Further Up & Further In: The Path To Financial Freedom
Master Your Money. Expand Your Horizons. Pursue Your Dreams. Those words serve as both the tagline of this site and the epitome of financial freedom.
That term invariably means different things to different people. Some simply desire more breathing room in their monthly budget. Others long to become debt-free. Yet others won’t be satisfied until they no longer need to trade their time for money at a job they despise.
But no matter what your personal definition of financial freedom, the path leading to it remains the same. Are you ready to take the next leg further up and further in?
The Path To Financial Freedom
There are many individual steps on the path to financial freedom. I like to think of those which are closely related as combining to form individual “legs” — to use a hiking term — of the overall journey. Each of these legs you successfully traverse on this path puts you that much closer to reaching the summit of your personal Money Mountain.
Most of us are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, illustrated in pyramid form. Basic human needs such as food and shelter take precedence over all others and form the base of this pyramid. More refined needs such as self-esteem and self-actualization are lower priorities, and are therefore found several levels higher.
In a similar way, some legs on the path to financial freedom must come before others. Much like food and shelter constitute the most basic and essential of human needs, there are two foundational stepping stones of personal finance which must be trodden before exploring its more advanced aspects.
Long-time readers of this blog have likely already completed these first two legs on their respective journeys. But for the sake of those new here, let’s take a quick glance back at these two essential elements before surveying the path that yet lies ahead.
Challenge Your Money Mindset
Modern society is full of misinformation regarding the lifestyle it is possible to lead on a given income level. I’m sure you’ve probably heard the common refrain that the median 2017 American income of $31,786 per person is barely enough on which to get by. This myth is often perpetuated via alarmist news headlines, government studies, and political talking points.
But believing the lie that financial freedom and success are out of reach for all but the wealthy is self-defeating — it virtually guarantees that you’ll never try to achieve either one.
That’s why the first leg on the path to climbing your Money Mountain and achieving financial freedom is a psychological one. You need to challenge your existing money mindset and expand the horizons of what you believe you can achieve, regardless of your income level.
So just how do you do that? Start by finding motivation in the knowledge that the average American has an income just $1,301 removed from ranking within the top 1% in the world.
Study the impact that simply getting intentional with your finances can have to make your goals a reality, as it did ours. Fuel your financial ambition with the simple formula for becoming a self-made millionaire by way of the compound interest rocket to riches.
And if you’ve got debt, get encouraged by its hidden wealth potential — because believe it or not, there’s gold in them thar loans.
Master Your Money Bronco
Correcting your money mindset is step one, but doing so won’t suddenly cause your finances to fall into line. Left untamed, your money can be as unruly as a rodeo bronco. That’s why the second leg on the path to financial freedom consists of saddling up with an effective budget and money management system.
This step is a critical one that doesn’t often receive the full attention it deserves. Far too many resources gloss over it by making only a passing reference along the lines of “track your spending and create a budget . . . “, without ever detailing how to actually do so.
In other cases, recommended save-spend budget percentages are simply borrowed from an arbitrary template or static formula — one of the many reasons budgets fail.
That’s why we’ve spent so much time and detail filling in the gaps with the comprehensive Master Your Money series, which guides you step-by-step through how to reverse-engineer an automated, low-maintenance, and fool-proof budget and money management system from your own unique goals and ideal future lifestyle.
The series outlines everything you need to know to transform your money from a wild and unpredictable opponent to a trusty steed capable of carrying you to financial freedom. You can find the cliff notes in Your 26-Step Blueprint For Building A Bullet-Proof Budget.
Supercharge Your Savings
Here at The Financial Freedom Project, we’ve focused almost exclusively to date on these first two legs of the path to financial freedom. But now that you have successfully positioned yourself to win with money, you’re ready to start running up the score.
This is where the fun begins. The next leg consists of supercharging your savings by exploring detailed strategies for saving money. Every single dollar of savings you identify as a result will boost your bottom line and potentially speed up your ability to reach the finer things in life.
And while we’ll start with some strategies for saving on typical household expenses, we won’t stop there. We’ll also take long looks at how you can optimize your taxes, harness the power of insourcing, plot your financial independence, invest like the best, save money through sustainable living, and live well on less.
These represent the remaining legs on the path to financial freedom. Moving forward, my focus will shift to these more advanced topics in support of helping you take your finances to the next level.
Further Up & Further In
The list of ways in which you can optimize your personal finances is nearly endless. Some strategies represent quick wins, while others require more effort in exchange for less reward.
As we move forward, those of you possessing higher income levels or less aggressive definitions of financial freedom may find that at some point your identified savings will snowball to the point that you can safely ignore the strategies which offer diminishing returns.
But one of the primary reasons this blog exists is to demonstrate the lifestyle freedom it is possible to achieve with just an average income — or even less. Based on my own experience, I’ve found that taking this path less traveled to financial freedom often requires pressing further up and further in to creative savings strategies than many others typically will.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. My goal is to therefore leave no potential source of savings unexplored — no matter how small — while helping you attain financial freedom and financial independence.
As we prepare to set out on this new leg on the path to financial freedom and push deeper within the world of personal finance, I leave you with the words of the Unicorn at the end of The Last Battle, the final installment in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles Of Narnia:
“Come further up, come further in!”
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