The Fourth of July is coming up—my favorite holiday of the year! We like to spend the day eating watermelon, slurping snow cones, playing in bouncy houses, listening to music, and watching fireworks explode over Lake Junaluska. This holiday truly is about our country’s independence, so let’s talk about what financial independence or freedom looks like. I decided to interview a few people and learn what it means to them.
I started with my co-workers:
- Natalie: “Total financial freedom, to me, means being debt-free and being able to live sustainably off of my own land and resources.”
- Dave: “Financial freedom, to me, would mean not having to work for money, but doing what I enjoy every day, whether it is working, relaxing, or playing.”
- Linnea: “Three words come to mind in terms of what ‘financial freedom’ means to me – control, knowledge, and resources. Having the ability to be in control of my financial status, whatever it may be, through access to the appropriate knowledge and resources, and understanding how to most effectively utilize them.”
- Scott: “Being able to make significant life decisions without thinking first about the financial implications of any change.”
- Rachel: “Not having to rely on anyone but myself!”
Then I decided this group might be somewhat biased—they should have their financial ducks in a row, right?
So, I went outside to those not connected to the financial services industry to get some different perspectives.
- Kathy (retiree): “Financial freedom allows me to maintain my independence to live a physically, socially and mentally active life well into my senior years.”
- Amber (college student with young daughter): “Financial freedom to me means living debt free and not having to struggle when everyday financial situations arise.”
- Nathan (working man with young family): “Financial freedom is about meeting our family’s needs, having enough to help others, and still include some fun.”
As you can see, financial freedom can mean just about anything, and its meaning differs based on your stage of life, current financial situation, and many other factors.
Now, consider what financial freedom means to you, and start putting some goals into place that will move you in the right direction. Remember that financial goals need to be S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here is an example:
- In three years, I’ll need to replace my car. I plan to spend $28,000 and will save enough for a $10,000 down payment. I will finance $18,000 for five years with a 5% interest rate, which will result in a payment of $339.00 per month. In order to save $10,000 over the next thirty-six months, I need to set aside $278 per month.
Many of us are probably guilty of taking our freedom for granted much of the time; I certainly am. As you celebrate the Fourth this year, take advantage of the chance to create more financial freedom for yourself as well.
Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James, and are subject to change without notice. Examples are offered only as a hypothetical illustration.
 For good information on S.M.A.R.T. goals, check out this source: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm.