FREEDOM means different thing to different people at different stages of life. Whether you call it independence or liberty, freedom is a state of being FREE. FREE to do whatever you like, you want. Freedom implies no restrictions of any sort, no liabilities, and no dependence on anybody.
I believe freedom to be in a state when you not only live FREE but also feel FREE. So here’s an emotional angle to it. Feeling FREE is a state of mind.
Financial Freedom is no different. It is a state when you are and feel free to do anything and everything, with the money you have. You don’t need to exchange your time for money, but you value your time the most and spend your time the way you want without being worried about money.
This doesn’t mean that money is secondary in being financially free, but it’s a state when your money works for you and gives you enough time to enjoy your life. As I said that freedom is a state of mind, and you will feel free only when you feel secure.
Sometimes you may feel financially free, when you have enough money to take care of yours and your family’s basic necessities of food, shelter, education, and sometimes even after having all luxuries the insecurity still prevails within you.
Financial freedom may also be called as a state of contentment, i.e. when you are not attached to money and feel content with whatever you have. Some feel that contentment is enemy of growth, but I feel that only content mind can innovate and brings growth. You need to prioritize your responsibilities, desires, and work towards achieving the same. Discontent mind cannot focus on what is important and keeps doubting its ability to generate growth. More contended you are, more free you will feel, which results into more growth.
Ask yourself, do you really enjoy your work or you are working just to earn more and more money. Why do you require more money? Is it because you have specific financial goals to achieve or you have so many loans to take care of. Look around you, do you really enjoy what you have or are just after accumulating what others have?
Gaurav wants to buy a residential property, not because he wants to own a house, but because all his friends have two-three properties in their name. Now, net worth wise he is in much better position and may be comparable to what his friends have, but still he wants to have some real asset in his portfolio.
He has enough income to take care of EMIs, but what he needs to understand is that by doing so, for some years he may have to compromise going on international vacations, which he loves the most. Not going on vacations may be more stressful for him. Even after having high income he may not feel content, as his income will go into paying off EMIs which is not what makes him happy. This may be a case where even after having money, one may not feel financially free.
Freedom is something internal and not in comparison. In Gaurav’s case above, he was leading a free life, something that he loves to do, but when he fell into comparison, he compromised his freedom by tying his financials with EMIs.
Does this mean, EMIs are bad for financial freedom? Well, in one way yes! Any restriction, liability doesn’t let you live freely, it doesn’t let you enjoy what you have. It will put you into a circle where you work just because you have to, not because you want to. But on the other side, sometimes you need to restrict yourself for some years to achieve other important goals, that restriction is for a bigger cause, and will support your life goal of financial freedom in later years.
Freedom comes with knowledge - knowledge of what you have, what you want and how you can get it. Recall our Indian Freedom fighters. There were many things common between them. All had the single vision (Free India), common goal (independence) and followed a disciplined and focused approach towards Independence.
Working towards financial freedom is no different from that. Besides a vision or goal oriented disciplined approach, we also have to fight ourselves from within, fight with our ineffective habits like overspending, unnecessary leveraging, investing behavior etc. to reach that state where we can say that we are not worried about our finances anymore.
Some may confuse financial freedom with retirement, which is true to some extent. But this no way says that to be financially free you have to wait till your retirement.
You also need to understand that freedom doesn’t mean anything if you are not able to enjoy the same. Striving for freedom is fine, but you need to take care of your health too and take along with you the important relationships that you feel is required for you to enjoy the state of financial freedom.
Define the Freedom which you are looking for, clear off the restrictions which may stop you from achieving your goal, plan for the responsibilities you have, and strive for the life that you want to live.
Very Happy Independence Day 2016Author is a member of The Financial Planners’ Guild , India (FPGI). FPGI is an association of Practicing Certified Financial Planners to create awareness about Financial Planning among the public, promote professional excellence and ensure high quality practice standards.