When you think of financial freedom, it may feel like an out-of-reach notion reserved only for society’s elite rich. Due to the concept being highly romanticized in popular media, many people just spend precious time dreaming of it, instead of working to make it a reality!
The good news is that financial freedom isn’t as elusive as you may think. By having control of your finances, you can immediately free yourself of money-related stress. And with some grit and perseverance, you can build the lifestyle you desire! While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving financial freedom, there are certain steps that can help you get there.
1. Define your goals.
How you define financial freedom may be different from how others perceive it. Ask yourself this – how do you envision your financial freedom? Is it living with no financial obligations to other parties? Or maybe you want to spend more time doing things that you enjoy?
You can begin by jotting down what your perception of financial freedom is. Once you have a good idea of what you want to achieve, you can begin by setting short-term financial goals and action plans. By setting these goals, and subsequently achieving them, you are training yourself to become a more financially responsible person. You can then think of more long-term goals to achieve the financial stability that you crave.
2. Live within – or below – your means.
A lot of people aim for a certain lifestyle, even if it means overspending and becoming reliant on debt. These people crave putting up appearances regardless of whether or not they can afford it. And so the next step on your way to financial freedom is to live on a budget – either within your financial capacity or below it.
For some people, budgets can be restrictive and full of “can’t” – can’t do this, can’t afford that… However, budgets are actually liberating! They help you to take control of your spending and allow you to save more money. One of the most popular budgeting techniques is the 50/30/20 rule, where you save 20% of your earnings, spend 50% on necessities such as food and rent, and allocate 30% to your desires such as a new gadget or a night out.
Setting a budget also helps you to identify expenses that you can cut, and those that are absolutely necessary. For instance, you can begin saving on your daily expenses like laundry and putting more towards healthy food.
As your income grows, you will find that you have a lot more funds to spend than a few years ago. You can now opt to increase your savings fund. This means that you begin living below your means while accumulating a higher amount for the ultimate goal of financial freedom.
3. Save for the rainy day.
Aside from setting aside monthly savings, you must also build an emergency fund. Generally, it is recommended to save an amount equivalent to three months of your regular expenses, but you can opt to save up to six months equivalent. This way, if you have to deal with an emergency such as a medical situation or unemployment, you have enough to get by.
Having a “rainy day fund” will also help you overcome financial anxiety, as you know where your money is and how to access it in case of emergencies. And once you have dealt with the situation, you don’t have to start from scratch on your financial freedom journey.
4. Pay off bad debts.
Debts are unavoidable for a lot of people today. Home loans, student loans, personal loans... All these are debts that you may incur over your lifetime. Another way to move toward financial freedom is to prioritize paying off the bad debts and creating a realistic schedule for settling good debts.
Bad debts are typically loans or expenses that you incur that have high-interest rates. They can be difficult to pay off and can put a lot of financial stress on you such as credit card debt. On the other hand, good debts are usually investments that can help you make money in the long run. These include student loans and business loans. With these types of loans, you can actually turn debt into wealth because you are investing in valuable skills and assets to grow your financial stability.
To get rid of your bad debts, begin by making a list of all your debts and their interest rates. Then, create a debt payoff plan, prioritizing debts with high-interest rates. As you pay off each debt, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and be one step closer to financial freedom!
5. Invest in stocks or mutual funds.
Investing in stocks or mutual funds is another way to move towards financial freedom. When you invest in stocks, you are essentially buying a piece of a company that will be worth more in the future. For example, if you want to buy a few Google shares, you are purchasing shares that will be worth more as the company expands.
The same goes for mutual funds. In a mutual fund, you are combining your money with other shareholders and trusting the financial institution to grow the investment for you. Investing in stocks or mutual funds is a long-term strategy, but it can be a very effective way to achieve financial freedom.
The Bottom Line
These tips can help you achieve financial freedom. But keep in mind that one of the best ways to achieve it is by investing in yourself – both physically and mentally. This means taking care of your health, eating right, and exercising regularly. It also entails having the right mindset towards money. After all, you define what your financial freedom goals are!
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