What does it mean to be financially independent?
Many would consider it to be a state in which you can afford to pay your rent, expenses and have a constant flow of money.
Others would suggest it to be the amount of time you can live off without working, living off the passive income you generate by intelligently managing your money.
For me, being financially independent is both of the above mentioned. Also adding the possibility to move around and live wherever I wish to be at that moment, having enough time to pursue my hobbies and to spend with my family.
How to achieve financial independence?
Many people spend their lives living in a vicious circle of working to survive and spending nearly everything only to repeat everything the next month.
Since very young, we are taught to act in a specific pattern.
We are told to go to school, study hard, memorize information. We don’t actually get taught to think and be individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses.
School gave me some basic knowledge, but it definitely didn’t prepare me for life. Most of the things I know, I learned outside of school.
Our mindset is programmed from early one to follow orders, execute and all in one be a great employee. Not so much an out of the box thinker and creator.
So how do we become financially independent?
We can become financially independent by taking the first step – by learning what we haven’t been taught and what the typical media and commercials are strongly discouraging. By learning to be conscious about the way we handle money.
By avoiding blindly following orders. Or working half a lifetime for someone else’s dream, expecting by the end of it to have enough to make needs ends, retire for the rest of what is left and die happily ever after.
This might seem somewhat dramatic- yet more or less this is how many people live.
I won’t argue with the fact, that people are quite different and might have different desires, expectations and possibilities in life . Living in a first-world country I can count myself extremely lucky to be able to have this debate.
Yet two facts have crystallized over the years:
1. The educational institutions won’t grant me a sufficient education to live a fulfilling life.
2. I can’t rely on the government to receive a good retirement.
It’s all in my hands: my future, my family’s wellbeing, my kids and their futures.
The first step is the change of mindset.
For the start, it is sufficient to simply open your eyes to all the senseless consumption forced upon us by ads, tv, society.
We get raises and earn more money to spend it on stuff that won’t make us happy, just to stand up to the standards and expectations set by other people. Those new brand sunglasses, this new bag although we have around 5 dusting in the closet, or maybe again another night of fiesta to compensate for all the unsatisfying work we do during the week, spending € on overpriced Gin Tonics?
I used to spend money on impulse purchases when I was more stressed, upset or bored. It took me years to finally see the pattern.
Also, whenever I have another urge to buy something, I taught myself to sleep a night over it. Sometimes, you wake up and finally understand, that spending 20 Euros on a new pen just because it’s more fun to write with won’t make my writing better nor the process more enjoyable on a long term. What will is producing quality content and people enjoying what I do. Yet those several spendings of 20 Euros will eventually sum up, making themselves quite some money which I can use much better.
I also realized, that buying expensive gadgets, (useless) home decor items, even clothes which won’t be worn regularly won’t help me live a happier life or to be more satisfied.
I am not saying, that a frugal life without any spending is what we are supposed to be living all the time.
The problem is the number of things we buy, that we don’t actually need, thus not only treating our money irresponsibly but also having a great negative impact on our planet, which, so far, is still the only one we have.
I have to admit, sometimes I still do that subconscious, half automated buying of things I definitely don’t need. With online shopping, it got so much easier after all. But I’m trying.
This is all money, which could be put apart. Yes, we are talking about plain and simple savings here. Savings, which eventually can be invested or used to buy assets, which in return can generate more money.
Assets in the form of properties, shares, crypto if you like or some kind of business or money generating the structure.
Assets which will let us spend more time on things we love, where we love, with whom we love or simply do something good for the world.
You can agree or disagree here with me, but you will need money if you want to do something good and have a big impact, even if you condemn all the capitalism involved.
Maybe this is one thing after all that differentiates the rich from the poor.
They had the chance to learn how to make money work for them earlier on.
Yet it is not too late.
To sum it up shortly, it could look something like this:
Be conscious about your money habits on how you spend. Maybe you will recognize a pattern, especially when you are most stressed, sad or bored. Being conscious about it will help you detect those little triggers easier.
2. Save money
Make a habit of putting a small sum apart, monthly, first thing after your paycheck comes. You can automate that process in any bank, creating a savings account. If you lack the motivation, then think of a goal you really want to achieve: a way of life, a house, frequent travel. Yet, the saved money will be used to buy assets which will, in turn, generate money to buy those things, not the other way round.
3. Stay strong
Refrain from touching that money. Once you break the habit, it will be hard to continue with the same mindset. Apart from that, the feeling of seeing your savings grow can be very rewarding, knowing they are your pass to freedom (of work).
Study, learn, investigate ways to invest money
The economy is changing, there are always new ways to invest, businesses to start. Read as many books on personal finance as you can, learn and try things out. It is fun to do your first small investment and see how it evolves. It is more fun yet if you actually start receiving money back.
There are plenty of books on that topic.
Check out my personal Top 5 Financial Education Books here.
Also, you can find some useful info in my other article, on becoming location independent.
If we would invest half of the energy we do in getting a raise into thinking and educating about finances, life could look so much different for so many of us.
What do you think? I would love to hear your comments