips On How To Achieve It
When you are financially free, you have a lot more options to add to your life. You don’t have to worry about whether your bank account can cover your grocery and utility bills, unexpected bills, etc.
While I’m still at a point that’s far from reaching financial freedom, I was fortunate to have come from a family that has taught me a lot about managing my finances well and avoiding hopeless debts that often lie await for inexperienced youths.
Thanks to that, I did manage to get a good financial head start by skipping the loans that I wouldn’t have been able to afford but would get it anyway just to satisfy my gratifications (and regret later)
My parents have been able to live a decent life while bringing up four children who were never deprived of needs, including financial support for tertiary education.
But they were able to do it not because they had a high income. Rather, they learned to manage their finances well.
No, none of my family members own a degree in finance or accounting. But they are indeed competent in managing their finances because they learned how to do it through experience and knowledge.
You don’t need to be an expert to make the right money moves. All it takes is your willingness to learn and the right mindset that you too, can achieve financial freedom.
Here are some of the tips to financial freedom that have helped my parents, and now me and you to live the best life.
1. Take responsibility and learn from your mistakes
There’s no doubt you will have some points in your life sweeping all your worries under the carpet.
We all do.
But brushing off things always comes with consequences. As for money matters, the consequences are always expensive.
If you really want to change your future for the better. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t mean a thing besides giving you a dark vision and future.
It doesn’t matter if you make financial mistakes. Everyone does.
But not everyone is willing to take responsibility over their mistakes and learn from them which sets people apart from those who are successful and those who are not.
2. Learn How To Manage Your Money
Personal finance involves many things. But at the end of the day, it boils down to 3 things: make money, manage money, and multiply money.
While all are important, managing money plays a big part in financial health.
So if you don’t understand where your money goes and how to control your spendings, achieving financial freedom will be next to impossible.
Most people are letting money control them instead which can make them chase after their paycheck all their life.
Learn to take charge and don’t be afraid to face those numbers.
- Track your net worth every 6 months to check your financial progress. A positive number indicates healthy finance. If it’s a negative number, you may want to work on your budget and get it positive.
- Learn to make a budget so you won’t have too much month left at the end of the money.
- Understand where your money goes. You may not realize it but tracking your expenses can help you curb unnecessary spending habits and keeping more money in your pockets.
3. Set Financial Goals
While knowing how to manage your money is important, keeping at it for the long term can be challenging.
One way to keep yourself motivated to save money is to set financial goals. Otherwise, what are you actually trying to achieve by saving money?
Your financial goals should be clear, defined, and realistic. Simply wanting to achieve financial freedom or becoming rich is not enough.
Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up from there. If this is your first time setting a financial goal and are not sure where to start, try asking yourself—what do I want to achieve:
- In the next 3 months?
- Next year?
- In the next 5 years?
When you have a clear financial goal, write it down and place it somewhere you can see every day.
Once you have hit one of your goals, set a new one, and keep going. It will be great to look back later at how much you have achieved.
4. Pay Yourself First
One general rule of thumb when it comes to achieving financial freedom is to pay yourself first as soon as you get your paycheck.
If you look at other posts on my blog or any other personal finance blogs, you’ll see this phrase often because it is just so important when it comes to building wealth and achieving financial freedom.
What happens if you don’t put paying yourself first in your budget is that generally, the first instinct most people have when they get their paycheck is to pay off their bills on time.
Next, you have groceries and gas to deal with. And with the remaining money, you might want to reward yourself with entertainment or get some household stuff.
And then the numbers in your savings and retirement accounts remain static as you have no money left to contribute.
So what you should be doing is to prioritize paying yourself first and stick to that long term.
5. See Money As An Opportunity Cost.
Money is a tool that can help us achieve what we want in life. But people often mistake their true desire and happiness for instant gratification and temporary pleasure.
We should see money as opportunity costs. This means that when we spend on one thing, it’s the money that we cannot spend on something else, neither right now nor anytime later.
For example, a $5 bill could be spent for a bus fare, a part of your lunch, a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or a book.
When you consider the many things that money can actually get you before you spend it, you would be able to make better financial decisions rather than spending impulsively.
6. Living Below Your Means
Another rule of thumb when it comes to achieving financial freedom is to live below your means.
Because that is the only way you will have enough to pay yourself first and cover your necessary expenses.
Although it seems easy to understand, many fail to put it to action, and remains the main reason why people are broke.
Because society tends to see each other through a judging lens, we’re tempted to keep up with the Joneses which often puts a strain on our financial health.
Don’t compare yourself with others or try to keep up with their lifestyle based on what you see about them in real-time.
Because you won’t know about their financial status or what they have gone through to achieve those things.
But what you do know is your own financial status and the things you can afford. And if you work on a plan, then you too will surely achieve your goals.
7. Be A Learner
My all-time favorite quote. Nobody was born to know everything but our brain was designed in a way we could store new information and be creative about how we can apply that knowledge to our benefits.
This applies also to achieving financial freedom. Read personal finance books or blogs because you will be surprised at how much insights you could get from reading them. Those new nuggets of information will help you see things from a different perspective and assist you on your journey to financial freedom.
Being financially free or independent is not just simply achieving any numbers in your saving accounts or net worth. It means being able to live your life to the fullest—getting your desires fulfilled without having to stress about money or getting yourself into a spiral of debts.
Achieving financial freedom is not something you can do overnight or in a short term. It requires time, consistency, and effort. Sure you may win the lottery or inherit a fortune. But that is a luxury that not everyone has.
You could shorten the time frame to achieving financial freedom by saving and investing aggressively. But if you think of achieving it quickly and effortlessly, you probably have the wrong mindset and that could, in turn, increase your risk of losing your money and even lengthen the process.
So what you can do now is to determine the reason why you want to achieve financial freedom and work on a plan and take action. As you gain momentum, you will realize that the journey doesn’t really take that much effort after all.
So instead of asking others how much you will need to achieve financial freedom, first ask yourself, what are your desires in life and what are you planning to achieve. Then ask how much will you need to achieve those things—that will then be how much you will need to have to achieve financial freedom.
Your turn—what does financial freedom mean to you and what are the steps you’re taking to achieve it?