What Does Financial Freedom Mean to You?

By Mal Keenan

So, what does financial freedom mean to you? Most working people dream of being financially free. It certainly sounds like something we'd all want. But have you ever stopped to really think about what it means? It can mean different things to different people, so before you spend time looking for it, maybe it's worthwhile to examine what the concept really means to you.

After all, it's hard to find something if you don't know exactly what it is!

Time and money are inversely related. This means that in most cases, one can be traded for the other. And if you think of how that applies both to your everyday life and to the way business is conducted, it's true. For example, you can spend your own time cleaning your house or mowing your lawn, or pay someone to do it for you, and free up the time for yourself. You can spend time researching on your own, or you can pay some money for someone else's specialized knowledge in that same field.

With that idea in mind, financial freedom may be defined broadly as reaching the point where you no longer have to trade your time for money in order to provide for what you want in life. There are two key phrases in that idea - "no longer have to trade" and "what you want". These are what you have to define for yourself, in order to determine what it means to you.

To many, being free financially means just not having to work for a living. They dream of stepping off the treadmill of going to work everyday to pay the bills. Some may want to escape the stresses of the job itself, unpleasant working conditions, commuting, boredom, and so on. Others may just value more time to be with their families and pursue their own interests. For most people, it's some combination of those.

But some people will want to continue to work, even after they've reached a state of financial and emotional freedom. They may already have a job they find personally rewarding, or they may be able to switch to another job which they love. If they're financially free, the income they receive from a job doesn't matter as much. Still others may want to run their own business. Financial freedom, for these people, means they don't "have to trade" their time for money, but they may choose to do so.

The other important factor in becomming financially free is that of your current and future lifestyle. Some people prefer a very modest home, car, vacations, and possessions, and will always want to live that way. Starting from the same point, these people will be able to reach a level of financial freedom sooner than those who aspire to more elegant surroundings.

To reach financial freedom, you will have to decide on your own means of getting there. You may find you can reach that point on an income, most likely from your own business, from investment income, or from a combination. If you take the business income route, be sure to build something that will continue to provide income, even if you don't trade your time for it. Otherwise, you won't have reached that level as we've defined it here.

Ultimately, financial freedom is about control. Control over your own time and life, that will let you make the choices you want to make, rather than being forced to accept those offered by circumstance.

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