Financial freedom is a funny thing. How do we know when we’ve reached it? What exactly is it? I think it means something different to nearly everyone, and there are many people out there who would like to know how to get some for themselves.
Not too long ago, I ran into a guy who was talking with someone about making ends meet, paying bills, supporting his family, and all of the familiar lamentations about the cost of living. Although I wasn’t a direct participant in the conversation, my proximity, and the occasional glance my way, told me that I was a welcome listener. Near the end of the conversation, the discussion turned to early retirement and financial freedom. As the man turned to leave, he said, “If you know anyone who knows how to achieve it, just let me know.”
That was my cue. I said, “If you have 30 seconds I’ll tell you one way to do it.” The man immediately stopped, snapped his head to attention, and fixed his gaze on me. That was my second cue. It was now time to explain in 30 seconds how to achieve financial freedom – to a complete stranger. This is the 30 second explanation that I gave him.
“Start with a professional job, much like what you now have now.
Work hard at learning the trade and how the business is run.
Jump ship with that knowledge and strike out on your own.
When you do, you can offer lower rates, and your overhead will be next to nothing as a “one-zee.” And, your income will likely double, immediately, especially if you take time before leaving the mothership to setup relationships that will allow you to naturally roll into a business of your own.
Build up a big pile of money, watching carefully what you spend, and focusing on saving up a small fortune.
When the time is right, assuming you’re in a place you’d like to stay for a while, pay off the house.
Then, get back to making that big pile of money even larger. Again, watch carefully what you spend because your income is less important than the money you “blow” on useless things.
When you’re completely debt free and have plenty of money in the bank, that’s financial freedom, and with that, you’re free to decide when you’d like to retire.”
He stood there with wide-eyed amazement. I knew that my brief explanation was cogent in his eyes, as I spoke with a tone of experience. I knew the question he was ready to ask, so I saved him the trouble by adding, “That’s how I did it.”
He thought for a while and then asked, “Do you have any children?” I shook my head, and he noted that that was a big difference between us. I added that while I didn’t have children, I had a bankruptcy to pay off to the tune of roughly $100,000 before I started in on the creation of wealth. To be sure, it’s not the same as having children, but then, I was doing this on my own, and he had a life partner to help with the children and perhaps even help bring in additional income.
Keep in mind that this is only one approach to consider. In a future post I’ll explain another approach to achieving financial freedom and living debt free. No matter which of many approaches you might take, doing this requires what all good managers do, they “take the long view.”
And, if you’re wondering what a story like this has to do with a blog dedicated to being debt free, then let me explain. Whether you’re trying to avoid debt, get out of debt, become debt free or achieve financial freedom, you need to employ similar techniques and mindsets; have an important and meaningful objective, create a reasonable plan, implement the plan with tenacity, be your own best cheerleader, ignore the crowd because they’re usually going nowhere fast, hang tough until after you’re well across the finish line, and then get yourself another meaningful objective lined up and do it again.
And, like anything else in this world, there are many paths to take. Only you can decide which one might be right for you.