Financial independence can be defined in a number of ways. However, when most think of financial independence they dream of a time in their lives when they are generating enough income to cover the essential expenses so that they never have to work again. For some, financial independence is far off into the distance, for others it’s within close reach. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here are 10 financial rules to never break if you want to achieve full financial independence someday:
You obey this principle by always living below your means. Follow this simple rule, no matter what your income and everything else will fall into place. As your income goes up, so will the extra money for savings and investment.
You cannot live within or below your means without knowing what your expenses are and where you can start cutting. The path to that higher knowledge is a budget. There are dozens of free budget templates online. Fill in the template blanks and you’ll learn some rather eye-opening facts about where your money is going. Follow that budget and see how spending discipline give you an immediate leg up on financial independence.
Take a critical look at your budget. Are you spending over $100 for cable TV, for example? Cut the cable and save an extra $1,200 a year. Look everywhere and be ruthless.
If your daily habits include a stop at the coffee shop for that $5 latte, you are spending $100 a month — another $1,200 a year. Make your own frothy caffeinated beverage from the mixes on sale at your grocery store. Look for ways to save costs and expenses through coupons and sales. Keep track of your monthly bills and look for ways to cut down on energy expenses, for example.
You cannot obey financial rule number one without the income from your present employment. There is a correlation between job satisfaction, promotion and ever-increasing earnings. If you are bored, unchallenged and unhappy with your work, you need to take steps to resolve the matter or you will be stuck in a financial rut.
No matter what the slick infomercials and bombastic websites shout out, there is no shortcut to wealth. Anyone who advertises that buying their plan or paying to attend their seminar is manly only interested in making money from you. That meets their financial goals, but detracts from yours.
If you are bogged down in heavy debt and your monthly expenditures are beginning to leapfrog your income, it may be time to consolidate your debts. There are many pathways to debt consolidation. Check around on the web. There is help out there.
If you’re carrying a monthly balance on your credit card, you’re swimming upstream in your quest to get out of debt. Consider instead using a bank debit card, or at least get into the habit of paying off your monthly credit card balance.
Your budget will show that your monthly mortgage payment is one of your biggest expenses. Paying off your mortgage early takes discipline and can eat into those excess funds you will begin accumulating through following steps one through eight. However, once your home is free and clear, you have the true wealth of the worth of your home’s market value. When the mortgage payments go away, you likewise have the income excess that becomes a powerful savings and investment resource.
Start slow if you must, but save something each month. You’re in this for the long term and your goal is to be debt-free and to accumulate real wealth (i.e., to be financially independent). The savings and investment plan that is best for you depends on your age, situation and how much you need for a comfortable retirement. Again, look around. There are financial experts and expertise out there ready to help.