For me financial freedom is the following:
- The ability to live a debt free lifestyle
- Ability to travel and spend time with family and friends
- Living on a budget that easily fulfills my needs and my realistic wants
- No stress about paying bills, being able to pay for emergencies and affording basic luxuries
- Knowing I have plenty of money for my future retirement.
Notice, my vision of financial freedom isn’t actually retirement. I like working and will hopefully never quit entirely.
However, what I do want is the flexibility and freedom to live my life on my terms, not my employers, the banks or anyone else I owe money too.
This list will look different for everyone.
I know it sounds hokey, but before you read the rest of this post, take out a piece of paper and write down your vision of what financial freedom means to you.
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Did you really do it?
Now that you’ve got your vision in place, you need to figure out the basic steps you’ll need to make in your personal finance journey to make your vision happen.
For me, financial freedom means I have accomplished the following:
- I’ve paid off all debt (including my home)
- I’ve got a fully stocked emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses set aside)
- Aaron and I are both employed at jobs we love
- On a monthly basis, I’m able to fund my retirement & college educational plans.
To actually reach these milestones, I’ve had to set specific goals that I work towards on a weekly, monthly and annual basis.
As you guys know, when Aaron and I got married 7 years ago we found ourselves in deep, deep debt – $446,000 worth of debt. Two years ago we paid off the last of our consumer debt and started working on our home. As of my last house statement we owe just under $128,000.
So in almost 7 years, we paid off $318,000 in debt.
We’ve worked hard and sacrificed a lot to accomplish this goal.
We do have a fully funded emergency fund. We both love our jobs and I’m able to contribute to our retirement and college funds on a monthly basis. Our home will be paid off in a few years.
We are on our way to my definition of financial freedom.
Does this mean that all of our financial issues are solved? No!
What it means is that the day to day financial pressure I used to feel is gone. I don’t have to carry around the weight of that debt on my shoulders every day.
We haven’t achieved total financial freedom, but I feel like we are making all the right moves to get there.
I don’t know when that someday will be and honestly am not sure there is a specific amount of money or date that will tell me I’ve crossed the finish line.
What I do know is that financial freedom means different things at different points in our lives. I can guarantee my vision of financial freedom will be completely different in 10 years.
For now, I’m really, really happy to be making progress, moving towards my goals and finally feeling like I’m accomplishing something real and meaningful.
What Financial Freedom Really Means:
What I’m trying to explain, in my not so eloquent way, is that financial freedom is partially a state of mind. Financial freedom doesn’t just happen when you become a millionaire or are completely debt free.
Financial freedom comes through our day to day actions that put you in control of your money instead of your money controlling you. Don’t get so caught up in your big goals that you forget about the little incremental improvements you are making each day.
If some days all you manage is to save an extra dollar, that is okay. Next week, you’ll do better. Set your goals, work towards them and don’t get so caught up in perfection that you forget to appreciate how far you have come.