How I became financially free
If I can do this, you can, too -- even if you have a modest income and/or currently find yourself buried under a mountain of debt.
This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.
Fortunately, I'm currently in that coveted sweet spot where I can do pretty much whatever the heck I please, whenever I want.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not in a position to buy whatever I want, but I am able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities in life that are typically out of reach for the financially undisciplined crowd. So, financially speaking, I'm in a pretty good place right now.
Flexibility is a powerful perk
If I want to drop everything right now and take a spur-of-the-moment vacation, or visit some friends on the other side of the country, I can do it. True, I won't be flying first class or staying in five-star hotels, but I can do it in a financially reasonable manner, knowing that the bills will be paid in full shortly after they arrive in the mailbox.
Many of you know that not too long ago I made the biggest impulse purchase of my life, shelling out almost $2,500 -- from a "mad money" savings account I have -- on a couple of tickets to see my hockey team play a Stanley Cup Final game.
I'm also fortunate right now to be in a position to handle unanticipated financial surprises -- like when I got blindsided with a dentist bill earlier this year for $3,332 to cover the cost of, among other things, having my son's impacted wisdom teeth removed. And while that really smarted at the time, I was thankful to be able to pay the entire bill without having to take out a loan because I had a rainy-day fund to handle unexpected expenses. (Post continues below.)
The quest for financial freedom
Although a lot of folks would disagree with me, I'm not rich -- but I am financially free. It's important to understand that the two are not synonymous.
Believe it or not, financial freedom can be achieved no matter how much money you earn. All it takes is a lot of discipline, a little patience, and a strong commitment to spend less than you earn, which is why I constantly preach that financial freedom is a state of mind as much as it's a state of being.
So how did I get to this point? Well, there are two big reasons:
- I've always lived well below my means. Always.
- I've kept my debt to a minimum.
That's not to say all debt is bad; it's not. Even so, the only outstanding debt I've had on the books for the past eight years or so is a very manageable monthly mortgage payment. For as long as I can remember, other than our cars and the house, I've never bought anything unless I've had the money already set aside to pay for it in full.
By following that simple strategy, I've been able to avoid tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments over the years. That's money I've been able to, for example, spend on a last-minute vacation to Hawaii in 2011 and, even more importantly, feed into my retirement, mad money and rainy-day funds.
The moral of the story
It's never too late to start your quest for financial freedom.
Remember, if I can do this, you can too -- even if you have a modest income and/or currently find yourself buried under a mountain of debt. Trust me: The only catch is you've really got to want it.
The bottom line is this: Debt limits your choices and future opportunities in life because you end up spending tomorrow's wages today.
The good news is that by forcing -- and then keeping -- the red ink on your balance sheet to a minimum, you'll not only keep more control of your life as you get older, but you'll also gain the financial flexibility to make it richer and more rewarding.
More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:
- 10 characteristics of debt-free people
- Why some married couples shouldn't share their finances
- 19 things your millionaire neighbor won't tell you
- Calculator: How much house can you afford?
- Buy less house, not more
- Do you have too much debt?
We made a choice to live below our means and keep debt to the very minimum. When we were younger rather than buying boats and Mc mansions we chose to stay in our home and pay it off and fish from the shore. We are free humans. Our home is paid for, we have NO debt. I work just to maintain health coverage for us. Debt is slavery. I really think consumer companies want you enslaved to force you to work. Get control of your money and make it work for you instead of against you.
It's a very secure feeling to be able to sit back in these screwed up times and know we can wait for better times without panicing.
Congrats to those of you who haven't had to deal with unexpected changes in your life, like the company you work for going out of business leaving you unemployed, or the company downsizing, or moving your job overseas.
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