For many people, financial freedom is the Holy Grail of their financial journey. But what exactly is financial freedom? The concept goes beyond mere wealth, but it means different things to different people. We asked three personal-finance bloggers to describe financial freedom, and the steps you can take to achieve it.
For SVB of The Digerati Life, achieving financial freedom isn’t so much a financial exercise as a mental one. “Money can be a source of stress,” she says. “No matter how much you have, being financially free is about doing away with the stress that money can bring.”
Instead of focusing entirely on how much money you want, SVB believes that financial freedom can be found by “conditioning your mind to live within the limitations of your finances and still being happy.”
SVB has tried a few strategies to get to that point, including meditating on what’s truly important to her, being more flexible about her expectations and continuing to pursue personal and business goals while maintaining balance. “It helps when I remind myself that net worth is just a number, but freedom is in your head.”
Philip Taylor of PTMoney.com has a slightly different take. He believes that financial freedom means being completely free of debt, having enough money saved to cover expenses and having adequate insurance to minimize risk. “It means that I can make daily life decisions without the need to factor in any financial responsibilities,” he says.
Taylor recommends following four steps (in no particular order) to achieve this kind of financial freedom:
- Pay off all your debt.
- Create sources of passive income, such as investments or real estate.
- Save cash to shelter you in the short-term.
- Maintain adequate insurance to protect you where money can’t.
Meg Favreau of WiseBread.com says that financial freedom means having “the freedom to never be stuck” by a bad situation, like a car accident, medical emergency or sudden job loss. “What makes those situations even worse is being in a constant state of worry about finances when you should be focusing on more important things like caring for yourself or others.”
Favreau recommends building an emergency fund, starting with $1,000 and moving up to having three to six months of living expenses saved. She also recommends having a secondary savings fund to give you more flexibility. “This is money for lesser emergencies that still make you feel stuck — things like wanting to quit a job that makes you cry, or getting out of town for a long weekend when you’re going stir-crazy.”
While financial freedom means different things to different people, the fundamental ways to achieve it are basically the same — have a plan, master the art of saving money and, most importantly, identify what freedom means to you so you can start taking steps to achieve your goal.
What does financial freedom mean to you? What steps have you taken to achieve it?