Let Freedom Ring! When you hear that phrase, what is the first thing you think of? I would bet that the majority of you would say that it's about America and the fact that we are a free society and always want to be one. I think of that too but I also think of a lot of other freedoms.
From the time Hubby and I got married we strived for freedom. Freedom from debt, freedom from work and controlling bosses, and the freedom to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted.
Let's talk about the first one, freedom from debt. Can you truly be free when you have debt? Are you free to use your own money in the manner you see fit? Are you free from the worry of making those debt payments and interest payments each month? Of course, not because you owe your money to other people or companies who you are getting rich off of you. You don't have that money to save and invest for your future and make money off of it for yourself. The interest rates charged on credit cards is atrocious. Banks and companies raise those rates and they don't care if you have gotten a raise or not. Any debt ends up costing you more than you borrowed whether it be credit card debt, school loans, car loans, personal loans, or mortgage or home equity debt. They can cost you thousands of dollars of interest over the life of the loan. Money that could have been going into your pocket.
Now I am not saying that you should never take out a mortgage to buy a home, or a loan to go to college, or buy a car. But I am a huge believer that you don't need to have credit card debt. If you can't afford to pay for something in 30 days, do you really NEED the item? Will you remember that dinner out by the time the bill comes or that junk from Walmart that you really didn't need? This can apply to almost any purchase. Too many people use their credit cards like their personal bank account. Then they are shocked when the bill just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Then some of them get into real trouble. They take out a home equity loan to pay off the credit cards and then they start charging again. It becomes a vicious cycle.
If you have credit card debt, pay it off first. Then pay either the personal loan, home equity, mortgage or college loans off in the order of the highest interest to the lowest. You may have a huge amount of debt when you add it all up and think you will never get out from under it. But you will. Remember it probably took you a long time to accumulate all of that debt, so it will take a long time to pay it off. But by doing that it will give you the freedom to build your investments and let them make money for you and your family.
I am not saying to throw all of your money towards your debt so that you never have any fun. But you can live a lifestyle that doesn't cost you a lot of money and pay that debt down quickly. Budget some money every month for fun. Perhaps $50. to $100. a month but don't forget too that most every town or city has some free things to do that don't cost money.
While you are paying off your debt, you should also be building up a 3-6 month emergency fund. That way if the washing machine, furnace or oven dies or needs major repairs, you will have the cash and not have to charge it and start the vicious cycle all over again.
The main reason that Hubby and I saved and invested our money from the beginning of our marriage is because we set goals. We wanted a home and children and we knew that both would be expensive. We wanted to have Hubby get his B.S. and Masters Degree. We wanted our children to get a good college education. And even when we were under 20 years old, we knew that we wanted to retire early to do the things that we wanted to do. Not spend our days toiling away at the office for 7- 8 hours a day until we reached the age of 65. Back in the 1960's that is how everyone did it. We did not want to be "everyone" any more than we wanted to be "The Joneses". We knew all of this would take a lot of money. So we started building our portfolio the first week of our marriage and still continue.
Most importantly, a few of the years that I worked and a number of years that Hubby worked, work wasn't enjoyable any more. After a while, you sometimes end up with micro - managing by your boss. If that has ever happened to you, you know that it is the worst. I worked for 9+ years while my children were in private junior high and high school and part of their college years. The last job of three that I had lasted 6+ years. I loved this job until our manager retired and a new one came in. He was horrid. He micro managed everything and everybody. I hung in there for 3 years until the day I had had enough. He informed every one of us in the office that we had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. But the best part was that we were told we had to call our other office that was 300 miles away to get that permission each time. Well, I was not going back to kindergarten and putting my hand up to go to the bathroom and I let his boss know that. That rule got thrown out pretty darn quick. But that was the day I realized that I no longer wanted to work for him. So I went home and discussed it with Hubby and then thought about it for a couple of weeks. Then I went in to work and gave my 2 weeks notice and believe me I let them know in writing why I was leaving.
Could I have done that if we had outstanding debt and no money to pay for the last two years of my youngest son's private college tuition? Probably not. But because Hubby and I built up our nest egg to a huge portfolio over the years, I had that freedom. The freedom to tell the boss where to go! Let me tell you that was the best feeling in the world. A few years after that Hubby decided we were now totally financially free. So he retired.
Hubby was smart with his job choices. He was able to earn a small pension from his last job. But if that pension and/or our Social Security were to be gone, we would still live a great life because of our portfolio. We will never have to work again.
We wake up without an alarm clock (most days) and do what we want. We don't have to jump in the car every day and commute to work. We can have fun, go to restaurants, and travel anytime we want without worrying about money. If the car needs replacing or the house needs a new furnace, we don't have to worry. We can pay cash. We can afford to pay for help as we age. We have had that freedom for almost 15 years now and it feels glorious. But we don't throw our money away on things that aren't important to us. That is just something that we have never done. And I believe that that is the reason why we have such freedom today. The freedom to make choices.
If you would like to see how long it will take you to be financially free, feel free to use this calculator:
It is a demo, so just replace their numbers with your numbers and hit crunch the numbers. To make it work for you, don't plug in your annual salary without first deducting your Federal and State taxes, Medicare and Social Security taxes that come out every paycheck. Work with your net annual salary. Then plug in how much money you save or invest every year. Next plug in the amount of your current annual expenses. The savings and expenses should add up to your annual net salary. Lastly put in the size of your investment portfolio that you have now. Hit crunch the numbers and you will get a chart that will show you how many years you have left to work to be financially free. Because this is a demo, I can't guarantee how long this will be out there so play with it now. Put different amounts of savings in and you will see that how much you save makes a big difference. The more you save every year, the quicker you will reach financial independence and have the freedom to do what you want.
Sorry if this is long but I thought I would make up for the two days that I was under the weather. I am feeling much better now.