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A Guide to Financial Independence

A Guide to Financial Independence

Transitioning from being a carefree college student to a financially responsible person can be a huge shock for young adults. As many young professionals can attest, entry-level positions often come with meager salaries — but even with a small paycheck, saving is still possible.

If you find yourself in need of help when it comes to financial independence, try a few of these tips to implement a smarter savings plan.

1. Write Down Expenses

If you’re a budget newbie like I was, start by writing down all of your expenses and analyzing your spending. Little things like a $4 coffee may not seem like a big deal, but if you do that every single day, you’re spending over $100 a month on coffee. Managing my budget became a lot easier once I saw where I was wasting money. Cutting out the daily lattes and opting instead for a cup brewed at home helped me save around $100 a month. If you struggle to follow a budget, try an app like Mint to help you stay on top of your spending.

2. Apply the 50/20/30 Rule

Now that you know where you’re actually spending your money, figure out where you should be spending your money. I began by implementing the 50/20/30 rule that many budget experts recommend. You’ve probably heard of it, but this rule puts your budget into three simple categories.

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50 Percent: Absolute Necessities

This includes all necessities, such as rent, food, and utility bills like water and electric.

20 Percent: Financial Obligations

I put 20 percent of my salary into my savings account, a 401(k), and toward paying off my student loans. To help stay within this percentage, I negotiated an income-based repayment plan for my student loans, which drastically lowered my monthly payments to a more affordable range.

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30 Percent: Personal Purchases

Everything extra goes into the personal purchases part of my budget. My cellphone and Internet bills are included within this 30 percent. If you are having trouble staying under the 30 percent mark because of increases in your bills, consider going with a cheaper plan. Many people don’t realize that they are actually overpaying for Internet and not even utilizing the high speeds they pay for.

3. Follow the Rent Rule

Housing makes up a significant portion of most budgets. Many financial experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your gross income on your rent or mortgage per month (though that percent seems to be increasing as housing prices continue to increase). Like many young adults, I quickly realized that buying a house straight out of school was not in the cards for me. Though I dreamed of living in my own little home, I followed the “rent rule” and allotted 30 percent of my budget toward rent. Staying within that price range kept me from looking at apartments I couldn’t afford.

4. Consider a Roommate

I wanted my own place when I got out of school. I had spent my entire life living with other people, so why couldn’t I get a place of my own now that I had a reliable paycheck? After looking carefully at my finances, I decided to get a roommate instead — just for a bit. This cut my rent cost significantly, allowing me to save even more money every month to put toward a place of my own. While having a roommate may not be ideal, it is becoming more common for young adults fresh out of college. A few years with a roommate, especially if you’re living in a pricey downtown neighborhood, could allow you to save thousands of dollars that can be put toward the down payment on your first house.

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5. Cut Down on Dining Out

Food is a necessity, but going out to eat can get expensive fast. I would often rationalize eating out by thinking that I could get a cup of soup and a side salad cheaply at a restaurant, which is probably just a bit more than what I would spend on a meal at the grocery store anyway — plus it was so much more convenient! But add a drink and an appetizer, and my bill would always end up being more than what I intended on spending.

I quickly realized that those frequent restaurant meals had to stop if I was going to begin saving effectively. Now, I allow myself one good meal out each week and eat the rest of my meals at home. I also make it a rule to always bring my lunch to work; the only day I go out for lunch is Friday and I give myself a $10 limit. If you find this difficult, set aside an hour every week and plan out your weekly menu or use a meal planning app. Make a grocery list of everything you will need for the week: following a list prevents you from spending extra money on impulse shopping when you get to the grocery store.

6. Make Do with What You Have

After getting out of school, I felt like I had earned the right to buy the newest of everything. I worked hard — didn’t I deserve to treat myself? Unfortunately, spending on big-ticket items like a new car can stop you from saving money and push you further into debt. Although it wasn’t what I really wanted to do, I decided to stick with my old car instead of buying a brand-new vehicle.

Before you make expensive purchases (like that next-generation iPhone when your old one works just fine), ask yourself, “Can I do without this?” It’s tough to go without the things you really want, but saving your money now means you’ll be able to make more important purchases down the road.

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7. Look for Free Events

One of the hardest parts about budgeting is feeling like you don’t have any money left over after paying your rent and utilities, buying groceries, and setting aside some savings. Don’t forget to dedicate some time and resources to having fun and cultivating your hobbies. It’s important to have fun, but your slush fund doesn’t need to be big to be effective. Instead of expensive concerts or sporting events, find out what free events are available in your area. By seeking out these free events, I could make plans with my friends that didn’t involve spending a lot of money.

Although saving can feel impossible, you can get started with a few simple changes to your lifestyle. Take the time to set a budget and analyze your spending habits, and like me, you will find that adjusting to a savings plan is completely manageable, even on an entry-level salary.

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Last Updated on April 28, 2020

9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life

9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life

As technology evolves and information becomes more accessible, it has also become more challenging to define success. A lot of people are trapped in the rat race while trying to discover the actual formula for success.

You could become overwhelmed with what tools, techniques or philosophies to imbibe while trying to get tips over the internet. At every click and turn, there are ‘how-tos and quick-fix’ on how to become successful overnight. You will find several courses, articles, videos and books on how to achieve financial success.

But what if I tell you it doesn’t have to be complicated as people made it out to be? What if you could achieve success by merely following these 9 millionaire success habits?

1. Read for Personal Development

A daily habit I have discovered millionaires share in common is reading. For instance, if you are an entrepreneur, you need to read to become an efficient leader and a productive business owner. Reading helps you to grow and learn without going to a business school.

A research conducted by Thomas Crowley indicates about 85% of self-made millionaires read at least two or more books each month. [1] Warren Buffett is one of these examples. He spends 80% of his day reading. In the early days of his investment career, he would read 600 to 1000 pages in a single day.

While millionaires sometimes read for pleasure, they also learn to improve themselves. They read topics on leadership, how-tos, self-help, biographies, lifehacks and also follow current events.

Here’re some recommendations for you: 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

2. Establish Multiple Sources of Income

Another success habit I noticed about successful people is that they don’t depend on a single income source. Every millionaire possesses multiple sources of income. This helps them to manage economic challenges and also make more money.

They are passive income addicts. They earn interests from loans, rental income from real estate, royalties from intellectual properties, dividends from investments. They also launch a side business or run a website or sell information products.

How income is made either passively or actively is what separates the successful from the wannabes. They are always learning ways to build multiple streams of income.

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3. Live on a Stipulated Monthly Budget

An average millionaire does not believe in luck and jackpot. They take the time to understand cash flow-income and expenses. Based on this, they establish a monthly budget and religiously stick to it.

The essence of the budget is to minimize unnecessary expenses. This will help you gain complete control of your financial life. Budgeting helps you to avoid overspending to achieve your financial goals. Here’re some tips to help you stuck to your budget: 32 Hacks for Sticking to Your Budget

4. Manage and Maximize Money

The most significant education for a millionaire is financial intelligence. Nobody attains financial freedom without gaining financial intelligence. This is the more reason millionaire, regardless of their income, keep their knowledge about tax strategies updated.

They always seek to reduce their tax bills. One approach they employ is by living or incorporating their business in states with no income tax.

Do you know that about 60 companies paid $0 legally in the 2018 tax year? Some of these companies that ‘avoided'(note: not evaded) federal income tax include Chevron, Amazon, Halliburton, General Motors, Delta. Their US income was totaled at $79 billion with an effective tax rate of -5%.

What’s the deal? They got a tax refund.

How do they accomplish these?

An ITEP report indicated that they have the culture of throwing huge sums at tax experts who assist them in discovering creative, as well as convoluted means of paying little tax as much as possible.[2]

5. Avoid Debt

Another habit that separates the millionaires from the rest of the world is how they manage debt.

They don’t live an extravagant lifestyle; instead, they only buy what they need and can pay for. They do not book hotels and flights by using their credit cards to pay for them.

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They are conscious of the interest rates even when they use credits cards or take loans. If possible, they try to pay with cash because of its zero percent interest rate.

6. Set Daily Goals

It does not matter if they are setting up a business, a career, or financial projections; they have the success habit of setting short term goals. They plan daily and weekly goals to generate momentum in achieving their long-term goals.

Ensure you prioritize when setting daily goals. This will help you to achieve the most important to-dos on your list.

Setting priorities will help you to focus on highly rewarding activities. If you desire financial freedom, it is wise to pursue activities that earn you thousands of dollars rather than hundreds of dollars.

7. Don’t Act Rich

The goal is not to act rich but to be productive. Interestingly, Thomas Stanley buttressed in his book that for the most prestige brands of cars, about 86% percent are toys of the non-millionaires. While most believe that people with huge fortunes tend to drive exotic cars, in reality the largest consumers of pricey cars are aspiring millionaires.[3]

According to findings by Experian Automotive Researchers, 61% of individuals who earn $250,000 or more rarely buy luxury brands. Instead, they buy Hondas, Toyotas, and Fords like the rest of the world. The reason is they are not ready to spend money on premium cars that tend to drop in value in a couple of years as it would cost money. Millionaires invest in assets that appreciate.[4]

8. Own or Buy Businesses

In Robert Kiyosaki’s cashflow quadrant, he divided how you earn income into four quadrants. The E and the S quadrants take the left position while the B and the I are on the right side. According to Robert, it is possible to be on all quadrants, but the millionaires are not.[5]

  • E stands for employee – they work for others
  • S stands for self-employed – they work for themselves
  • B stands for a Business owner- employees work for them (500 or more employees)
  • I stand for Investors – Money work for them like Warren Buffet.

Your goal is to move from the left quadrant to the right quadrants where you own big businesses or make money work for you.

It is possible to become financially successful by pursuing what you love. For instance, if you love writing, aspire to be the best seller. Wealth and passion work together.

Check out How to Start a Small Business with Little to No Money for tips.

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9. Avoid Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

A millionaire holds patience as an essential virtue. It takes patience to become successful, not only in finance but in every aspect of life. While it is possible to become financially successful at an early age, most millionaires hit it at age 50. They live a moderate life, invest in their future and retire rich.

Bonus: How to Develop the Millionaire Success Habits?

Having learned these habits, the next question is,

How can I develop the Millionaire Success habits?

Here are six values you will need to develop:

Establish Your Life Vision

You need to be clear about what you want in life to set yourself for a life of success. Your vision has to go beyond becoming a millionaire to understanding why you want to become one. Any great entrepreneur you will ever find has a clear vision and an established mission.

Understanding why you are doing what you do will drive you to become the kind of successful person you want to be.

Make Your Passion a Profession

When your passion becomes your profession, work becomes pleasurable. Loving what you do enables money to flow to you and through you.

So what’s going to be? Wake up every morning by speaking positive words into your work, love what you do, and focus on the work that brings you joy.

Take a look at this article and learn how to make it happen: 5 Steps To Turn Your Passion Into A Career

Focus on Solution

Focusing on the solution means establishing the problem that you or your business address. This will help you focus on the solutions when others are faced with challenges.

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A millionaire has a mindset that is fixed on the solution. He or she knows there’s a way out, and that every problem is an opportunity in disguise.

Improve your problem solving skills with these tips: 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Develop Your Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are an asset that is indispensable if you want to develop a millionaire success habit. The more you hone your leadership skills, the more you will attract leaders who share your values.

Be Growth-Focused

Millionaire entrepreneurs prioritize self-improvement. Here’s how to achieve it:

  • Get a coach. Coaching will impact your life, and you will achieve peak performance in life and business when you have a life coach.
  • Be coachable. It is not enough to have a coach; you must be coachable. Sometimes, you need feedback and counsel to reposition your life and business. A coach has the wisdom and experience to counsel you from a higher perspective. The more you receive feedback and work on yourself, the more you become better at what you do and who you are.

Flip Your Thought Pattern From Acting To Being

It is not enough to have a millionaire success habit, you must also become a person of positive influence. This is how you can become significant. Bill Gates is not only rich; he is changing lives in Africa and different parts of the world.

If you want to become successful, you must first be and think like a successful person. This is how resources you need can flow into your life.

Here’s a final thought from me:

It is not enough to do something to have something; success is about being someone who possesses what is needed to take positive and inspired actions.

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Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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