Advertising
Advertising

5 Reasons to Pursue Financial Independence

5 Reasons to Pursue Financial Independence

    Do you crave a life without financial constraints?

    Too often our ability to make progress towards our passions has been limited by the “rat race.” In the rat race, we work for our employers, the government by paying taxes, and the lenders (ie, of our mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and student loans).

    Advertising

    Usually, our own passions are dead last, relegated to when we can find free time — if they get focused on at all.

    Fortunately, you can have a very different plan. Here are five reasons to pursue financial independence…even if you love your job.

    Financial Independence is Important Because Job Security is an Illusion

    Financial vulnerability often motivates entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs work ridiculous hours, risk their entire life savings, and neglect important relationships for a dream with no promise of success. What sane person would take such risks?

    Advertising

    Well, one thing to note is that regardless of whether you are self-employed, a traditional employee, or a business owner, you are in business for yourself. The primary distinction is who are your customers? For a typical employee, your “customer” is your boss. He or she is the one who is purchasing your services. However, if you own a business, you have many customers (or bosses).

    Accordingly, many entrepreneurs feel it is inherently more risky to have a single boss than having many “bosses.” For example, if you own a thriving business where you can control costs, growth, and marketing, then a whole bunch of customers would have to effectively “fire” you before you were forced out of a “job.” A business owner’s sustenance is no longer determined by single person’s opinion or by shareholders who may not even know his or her name. This is why financial independence is so important to traditional employees: no amount of education or experience can guarantee that even the most talented and faithful workers won’t be unemployed by the end of business tomorrow. If you are an employee, the reality is that you are constantly interviewing for your job.

    Financial Independence is Important Because it Means You Are No Longer Trapped in the “Rat Race”

    Sometimes there is an outright disdain for work nowadays. We marvel at those who retire early. However, I have come to the conclusion that the idea of leaving the “rat race” excites me infinitely more than the idea of retirement. For example, there’s an internal yearning to make a difference that would be very hard to achieve if your idea of retirement is sitting on the couch everyday watching The Bold and the Beautiful. Stephen Covey said that we all want to “live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy.” The right work can help us fulfill such aspirations.

    Advertising

    Rather than eliminating work, I suspect that many people crave eliminating their need of provision clouding every decision that they make, stopping them from chasing their dreams, and robbing them from spending time with the people who matter most. A financially free person possesses insights and goals untainted by concern for sustenance, can pursue opportunities that are generally perceived as risky but high reward, and can control his or her time in ways those stuck working nine-to-five jobs can only dream of.

    Financial Independence is Important Because It Means You Are in an Even Better Position to Help Others

    It was Margaret Thatcher — The Iron Lady — who said that “no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions.” Some people piously say that they just want enough for their families. It’s as if they have outright indignation for anyone who craves more. Ironically, they completely miss how ridiculously selfish they sound.

    If we want to live extraordinarily, then we often have to look beyond our own four walls to see who we can serve. Just because charity starts at the home doesn’t mean it should stop there. One reason it is so important to expand your vision is that it will often be the stimulus prompting others to get involved in your dream. For example, part of the reason Oprah, Rachael Ray, and Dr. Oz are so successful is because they “major” in helping others. It is the problems that you solve for others that serve as the doors to your next promotion. One of the benefits of being financially free is that you are also free to tackle some really complex problems!

    Advertising

    Financial Independence is Important Because it Means Fun is Amplified

    While happiness can’t be bought, fun can. I personally have no problem if someone wants to walk into his dream home or drive his dream vehicle, as long as he has been financially responsible. Recently, billionaire heiress Petra Eclestone purchased the old Aaron Spelling 57,000 square foot mansion for a staggering $85,000,000. In an interview, one reporter asked her response to the many detractors arguing that there were so many better uses for her family’s money. She replied she was extremely active and generous to her chosen charities and felt no responsibility to stop living her life based on what others have to say. One takeaway point was that just because you can have fun with less doesn’t mean you have too. Money is merely a tool. It only amplifies what’s already there, so if you have fun and give with your existing income and assets, just imagine what fun you can have and charitable deeds you can perform if all your financial resources were amplified.

    Financial Independence is Important Because it Increases Your Ability to Structure Work to Suit You

    Of course, choosing or creating the right kind of work is not limited to those who are financially independent. However, the two do appear to be linked. In the Millionaire’s Mind, Thomas Stanley argued that millionaires are more likely to have chosen work that uniquely suits them; the right work serves as a competitive advantage. Being financially independent means that you have more time and resources to explore your skills and abilities, your personality, and your passions and dreams and decide how best to incorporate that into your work; you have all the more opportunity to make sure that you get it right.

    Recently, there has been an explosive increase in people exploring alternative work models, such as freelance work, independent contractors, consulting, distributorships, licensing, etc. Just because one may not be a good fit doesn’t mean that you can’t find or create an authentic fit with another model. Be mindful regarding your work. Not only may your financial independence be determined by this decision but also your sanity!

    Closing Thoughts

    Not only are financial independence and building phenomenal wealth laudable goals, they are also achievable. Consider that when you are inundated with opportunities to forsake your budget for purchases misaligned with your values. Consider that additionally when market volatility and doom pundits make you want to duck and hide rather than invest. Most millionaires consistently invest at least 15% of their incomes, despite alluring sales and tumultuous economic climates. Follow that example when you face difficult financial decisions; choose freedom today.

    (Photo credit: Growing Money via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    5 Reasons to Pursue Financial Independence

    Trending in Money

    1 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 2 25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education 3 How to Develop a Millionaire Mindset in 6 Simple Steps 4 5 Books You Must Read if You Want to Be a Millionaire in Your 20’s 5 20 Better Money Habits to Help You Increase Your Savings

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

    5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

    2. Keep Them Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

    4. Short Term vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

    Advertising

    5. To Each to His Own

    The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

    It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

    By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

    Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

    Advertising

    Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

    Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

    If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

    Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

    All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

    5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

    If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

    If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

    Advertising

    6. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

    Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    7. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

    At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

    8. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

    Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

    It is here where that classification will help.

    Advertising

    So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

    10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding,

    Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

    So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    11. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

    If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

    Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

    As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

    More About Personal Finance Management

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Read Next