It's been a crazy couple of months for me. Since April, most of my time has been dedicated to selling our condo and buying a new home. Now, at last, the turbulent times are almost over. Kim and I closed on the condo last week, and we'll close on the “country cottage” next Monday. On July 1st, we'll move to the new place and a new chapter of our lives will begin.
As some semblance of normalcy returns to my world, I've been sorting through my Money Boss inbox. I love reading what you folks write to me (even if I don't always respond!), especially when you share your goals and dreams for the future.
Debt is Slavery
For instance, here's part of a message from a woman we'll call Irene. Irene recently experienced an epiphany:
I see my parents, both of them tired and still worrying about the money. I see people in my country, counting days to retirement yet dreading the date like it's some kind of an invisible curse that cuts off their pay by a large margin they now have to live with from month to month, even asking for a federal support to make the ends meet. I see young people whose potential is squandered just because they are slaves to the system they were told about — go to school, finish it, find a job, work your part until retirement, and then, if you're lucky, you have ten to twelve years to enjoy…probably.
I see all that…and I want more out of my life than simply be a part of a rat race we all are invariably losing. I want to be that girl who dared to dream the impossible and then realized it.
I love it! It's email from money bosses like Irene that keeps me motivated to continue doing the work I do.
In this case, Irene's message struck a deeper chord with me. It reminded me of my own struggles with money.
When I was younger, I lived paycheck to paycheck on an average salary. I was deep in debt. I had no savings. I spent every penny I earned. Like many folks in similar circumstances, I felt chained to my job. I felt like I had no options.
“Debt is slavery,” argues Michael Mihalik in his book of the same name. “You drag yourself out of bed and go to work because you have to.” You have a mortgage, a car payment, credit card bills, student loans, and other financial obligations. If you don't go to work, if you don't keep earning money, you risk financial ruin.
Most people believe this is simply how life works. It's the price you pay to live in a modern society. And because most people allow themselves to accept these financial burdens, they're chained to their jobs. They lack freedom. They're unable to take risks.
But most people aren't money bosses. You are.
The Key to Financial Freedom
Because you're a money boss, you recognize that it's up to you to escape the chains of debt. You know that the key to financial freedom can be found through a simple concept: profit margin, the gap between what you earn and what you spend. And the best thing about profit margin is that it buys you freedom both today and tomorrow.
- The greater the gap between your earning and spending, the more freedom you have today. This profit margin gives you power — power to make choices that might otherwise be unavailable to you.
- At the same time, profit gives you greater freedom tomorrow. When you earn more than you spend, you're able to set aside savings. This savings — your accumulated profits — grants you a wider range of options in the future.
The more money you save, the more freedom you have, and the greater risks you can take. As your financial independence increases, you chip away at the wall of worry. You're able to make decisions based on happiness rather than dollars.
Remember my roadmap to financial freedom?
A lot of folks think financial independence is a fixed point. It's not. Financial independence is a process, with different stages along the path to complete freedom. As you reach each stage, it's as if you've gained a key to unlock another chain that has tied you down.
When you reach solvency, for instance, you obtain the key that unbinds you from depending on others for financial support. When you reach stability, you unlock the chains of consumer debt. When you reach agency, you're no longer shackled to your job. And so on.
This is not just theory. This is how money works — not just for me, but for you as well.
My inbox is filled with examples of folks who have managed to shed their financial shackles to one degree or another. For instance, another money boss — let's call her Marie — wrote to say that she's in a precarious position at work. There's conflict, and she's worried about her job. But because she's managed to boost her income while trimming her expenses, she's less worried than she might have been in the past.
This is a terrific real-life example of the security that comes when your work as a money boss comes to fruition. If she were in debt and/or spending exactly what she earned, Marie would feel stuck in a job that's causing her stress. But because she's paid off her debt and has accumulated some savings, the work conflict isn't as scary. She knows that if she leaves her job, she'll be fine for a while. She's bought a degree of freedom.
No matter where you are on the road to financial freedom, I urge you to continue making smart choices. Remember to manage your life like a business. Ruthlessly guard against unnecessary expenses. Boost your income whenever possible. Never forget that your goal is to remove the chains that hold you back, to gain the freedom to do and be who you choose.
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.