Have you ever had an awkward feeling when you are to pay for an unexpected bill, such as repair to electrical equipment such as sudden malfunctioning of your refrigerator or need to repair a car which you didn’t have a plan or budget for. You wonder how are you going to pay for that, where will you source for money. If the repair of the refrigerator or car is an inconvenience, let us think the other way round, instead of worrying of how to pay, you just pay without thinking twice.

Few days later you’ve forgotten that it even happened! That’s how little it affects your financial situation. It’s not an emergency. It’s barely a hiccup!

Do you feel that sense of relief? That’s what financial freedom feels like.

Paying for a car or refrigerator  repair without stress is just a small part of the picture. It’s more than just being able to afford emergencies. It’s knowing you don’t have to worry about retirement because you have invest consistently for decades. It’s the freedom to quit your J-O-B to do something you love, even if means getting paid less.

Financial freedom means that you get to make life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial impact because you are prepared. You control your finances instead of being controlled by them.

The path to financial independence isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy. And financial freedom doesn’t mean that you’re “free” of the responsibility of handling your money well.

Quite the opposite. Having complete control over your finances is the fruit of hard work, sacrifice and time which involves financial intelligence, financial planning and financial discipline. And all of that effort is worth it!

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Ready to learn how to build a life of financial independence for you and your family? Start by defining what financial independence looks like for you.

What Does Financial Freedom Mean to You?

Financial freedom has to be personal. Dream big and get specific about your goal.

What does financial independence look like for you? Maybe it looks something like this:

  • Freedom to go for expensive vacation with your family annually without stress.
  • Freedom to send your children to the best schools in the world without worrying about money
  • Freedom to pay cash for a new ski boat
  • Freedom to respond to the needs of others with outrageous generosity
  • Freedom to retire a whole decade early

When you are financially independent, you have options. You don’t have to wonder if your bank account can handle replacing your hot water heater or buying groceries for a single mom who just lost her job..

That may sound too good to be true, but you can do this! Here’s how to begin your own journey to financial freedom!

Step 1: Learn How to Be In Charge of Your Finances

You won’t get ahead if you don’t have a plan for your money. Instead, you’ll find yourself wondering where your money went at the end of every month! That’s not financial independence; that’s a recipe for financial disaster.

Building wealth is impossible if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Give every dollar a name before the month begins, and track your spending throughout the month. If you consistently overspend or under spend in certain areas, you can always adjust the amount in each category.

Budgeting is important to get your finances on the right track, but it doesn’t end there. Even once you achieve financial freedom, you’ll still complete a unique budget every month. No matter how much money you have, you need a plan.

You won’t get to financial independence on accident. Budgeting is the first step to building wealth on purpose it is a useful and very important tool when it comes to financial planning.

Step 2: Keep Tidy Your Finances

Once you start learning how to be in charge of your finances, you may realize you’ve made some mistakes with your finances in the past. That’s okay! But if you want to be financially independent, you have to clean up the mess before you can start building wealth.

That means if you have debt like credit cards, student loans or car loans, it’s time to get serious about kicking it to the curb.

Why? Because while you owe money, your paychecks have someone else’s name on them. If you want to reach your goal, you need your full income at your disposal, not bits and pieces that are left over after paying credit card bills and student loan payments.

Paying off your debt helps you lay a foundation to build wealth that will last. Make sure you have $1,000 saved before you start tackling your debt. You don’t want an unexpected expense to derail your progress!

Most people feel like they got a raise when they start budgeting, so that’s good news for you. Throw all of that extra at your smallest debt until it’s gone. Then keep the snowball rolling! Paying off debt is hard work, but there’s nothing like the feeling of actually keeping the money you bring in every month!

Once you’re debt free, stay there. For good. Debt most times keep you stalled.Having debt undermines your ability to build wealth and puts your financial plan at risk. It’s simple. Steer clear of debt!

Step 3: Be Smart About Your Career Choice

Your biggest wealth-building tool is your income. So when it comes to choosing a career, there are a lot of things at stake. There’s no reason to stay stuck at a dead-end job, especially if it’s making you miserable. Finding a job that you enjoy that also supports your goals of financial security will help you enjoy the journey.

So what should you look for? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?Start with the end in mind. Does this job make sense with your overall goals?
  • Is there income-earning potential?Even if you’re not making your dream salary from the start, make sure there is opportunity for your income to increase as your value increases.
  • Can you grow?Are there opportunities for you to move up and grow personally and professionally?
  • Do you enjoy the work?Don’t spend a career at a job you hate. Find something you’re passionate about that allows you to use your gifts and skills.
  • Do the benefits support your goals of financial freedom?Your options for retirement savings and health insurance can dramatically affect your ability to build wealth.

Your choice of career can have a big impact on your long-term financial plan, so take it seriously!

Step 4: Create a Strategy for Short-Term Savings

Imagine if you had to pull money out of your 401(k) when your home’s A/C unit needed to be replaced. What if you had to open a credit card to pay for groceries after losing your job? How would you ever get ahead if you kept borrowing money from your future? You wouldn’t.

If your goal is financial freedom, you need a buffer for the unexpected life events that happen to all of us, like car repairs, broken appliances and medical deductibles. That’s why you should increase your emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses once you’re out of debt.

Having the cash on hand to cover an unexpected life event gives you peace of mind and is a critical part of your overall financial plan. Once you have that fully funded savings account, you’ll start to feel more flexibility in your budget. You’ll be able to say yes to shopping splurges and specialty lattes with no guilt at all!

Since you’re not taking on debt, you’ll also need a savings plan for big purchases that aren’t emergencies. Let’s take summer vacation for example. It’s simple! Create a line item in your monthly budget and divide the total amount by the months you have to save. You’re not living in debt anymore, and that means you can enjoy your vacation instead of having a credit card bill follow you home.

With a full emergency fund and a plan to cover big purchases in place, you’ll have the financial foundation to start investing.

Step 5: Learn About Your Investment Options

Now that you have a plan for short-term savings, you’re ready to partner with a financial advisor who can help you make the most of your long-term investment options. The good news is the sooner you start investing, the more time your money has to grow. That’s the power of compound interest at work. Here’s how to get started:

Retirement Savings

Start by working with your financial advisor to take advantage of the tax-favored retirement accounts that are available to you at work, like your 401(k) or 403(b). How much should you invest toward retirement? Shoot for 15% of your income. And if your employer offers a match on contributions to your 401(k), take it! Don’t say no to free money.

College Savings

If you’re already contributing 15% of your income to retirement and you want to start saving for your kid’s college fund, you can start by investing in an Education Savings Account (ESA). Like a Roth IRA, the money you contribute to an ESA grows tax-free, which means you won’t pay taxes on it when it’s used to cover college expenses.

The great thing about saving for your kids’ college is that by helping them avoid student debt, you’re setting them up for financial freedom too!

Real Estate Investments

Your home should be part of your plan for financial freedom, not something holding you back from achieving it. That’s why it’s so important to make wise decisions about the kind of home you purchase and how you choose to finance it. If you buy a home that is a good investment, it will continue to grow in value as the years go by.

Once you’re investing 15% of your income into retirement accounts, you should use any extra money coming in to pay off your house  Attack it with a vengeance! Getting rid of your mortgage is a huge milestone in your journey to financial independence.

Don’t even think about owning rental properties until your house is paid for. And even then, you should only invest in rental properties if you can afford to pay cash for the property and you’re willing to deal with any hassle involved in the rental process.

Step 6: Get Passionate About Your Journey to Financial Independence

Making the right investment decisions is the first step, but staying in tune with your fund performance is crucial to getting the most out of your investments. Setting your investments on autopilot is not an investment strategy.

But the idea of actively making decisions about your investments may feel overwhelming. If it feels that way to you, you’re not alone. According to a Fidelity study of their Net Benefits participants, 77% of Do-It-Yourself investors said they didn’t have the time or investment knowledge to be confident in their investment decisions.(3)

You’ve worked hard to lay the right foundation, so don’t leave this crucial step up to chance! You need the expertise of a financial advisor to help you navigate your investment options and brave the ups and downs of the stock market.

A financial adviser can help you:

  • Make decisions about your investment strategy
  • Rebalance your funds regularly so you minimize your risk
  • Create a realistic plan for what financial independence looks like for you
  • Know what investment options you have beyond retirement accounts
  • Set up a withdrawal plan for your specific situation
Reaching Financial Freedom

Financial freedom is about more than just being able to cover unexpected emergencies—like a refrigerator or  car repair—without breaking a sweat. The fun really starts when you realize you can meet the needs of others. Imagine being able to bless a struggling family by paying for their car repair! It’s not just about you anymore; it’s about leaving a legacy!

If you live like no one else, later you can live and give like no one else. It’s worth all the hard work it takes to get there. You’ve got this and it is achievable!

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