Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thoughts on Financial Freedom by Chris Widener

Here are a few thoughts on financial freedom and how to find it for yourself.

Financial freedom is a buzzword for our generation. It is the pursuit of literally millions of people. So what is it? Is it that elusive? Can anyone achieve it?

Let me start by saying that this is not about how to earn money, or even more money. Rather, it is about how to find financial freedom, which surprisingly, may or may not involve making more money.

The first step in finding financial freedom is to realize that financial freedom has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you have or make.

What? Exactly. Financial freedom is something that goes on inside of you.

This is why someone who makes very little can be happy and someone who makes a ton can be extremely stressed out over his or her financial situation. So the first step is to realize that financial freedom is more about our attitudes toward money than about the amount of money.

"Okay Chris, I'm with you. So what are the attitudes that provide financial freedom?" Here are a few that keep me in financial freedom:

• I do not have to worry about money. I used to catch myself saying, "If I had more money, then I wouldn't have to worry about..." But do you know what? I don't have to worry anyway. I can control my income. I can control my outgo. I can make choices that can alleviate any of my worries. I also realized that things always work out. So why worry? I choose not to worry. I work hard, invest, plan for the future and I do not worry about it.

• I can be happy regardless of my financial state. I know people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and I know people who don't have two nickels to rub together. Some are happy and some aren't. And none of the people who have a lot of money say to me, "Chris, I've become so happy since I got money." They were happy before they had money and they are happy now that they have money. Their happiness has nothing to do with the money. Billionaire David Geffen once said, "Anyone who says that money will buy them happiness has never had any money."

• Money is a means to an end, not the end itself. Another way to look at it is that money is a tool to build the house, not the house itself. I would set some financial goals if I were you, but go beyond that to know what greater purpose there will be when you reach them. What will the house be used for that you build with this tool?

I am free. I am free to earn—some people think it is bad to earn more money. It isn't.
I am free to save—some people believe it is bad to save. It isn't.
I am free to give money away—some people feel they will be better off hoarding it. They won't.
I am free to spend—some people believe that they can't spend anything on themselves. They can.
We are free to make choices. That is financial freedom.
• Embrace delayed gratification. Here is the principle: Buy it now and struggle later. Another principle: Delay buying it now, invest the money, and have all you want later on! And you won't even have to touch the principal! We tend to think that having it now will bring enjoyment, but unless you can do it and not cause yourself financial stress, you will actually get more from waiting!

• Have more by managing better. The fact is that most of us earn enough. What would be beneficial is to set our priorities and live by a budget. As we get control, our budget will loosen up a bit and we will find ourselves enjoying it more. Money that is already there can be your answer if you put it to work for you.

You can experience financial freedom no matter how much money you have. Granted, it is great to build wealth and that should be our goal, but no matter what level you are currently at, or what level of wealth you ultimately attain, if you keep money in the proper perspective, you can be happy and free!

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