Almost everyone would agree that having a life filled with financial security is extremely important. Having the ability to travel the world, start a business or pursue your passion, and leave a legacy behind for your children is a high-priority for most people. One can’t truly obtain those things unless you become financially independent. Racking up credit cards can only go so far before it catches up to you.
Money management and building wealth is the only way to reach true financial independence. The CGS Team is sharing 7 money moves that you can do, or work towards doing, so you can reach your own level of financial success. Like most things worth having, it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Also, the sooner you start, the sooner you will see the success you want.
7 ways to become financially independent…
#1 Visualize your goal, then plan it out.
Financial independence looks different to everyone, but it’s most-basic level, financial independence is the security to live a life without worry. To some, that would include taking lavish vacations and coming home to a home that’s paid for.
To others it could simply mean a roof over their head and a car to get to work. Visualize what financial independence means to you. Once you have an idea of what it means for you to be financially independent, write down that life.
Once you have your financial independence vision on paper, write down what is going to help you get there. Maybe it’s saving half of your paycheck, or paying off debts.
Indicate what you need to do to be in a position to receive financial independence. Always remember what financial independence means to you, especially when you are working towards it. It’s going to take sacrifice to live the life you want, but keeping the end goal in mind will help.
#2 Create your budget and spending plan, then track.
Tracking your finances effectively starts with proper budgeting. Budgeting is the process of determining your income, subtracting your expenses and deciding how to use the difference to achieve your goals. It’s the essential first task in achieving financial independence.
Budgeting gives you a high-level overview of your situation. It tells you if your income covers your expenses. It tells you how much you should be saving or putting towards debt.
Where people seem to go wrong with a budget is when they fail to account for discretionary spending. Since discretionary spending (things like entertainment, shopping, dining out) isn’t a set number each month, it’s often left out. Ensure that when you create your spending plan, you account for fun spending. Keep the fun down to a moderate level so you can work towards your goals.
Once you’ve set your budget and created your plan for discretionary spending, you need to come up with a system to track your spending. This could be through an app like Mint, an app like NumReceipt which takes pictures of your receipts and categorizes your spending, or writing it down in Excel or on paper. However you decide to create your tracking system, make sure it works for you. The second it gets too difficult to keep up with, you will lose track.
If you have tried to create a budget and track your spending to no success, let City Girl Savings help! I specialize in providing realistic budget plans to clients and helping them follow those plans through one-on-one coaching. Don’t wait to get the help you need.
#3 Build your safety net.
An ideal emergency fund would be 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. This would be used to continue to pay your bills and debts in the event of job loss. While it’s hard for people to build an emergency fund of this magnitude, especially with debts, it’s important to do what you can.
At minimum, you should have $1,000 in a close-by savings account to tap into for emergencies. This $1,000 could be used for insurance deductibles, car repair, an unexpected trip, or anything of that nature. The purpose of such savings is to help you handle financial burdens easier. If you have to use credit for an emergency, you could cost yourself a lot more than you plan to.
#4 Get rid of your debt.
Of all the money moves to reach financial independence, this may be the hardest. Debt is a vicious cycle of making a payment, getting charged interest, and making another payment that only goes to a portion of the interest you were just charged. Some minimum payments aren’t even enough to cover the amount of interest you were charged!
If you think making the minimum payments is going to make a difference, it’s going to take a very long time before it does. Just look at your statement.
Your lender is required to show you how long it will take to pay off your debt with only the minimum payment compared to a payment of an extra $50 or $100. Not only will it take longer to pay off, but it will also cost you more money because of the interest.
In order to get closer to financial independence, you must eliminate your debt. Start with the high interest-bearing debt like credit cards and personal loans.
Then work your way through auto loans, student loans, and your mortgage. The sooner you can get rid of your debt, the sooner you can start putting that money into savings or investments. Read How to Tackle Your Debt Head On for our tips on getting rid of debt once and for all.
#5 Start investing.
Traditionally, investing meant working with a stock broker to handle investments. Now, there are plenty of options available to people with no knowledge of investing or the stock market.
There are apps and companies that do the work for you at a very low commission rate. There are discount brokerage firms that give you access to trading platforms for you to conduct your own investments.
To really become financially independent, you’ll need to earn a good return on the money you do have saved. Investing is one of the best ways to get that return. Unfortunately, your savings account alone is not enough. It just won’t grow at the rate you need it to in order to get ahead.
Consider investing in stocks, bonds, and other assets that do involve some risk, but help you get your return. Yes, there is the risk of you losing some of your investment, but it’s important to understand that investing is for long-term goals. When you are closer to reaching your goals, shift your investments and their gains into a lower-earning but less risky high-yield savings account.
#6 Live below your means.
It can be difficult to live below your means, especially if you have been used to living way beyond your means. You don’t want to be the girl with the great purse with no money in it. You also don’t want to go on a vacation you can’t afford only to come back to past due bills. Living below your means is a simple concept but a hard process to act on. Living below your means is another way of saying spend less than you earn.
It can be hard to spend less than you earn if your expenses exceed your income every month. In order to avoid that, downsize or get rid of the expenses that are hurting your income.
Refer back to your budget to see what you can get rid of or cut back on. It may not be ideal for you right now, but it will definitely be worth it when you can afford the things you want most. Follow the 5 Rules of Frugal Living to help you live below your means.
#7 Find ways to bring in more money.
The average millionaire has seven streams of income. Financial independence doesn’t mean you have to quit a job you love, but it’s very hard to get to financial independence with an average, steady income.
You need to bring in more money to fuel savings and investments that will build for you over time. If you are behind on your goals, paying off debt or living above your means, chances are you won’t be able to quit that average-income job anytime soon.
Try to think of ways you can bring in more money on a consistent basis. You could start a side business with a hobby you enjoy. You could also consider consulting part-time if you specialize in a specific field. Regardless of how you bring in more income, it’s important to actually do so and keep it as steady as possible. Read 15 Ideas to Earn a Quick Buck for some more ideas on bringing in extra funds.
Anyone can achieve the financial independence they deserve if they are willing to work for it. Start on your journey to financial success by following the money moves above. Seek help when you need it and always remember why you are working so hard! What do you consider financial independence? What are you doing to become financially independent? Leave a comment below to share!