What is Financial Freedom for You?
By Steve Gillman
The idea of financial freedom can mean entirely different
things to different people. Some consider it to be having enough
money to do what they want. For some it is having enough income
from investments to be free of any financial concerns for the
In reality, not many people can actually be unconcerned about
financial matters - no matter how much they have. In fact, it
is common to get more worried about finances as we get richer.
As for doing what they want, few will do everything they would
like to do no matter how much money they make or have. Health
and time can limit us as much as a lack of money after all. Still,
money certainly can buy more security and more freedom, to the
extent that those things are possible, so lets look at how we
can actually use money more effectively to achieve financial
freedom - whatever that means to you.
The "making money" part of the equation isn't covered
here. There are a thousand good books on that. But since money
does not bring freedom automatically, the following ideas address
some of the problems we run into once we start making more, and
what we can do to increase the odds of money actually increasing
We seek greater security for the obvious reasons (to pay the
bills, get medical care when needed, etc) as well as to simply
feel more secure and safe. Creating streams of investment income
helps. If you have enough income you are free from needing a
job, and if it is from enough sources you can be relatively sure
that you won't lose all that income at once. But this is only
true if your lifestyle remains within the means of your income
- or below it.
A common problem here is that we often grow our lifestyles
along with our rising incomes - and this makes sense if you were
eating cheap noodles and driving rusty old cars previously. The
problem resolves itself in time if income rises faster than the
new expenses you take on. Of course, it's a lot easier to escape
the "rat race" and relax with your investment income
if your expenses are lower, so watch your changing habits as
your income and wealth grow.
You may discover that there is no natural level of comfort
where you are content, and that you just continue to "need"
more as you make more. It's a common problem, and one that requires
some self-reflection and self-work rather than just making more
income. Incredible as it seems, we know that even millionaires
go broke feeding their habits, tastes, and the needs of the ego.
Another problem is that you can feel insecure no matter how
much you make. Sometimes having more money makes you more afraid
of losing that income and wealth. The solution to this is not
in money itself, which only buys the little bit of physical security
available to humans. To free yourself from such worries, you
have to look beyond money to better psychological and spiritual
Financial Freedom Means...
Having assets and regular income can buy a lot of freedom
of choice. Used properly you can live how you choose, go where
you like to, help who you want, and buy what you want or need.
"Used properly," is the important part of that statement.
A common problem people have is getting so caught up in the
process of making more money that they forget why they wanted
to make it. Then they often adopt a lifestyle that eats up all
the income which could have paid for their goals if they happened
to remember them. There are certainly people who really do want
that big home and several new cars, but others just fall into
that life as a consolation prize for a dream life they just couldn't
figure out how to achieve despite their increasing income and
For example, to travel the world - if that's what financial
freedom means to you - you have to plan. Perhaps you'll have
to quit your job at some point - and why not? If your employment
is supposed to help you towards your goal, it better not become
an excuse to pass up travel opportunities.
Decide what financial freedom means to you, and start making
plans for that. It may not seem like it, but money alone can
come and go by the millions without offering freedom of any sort
if it isn't used wisely. Rather than just chase it blindly, make
sue it buys what you actually value.