Achieving financial independence


…Steps to financial freedom

Financial independence has gained popularity in recent years as people seek greater financial control. But what exactly is financial independence, and how does it differ from financial freedom? We will attempt to answer these questions in the subsequent paragraphs and provide actionable steps to assist us on our financial independence journey.

What is financial independence?

Financial independence simply means having enough savings, investments or passive income streams to cover your essential living expenses without needing active employment or relying on others for financial support.

Financial freedom vs. financial independence

While the terms ‘financial freedom’ and ‘financial independence’ are often used interchangeably, they can have subtle differences. Financial freedom may imply having enough wealth to pursue your desired lifestyle while financial independence specifically signifies that your passive income sustains your basic needs.

What classifies a person as financially independent?

Being financially independent typically means having enough savings and investments to cover living expenses; multiple income streams, such as investments, rental income or royalties, and the ability to maintain your desired lifestyle without relying on a traditional job.

What are the necessary steps to financial freedom?

Achieving financial independence requires diligent planning and disciplined actions:

Set clear goals: Define your financial goals, whether retiring early, starting a business or travelling the world. Having clear objectives will guide your efforts.

Budget and save: Create a budget to track income and expenses and prioritise saving a portion of your income consistently.

Invest wisely: Diversify your investments, including stocks, bonds, real estate, and retirement accounts. Consider seeking professional financial advice.

Reduce debt: Pay off high-interest debts like credit cards, which can hinder your progress toward financial independence.

Generate passive income: Explore opportunities to generate passive income, such as rental properties, dividend-yielding stocks, or creating a side business/hustle.

Create an emergency fund: Maintain an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, preventing you from dipping into your investments prematurely.

Continuously learn: Invest in increasing your knowledge and skills to boost your earning potential.

Fundamental principles for financial freedom

Financial independence is based on key principles which involve spending less than you earn, saving regularly, and making smart investments. To save money effectively, it’s crucial to get rid of or reduce any debts you might have, decide on specific savings targets, and pay yourself first before making any expenses.

Strategies for effective saving

Saving money can be challenging, but these strategies can help: Setting a budget and tracking spending, automating savings, setting goals, creating a rainy-day fund, and reducing expenses are all good ways to save.

Automate savings: Set up automatic transfers, i.e., standing orders from your checking to your savings account.

Track sxpenses: Keeping track of your expenses is easy with budgeting apps or a simple Excel worksheet.

Cut unnecessary costs: Identify and eliminate non-essential expenses.

Establish goals: Define specific savings goals to give your efforts purpose.

Financial independence is attainable with careful planning, disciplined saving, and smart investing. While the journey may be challenging, the rewards of financial freedom are well worth the effort. By following these steps and principles, you can work toward achieving true financial independence and the freedom it brings.

James is an Investment Advisor – Stanbic Investment Management Services

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