(Contributed Article by Ana-Kaye Green) The sea breeze caresses your face, and the sun is the perfect temperature- not so hot that it scorches your skin, but just hot enough to keep the atmosphere cool and not cold. The waves gently rumble and crash onto the shore, you take a deep breath and look up at the clear blue sky. As you lower your gaze, your butler serves you a cool refreshing drink.
Are you on vacation? No. Is this a weekend at resort? No again. For you it’s just a regular Monday morning at 9 am, because you have achieved the holy grail. You have achieved the coveted goal of “Financial Freedom”. But is this what a life of financial freedom really is? Does it mean that every day is a leisure day, and you will never again have to work a day in your life? Absolutely not.
I’d like to challenge that narrow view of financial freedom. Believe it or not, not everyone wants a life of complete leisure, and some prefer being engaged in a meaningful enterprise. Furthermore, this utopian ideal of a life of absolute leisure can seem daunting to achieve and have the effect of deterring those of us not born with a trust fund from aspiring to experience the freedom that comes as a result of making money management a worthwhile practice.
So, in order to understand financial freedom, let’s focus on the “Freedom” aspect. Freedom means the right to act or move freely. It is the state of being free from the control or power of another. It is doing what you want. So “Financial Freedom” therefore means having the ability to live life the way you want without your finances being a hindrance to getting these things done. We have a range of desires. We may dream as big a traveling the world in a year, buying a mega yacht or we may have other goals such as ensuring our parents are taken care of and/or ensuring that our children can attend university. Which is more meaningful? Who is to say one set of desires is what makes you “freer” than the other if freedom is doing what YOU want?
Financial freedom therefore means different things to different people. To you it can mean being able to expand your home, having your wife stay home to take care of your infant or being able to take one international vacation each year WITHOUT negatively impacting your way of life and your ability to meet your obligations. It can mean having no anxiety whenever its time to pay your car insurance or handling medical bills without stress because you were already prepared for that financial commitment. It can mean that your mother can worry less because she knows she can depend on you, and you are confident that she can depend on you as well.
Having the freedom to never work again is ultimate attainment of financial freedom. However, I challenge us to understand that financial freedom is a spectrum and with hard work and intentional money management we can over time achieve increasing degrees of financial freedom, by setting practical and realistic goals and by being guided by what goals are fulfilling to us and not necessarily following the goals society seeks to impose on us.
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