Being financially independent is a dream that just about all of us share but achieving it is a lot tougher than it seems. Financial independence requires a commitment to good habit-forming and not only keeping up with your job, but budgeting that income as well.
If you are struggling with gaining your financial independence or just worried about your future, this article will explain to you 13 smart habits that have helped plenty of others get a hold of their expenses and move out of mom’s basement.
1) Budget Effectively
Creating a proper budget for your expenses is the first and most important step of gaining financial independence.
You will need to have a budget for your day-to-day activities so you can keep track of what you are spending on things like gas, food, and any leisure activities and see where you can cut costs.
Keeping a budget for monthly expenses such as rent, utilities (electric, sewage, etc.), car insurance, and phone bills, are also incredibly helpful to see exactly how much you can spend on a place to live. Keep in mind that a mortgage isn’t the only thing you have to budget in if you’re planning to buy a house.
Plus, you will need to start budgeting for long-term goals like vacations or yearly trips if you find you have some leftover money. A good budget will hopefully have a little money left over after all the expenses are paid so you can see how long it will take to save up towards a vacation or something along those lines.
There are all kinds of budgeting tools and apps available out there, so even if you aren’t too sure on how to budget well, it is easy to get the hang of it through these.
2) Find Extra Income
One way to speed up the process of gaining financial independence is by getting some extra income. For those with a lower income than they’d like, you may want to find a second job or search for an alternative method of gaining income.
Finding extra income can mean basically anything and with the internet having so many resources to do this, you can get very creative in finding extra income.
You can sell homemade products online, you can do freelance work if you are experienced in a certain field, you can even make entertaining or instructional videos and monetize them on certain websites.
All in all, finding extra income and budgeting it for the long-term is the quickest way to gain financial independence. It will require the most work but if you are looking to get it done, this is the way you can do it.
3) Be Smart With Your Debt
Even the richest people on Earth have debt and it is nothing to be scared of if you want to become financially independent. However, if you create debt that you can’t easily pay off this can set you back even further.
If you have student loan debt, it is important to pay off what you can pay and look for options that can help you do so more effectively. There are many resources to help students pay their federal loans back while still being able to save money for their future.
Credit card debt is also something many people struggle with and, while credit cards can greatly help with financial independence, not budgeting them for the long-term can set you back right when you thought you achieved it.
4) Think About the Future
There are many people who become financially independent for a few months before they realize they have to go back to their old way of life. This is a lot of what creating a long-term budget is about.
The future could mean next year, 5 years from now, or all the way to retirement, but you should plan for it if you want to stay financially independent consistently.
5) Live Within Your Means
This harkens back a bit to budgeting effectively but, sometimes, it can be a hard pill to swallow realizing what means you have to live within to save enough money to gain financial independence.
You may have to search hard for apartments with lower rent costs or move back in with a loved one to save, however, it is important you know what your upper limit is when it comes to spending money.
6) Set Aside Some of Your Income For Savings
Many people will set aside a certain percentage of their income specifically for their savings. As opposed to the hardworking individuals that look for the extra income to gain financial independence quickly, those that set aside income for savings usually look at the big picture.
Setting aside your income for savings can help you gain a much more comfortable financial independence down the road. Of course, you don’t need to go overboard and put all of your paycheck into savings, a simple 5-10% would be plenty.
Then, once you achieve financial independence, having that extra savings will help immensely with any expensive purchases likecar repairs. This will help keep your financial independence that much more secure.
7) Ask For Advice
Asking for advice is one of those things that everyone needs to do from time to time and, even if you want to be independent, you will need to lean on others from time to time.
If you have questions on how to budget or questions on what you may have been doing wrong before, it is a great idea to seek some advice from people who are financially independent. Just because you are looking to be financially independent doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.
8) Take Reasonable Risks
Sometimes, you will have to take a risk or two to gain financial independence. This could mean taking on that extra job formore money or spending a little to take a class to become certified in the better paying job you desire.
This could also mean struggling for a while before becoming truly financially independent. You may have to go a little inthe red to pay off the debt you have or make progress in something you believe will get you more money in the future.
Take these risks within reason, however, do not shy away from taking a financial risk that may help you in the long-term.
9) Keep Impulse Buys to A Minimum
Impulse buys are things like that nice new name-brand jacket you saw in the window of your local clothing outlet. While it is nice to budget in some retail therapy, this is certainly one of the first expenses you should cut out.
Many people still struggle with financial independence because they will immediately start buying unnecessary things as soon as they get some excess money. Keeping these purchases to a minimum will help increase your savings so you can treat yourself a little later on down the line.
10) Educate Yourself Financially
See what other people are doing to help them become financially independent! You are already doing a pretty good job of research if you are this far into the article but there’s no point in stopping here.
Continuing to talk to experts and reading up on strategies that will help aid your finances will always help you keep your mind on your money and give you fresh ideas about how to save and spend effectively.
11) Avoid Leasing or Renting
Leasing and renting, especially with cars, isa short-term fix to a long-term problem. In the end, you do not own whatever you’re leasing and you could be saving much more down the road if you own rather than rent just about anything.
12) Don’t Delay Problems
Expensive problems like car or home repairs can become worse the longer you put them off. It is always best to just handle them as soon as you can so you can begin saving again without those expenses constantly looming over you.
Putting these problems off will certainly help you save some extra money but once the problem becomes too much to handle, all that money you saved will go right to fixing it. Then, you are simply back to square one, if not even further behind.
13) Insure Only What’s Needed
Insurance companies certainly don’t like this advice but it is a good idea for those that are seeking financial independence. If you are young, things like some insurances are not always necessary.
For example, if you are living in the city or on a college campus, your car insurance may be an easy expense to see go. If you own a car and don’t make payments on it, think about leaving it in a loved one’s garage while you’re not using it.
Of course, if you don’t use a car there is no need for car insurance and this can save you hundreds of dollars per year. Not to mention, you can get some good exercise walking around in your daily commute!
Gaining financial independence is no easy task. It typically takes years or decades or perseverance and dedication. But, these smart money tips will help you get that much closer to freedom as you implement them in you life.