5 Things I'm Doing to Experience Financial Freedom
Financial independence can seem out of reach for most Americans. According to a Gallup poll, only 57% of Americans feel confident in their finances, which is just not enough. An overwhelming number of people still don’t know how much they spend each month and struggle to save and pay off debt.
On the flip side, we live in a country that allows opportunities to invest and build wealth and save enough to stop living paycheck to paycheck. This level of financial independence is something to strive for and celebrate as well.
As a millennial Black woman, I’m not going to ignore the fact that everyone doesn’t have equal access to certain wealth-building opportunities. The wealth gap and wage gap are real, and I really hope these change in my lifetime. However, I’m not going to sit around and wait for my chance to experience financial freedom. I’m working toward it now by doing five specific and key things.
Doing Work I Enjoy That Pays Me Well
Knowing that I’ll spend a significant amount of my adult life working, I decided early on to make sure I prioritize doing work I enjoy and that pays me what I’m worth. In 2016, I started my own content-writing business after growing up with a passion to write and majoring in journalism. I love how I get to choose my own clients and set my own rates so I have more control over how much I make.
Recently, I started a part-time marketing position in my area as well and enjoy the flexible hours. Another way that I’m diversifying my income is by working as a wealth coach part time for a former freelance client. While the work I’m doing is fulfilling, it also allows me to earn enough to meet my needs and pursue different financial goals.
Living a Frugal But Comfortable Lifestyle Within My Means
Living frugally and spending less than I earn is something I swear by. When I was just getting started in my career and paying off a lot of debt, frugality was not optional or a choice for me. I had to budget and learn how to live well on less.
The frugal habits I learned are still helpful today, reminding me that I truly do value a simple, affordable life. I buy used clothes and furniture, cook a lot of meals at home, travel-hack to save money on vacations, and DIY what I can to save.
Building a Large Enough Emergency Fund
The events of the past year have taught us all a lot. In terms of finances, one thing I realized is that I could use a larger emergency fund. According to an AARP study, 53% of Americans in 2019 said they didn’t have an emergency fund.
I had about one month’s worth of expenses saved up before the pandemic. However, I’ve grown that amount now to provide more financial security and help me avoid getting into debt when unexpected expenses arise.
Committing to a Debt-Free Life (Minus My Mortgage)
After graduating from college, I paid off my high-interest car loan and my student loans in about three years. When my husband and I got married, we tackled our joint credit card debt. Now, I prefer to live debt-free minus our mortgage.
Debt can eat into so much of your disposable income. This can make it harder to save and become financially independent. Budgeting and controlling my spending helps keep debt at bay. It’s not always easy and requires saying "no" or “not yet” to certain things. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
Making Wise Investment of My Money and Time
Finally, the lifestyle I’ve created allows me to free up more money and invest in retirement and a real estate venture I want to take on in the next year. Time is another important asset I try to use wisely to help me become financially independent.
I like to educate myself by reading books and taking short courses. While I plan for free time, I also make room in my schedule for extra income opportunities and to continue building my business.
Creating Your Own Path to Financial Independence
Achieving financial independence today is a possibility thanks to the men and women who fought for America’s freedom more than 200 years ago. This also includes those who have been continuing the fight for freedom and equality ever since then. Financial independence means having enough to live, thrive, and have more control over my time without having to owe anyone money or work an unfulfilling job.
Have you defined what financial independence means for you? Developing a plan and taking small but effective steps can help you get closer to reaching this goal.