A Guide To Financial Independence
A guide to financial independence. What are some things you can do to become financially independent and free? What should your goals be, what do you need to do?
To become financially independent is a goal. Achieving any goal requires planning. The average person stays away from financial planning because he thinks he doesn't understand it, but money isn't hard to comprehend. All you have to do is take control of your financial universe. And all that takes is a little time.
Know where you stand
To know where you want to go, you have to know where you've been and where you are. Do this by calculating your net worth (you don't have to be a millionaire to have a net worth). Think of it like a gas gauge on your car. You wouldn't drive anywhere without knowing where it is.
Calculating your net worth is easy. You'll probably find you're worth more than you thought.
a.. Make a list of your assets and what you owe.
b.. Include the market value of your home, retirement, investments and the cash value of your life insurance policy(ies).
c.. Don't not include the value of cars, furniture or other personal items. They're never worth what you think.
d.. Debts include mortgage, loans, credit card debt.
e.. Subtract the total debt from total assets. The difference is your net worth.
Continue these calculations every few months to see if your net worth grows or shrinks. If it's shrinking, take a close look at your debts.
How do you spend your money?
You need to know how you spend your money, particularly discretionary expenses such as gifts, entertainment, dining out. Keep track of these expenditures. Several personal finance computer programs make it easy.
Think about tomorrow
Plan for future major expenses such as college tuition, a vacation home, early retirement and what will be required to realize those dreams. Prioritize these goals.
Slash credit card debt
The fastest track toward financial comfort is debt reduction. Credit card interest is usually over 18% and can be a drain on your income. If you're in too deep, consider a home equity loan to dig yourself out. Interest rates are lower and are tax deductible.
Saving and investing are the best ways to amass wealth. Whether through a simple savings account or stocks, bonds and mutual funds, time and compound interest are your biggest allies. Consult a professional for investment strategies that fit your needs. Diversify your investments. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Continue to review your financial plan regularly. It takes a little time, but can pay big dividends in the future.