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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 March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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