Your financial choices do not stand in isolation. They have a cumulative effect. As you pay off debt, as you save for retirement, as you reduce your spending, you are creating a snowball of right action.
Or, to use a better metaphor, each smart choice you make creates ripples throughout your life. As you work toward financial freedom, you make it easier for yourself to accomplish other goals.
With the help of my Twitter followers, I've drafted a list of several ways that financial freedom makes it easier to accomplish other goals. Financial freedom means:
- Freedom to choose your work. “Financial Freedom means choosing a job or career I want to work at,” tweets @squawkfox. “I don't need money to be the sole deciding factor.” I think this is huge. For sixteen years, I worked at a job I hated: I sold boxes for the family business. I couldn't leave because I felt trapped by debt. Once I repaid my debt, I could consider other opportunities — like becoming a professional blogger.
- Freedom to live where you want. Do you like where you live? Would you rather live elsewhere? New York? South Dakota? Rome? There are other considerations than money, of course, but when you are financially secure, you're better suited to practice “geographic arbitrage”, to explore location-independent living. In other words, if you have the money, you can live where you damn well please.
- Freedom to do what you want. Wealth doesn't just open doors with work and housing. It also gives you freedom with your time. On Twitter, @MillionMommyND writes, “For me, financial freedom = The freedom to choose how I spend my time: wake when rested, play when playful, work when/if I want.” My friend Sparky had financial freedom, if only for a little while, and it let him travel the world.
- Freedom to seize opportunities. On Friday, I met Tsilli, a long-time GRS reader. She explained how being out of debt and financially secure allowed her to refinance her mortgage when the opportunity came along. She was financially prepared, so she could act. My friend Rhonda practices what she calls “predatory shopping”. She can afford to delay purchases until she finds what she wants at rock-bottom prices. On Twitter, @healthymcm suggests, “Financial freedom means no worry about paying everyday bills. Means able to give back, able to invest when opportunities arise.”
- Freedom from worry. Most of all, financial freedom means freedom from worry. When you've eliminated debt, when you have money in the bank, you can sleep more soundly. As @crowgirl tweeted: “Financial freedom means freedom from worry to me. It means knowing I've done the best I can to spend and save wisely.”
I think @MoneyEnergy provided the best summary of financial freedom: “For me, it means never having to work to further someone else's goals instead of my own. It means options and more opportunities.” Financial freedom means options and opportunities. I like that. I believe it's true. Debt is slavery because it limits your options and prevents you from seizing opportunities. But financial freedom allows you to pursue your own goals, to build the life you've dreamed of.
What does financial freedom mean to you? Have you reached it yet? Do you have a plan to do so? Or do you think the notion of “financial freedom” is just a marketing ploy?