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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).

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    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?

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    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.

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    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!

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    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)

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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