Master the art of understanding the yes and no equation and you will be liberated in so many ways. Time and money are limited resources. That means you have to stay disciplined in knowing that every time you say yes to something, what are you choosing to say no to? Think about arriving at financial freedom without ever mentioning again cash flow and budgets. (But if you actually wanted that kind of detail, click on the hyperlinks and you won't be disappointed!)
We all have a different idea of it. For some burdened with debt, it's being debt free, others plagued by high expenses may think a more simplified life might bring financial freedom. If you are close to retirement, perhaps it means you can finally let go of that job and live your life doing the things that make you most happy. Are you in between – wishing you could be in a meaningful job even if it means not getting paid as much? You can get here, but it takes work. Financial Freedom to me means my work is optional. Work part time to supplement your income, work at a lower paid job because you enjoy it...there are many different ways this can take shape for you.
Achieving financial freedom is a continuous process, constantly measuring how you spend your money and how you save it. It's about ridding yourself from financial burdens leaving you free to do the things that mean the most. Clearly define what money matters make you unhappy, worried, and stressed. What events occurred to lead you into these burdens in the first place; and how can you avoid these patterns in the future? Visualize what life would be like if you were able to relieve yourself from these burdens. Over time, saying no to negative spending patterns that get you into these burdens will eventually free you up, so that you begin to say yes again to things that matter most.
A simple example of this is a person who loves to travel, but never finds the time or money to be able to enjoy it. Their time is plagues by housekeeping chores on the weekend and their money tied up to a house that needs constant upkeep. If you truly value travel, get rid of the big house and the big mortgage and the weekend work of keeping your house up, because it's tying you down from what you really want to do. Downsize your home, and be comfortable with the freedom of travel you obtain from not needing to fix up your house. Spending less money on the house, frees you to save more. Consider doing an Airbnb option renting out your house when you take long trips. Replace the duplicated expenses of travel and keeping up your home by bringing in income on your house while you are out. There are many ways to get creative in order to supplement your income, save more, and prepare for a work optional lifestyle.
The home idea is a big one – and maybe you're not ready to downsize. Perhaps you live in a booming city and the equity you are building is helping your future. Do you prefer to work harder now, save more and retire at a younger age? Do you have health issues that may hold you back from a long working career? Perhaps you'd like to rid yourself of the long hours at work now because you're worried about health. Prioritize your goals and decide what your vision of financial freedom should look like now, 5 years from now, and beyond. The sooner you create that vision the sooner you can start itemizing your expenses into yes and no columns to get you on track to a freer lifestyle.
Every time you spend money on discretionary items get in the habit of understanding this yes, means there is a future no to something else; what is it? Create boundaries for yourself and make it okay to say no more often so every yes brings you that much closer to financial independence. There will also come a time in life where you no longer wish to work at all, or can't due to illness. Make sure you always keep a "yes" column for retirement savings and consistently save money in this bucket to support the future you as well.
This exercise may be daunting at first. Once you get the hang of it, it will empower you. The key question is can you do it alone, or do you need someone to help keep you accountable. For those needing help TechGirl Financial is standing by to help you.