What is financial freedom?
If you’re thinking “being wealthy” or “becoming financially independent,” I disagree with you. I know many wealthy, financially independent people who are anything but financially free. For them, money and wealth are a ball and chain, a never-sleeping slave master that makes them do its bidding.
Financial freedom is not a destination. It’s not a “one day” kind of thing. Financial freedom is something you can (and I say should) experience now.
And financial freedom is not freedom from work. That would imply work is a bad thing, which I don’t believe it is. To be sure, there are some jobs that aren’t exactly a trip to Disney World and a few that can be downright toxic. But moving from a negative work situation to a non-existent work experience is rarely productive. It can relieve tension temporarily, but it often has a longer-term downside.
So, if financial freedom isn’t being rich, or being retired, what is it?
Freedom from want. It’s hard to feel financially free if you’re homeless and hungry. So, we’ve got to have our basic needs met. And for most of us, that means having a job. But it also implies that you find a certain level of fulfillment in your work. You can see its value to yourself and to others. You feel good about what you do and the value you are creating for others. You’re not wasting your life and your time for a trivial pursuit.
Freedom from worry. What if you were able to remove those aspects of your financial life that keep you up at night? Things like debt, overspending, lack of savings, volatile investments, financial vulnerability to adverse life events and the lack of any real prospects for retirement one day.
Remove all that and you’ll be able to worry less.
Freedom from wondering. I was talking to a landscaper recently and I confessed to him how little horticultural knowledge I have. I used a phrase clients have often used with me when it comes to money. “I don’t know what I don’t know.”
A comprehensive financial plan that addresses all aspects of your life and money can help you remove that feeling of not knowing. You know the broad outlines of where you are now and the direction you’re headed. And you’re confident that if you stick to the plan, you’ll get there on time.
Freedom from wandering. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” so says the Cheshire Cat to Alice in Wonderland.
Without a plan, most people tend to wander…to meander…financially. One day they love the stock market, until they hate it when it goes down. The next day they love real estate (“because I can touch it!), until they hate it because renters are so unreliable. Then they are born-again debt eliminators…until they decide Bitcoin is the next elevator to wealth heaven and they buy a bunch of that.
The person addicted to checking out every new financial fad that comes along is not free. A plan frees you from that necessity to keep pulling up the roses every few weeks to see how they are growing.
Freedom to win…at life.
Worrying less leaves more room in your life to live more. But just because you have room to live more doesn’t mean you will. You’ve got to be intentional with your life.
Your money and your life both require a plan. And the freedom the results from the plan doesn’t come at the end of the journey – it comes at the beginning!
It is a state of mind and heart you experience when you begin the journey.
The key to being financially free is to begin.
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