Pursuing Financial Independence

 

It’s Never Too Late to Achieve Yours!

 

Back in May, Business Insider ran an article with this headline: “Biden Isn’t Stepping In to Stop 20 GOP-led States From Yanking Federal Unemployment Within Weeks.” Clearly, the writer thought that ending those extra federal unemployment checks was a bad thing. But I don’t agree. In fact, I think ending them was a step toward the goal we should all be going after: financial independence.

 

The American Way

Financial independence, or financial freedom, is one of the most American concepts out there. The famous finance coach Dave Ramsey defines it like this: “Financial freedom means that you get to make life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial impact because you are prepared. You control your finances instead of being controlled by them.”

For me, this goes back to the difference between being rich and being wealthy. Rich people don’t have financial independence. They might have nice cars or huge houses, but they’re still living paycheck to paycheck, just with more money than most of us. They spend foolishly and are actually secretly in debt. Wealthy people, on the other hand, are the folks who spend their money wisely, invest, and save. They don’t depend on their next paycheck to get by because they’re in control of their money. They have financial independence!

 

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

In my personal experience, no-strings-attached payments from the government create more rich people, not more wealthy people. When someone who has never had much money receives a cash payment, they’ll likely spend it on something they’ve wanted for years, like a motorcycle, rather than saving or investing it. That puts the money right back into the pockets of wealthy business owners, manufacturers, and shareholders.

Now, I don’t think unemployment shouldn’t exist — some people really are desperate, can’t work, or are in another bad situation where they need help. But when you hand out money like candy, it seems to just make rich people richer and poor people poorer. Just look at our current wealth gap. It widened like crazy during the pandemic! American billionaires grew their wealth by $931 billion from March–October 2020. Meanwhile, CNN reported 42% of ordinary Americans said their financial security was “the same or worse” in December 2020 than it had been before the pandemic. For me, the moral of this story is that you can’t wait for someone to hand you financial independence. It just won’t work! You have to take the initiative and learn how to save, invest, and manage your money on your own.

Your Keys to Independence

Achieving financial independence and unlocking wealth as an average Joe takes years of hard work. I’m still working away at it, but I’m getting there, and you can too! Here are a few places to start:

  • Read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki.
  • Watch “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” on CNBC.
  • Check out the YouTube channels “Meet Kevin,” “ZipTrader,” “The StockWatch,” and “Jerry Romine Entrepreneur Abroad.”
  • When you come across “free” or unexpected money, invest it immediately!
  • Set a long-term lofty goal. For me, it was purchasing a second home, which I ended up listing on Airbnb. Having a lofty goal prevented me from spending the money on a fancy new car …which I would love to have! And when you hit your goal, immediately set another bigger goal!

All of these resources have taught me a lot, and if you disagree with what I said above, they just might change your mind. Good luck, and happy (Financial) Independence Day!

 

-Randy Sklar

 

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