This “In Search Of Financial Freedom: What I’ve Learned So Far” is a continuation of my Financial Freedom series. In the past two or three posts, I discussed financial freedom in different ways (one was about “How To Achieve Financial Independence” and the other one was my interview at It Pays Dividends). This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy.
Ever since I paid off my debt of $40K, I have felt like I am on my way to achieving financial freedom. It’s really exciting to think that one day, which I believe is sooner than later, that I will no longer worry if my family has more than enough to live for the rest of my our lives.
While I think that my wife and I are on our way to achieving financial freedom, the road has not always been smooth. What I can say is that in the past couple of years we have learned a lot from this journey and this journey is one that we never thought we would go through.
When I started working, which was almost 10 years ago, I told myself that I would retire by age 62. I thought that the best way was to go for the 9 to 5 type job since a lot of people are on that track. As years went by, I realized that I didn’t want to work for a long time (not that it’s bad). I realized that I want to spend as much time as I can with my family without having to worry about money. Luckily, my wife shared and still shares the same thought about financial freedom and early retirement.
When I was growing up, my family didn’t have much. My father was a tricycle driver who earned a dollar or less in a day. That dollar fed or barely fed a family of 11. My mom and dad weren’t able to save money. What I’m trying to say is that, in general, I know how difficult it is to live with little to nothing in the bank account. I don’t really use this experience as an inspiration to strive better per se. I use this just as a reminder.
In Search Of Financial Freedom: What I’ve Learned So Far
Enough of that story, here are some of the things my wife and I have learned so far in our attempt to achieve financial freedom.
Not easy but doable
Achieving financial freedom is not an easy task to accomplish. If it were, then, I would assume that a lot of people would be financially free by now.
What I learned in the past couple of years is that you can’t expect that you’ll straighten your finances in a short time period. If people tell you that it’s easy to fix your finances right away, then, something may be wrong in the picture. I didn’t say that it’s not possible but I say that it’s not that easy.
I believe that you cannot change your ways of life overnight. Don’t take overnight literally as one night. This overnight means that you cannot change your lifestyle and mindset right away. Changing those take time and some trials and errors. What really helped me get out of my debt and get me back on the right direction to financial freedom are perseverance and discipline.
Mistakes as lessons learned
If there’s a person who you know who have achieved financial independence without making any mistakes, please let me know because I would love to learn his/her tricks.
I have made small and big mistakes that cost me more than just money. As much as I want to avoid making mistakes, they are part of my family’s journey to freedom. I lost money because I bought shares of stock that tanked a couple of days later. I paid more taxes because I didn’t fully fund my deferred 401k, maximize my IRA contribution, etc. These are just some of the mistakes I made.
While many see making mistakes as failures, I see making mistakes as a way to learn and grow into a more-informed, more-experienced individual. The lessons I learned from these mistakes surely helped me avoid making the same ones and making better financial decisions.
In the beginning, I worried too much about money. I even dreamt about my money woes and woke up in the middle of the night scared of what would happen to me and my family because of the money problems. That was back then.
What I learned from my previous money problems is that worrying about the problems won’t solve them but figuring and adopting strategies to solve those do. I find that the same reasoning applies to reaching financial independence. As my family goes through the road of financial freedom, what I found early on in our attempt to reach financial freedom is that worrying put us further away from our goal. Why? It’s because we put too much thought of what would happen rather than focus on what we could do to be financially free.
I don’t say that you don’t need to think about the what-ifs but focusing too much on those will take valuable time, which you can use to get more important things done or goals accomplished.
The would-be, could-be, should-be advisors
As we go through our journey to financial independence, what my wife and I found is that there are people who will provide you great pieces of financial advice and people who are basically pretenders (i.e. those who do the talk but not the walk). These people are great sources for information (i.e. tips and tricks on how to better manage your finances). Weird as it may seem but I do pick the brains of these two sets of people in formulating or making my own financial decisions.
You may be asking why I don’t just get advice from people who provide great advice. It’s because some of their advice don’t apply to me. To tell you the truth, some of the pieces of advice of these pretenders make perfect sense to me.
You will meet different kinds of people in your lifetime or as you go through your financial journey. Entertain suggestions or recommendations from many people and filter the ones you think best serve you. Just because you see someone who is financially independent doesn’t mean that he/she has the answers to all your questions.
Remember your situation may or may not be different from that person. It is always best to welcome thoughts from people from different facets of life.
Smile and happiness can go a long way
As I said earlier, going through the journey towards financial independence is not an easy task to do. The best thing you can do is smile and be happy.
Smiling and being happy may seem like natural and easy to do but I tell that they’re not. When you are bombarded with worry and financial conundrums left and right, the last thing you may think of doing is smiling and being happy.
I’ve seen a lot of people who go through life stressed out even though they’ve reached their goals. For me, I like to go through this financial journey smiling and being happy. These just make the things that my wife and I have to go through to reach our dream easier to deal with.
Climbing numbers are nice to see but contributing to charity is even nicer. It always feels good to see your money in the bank grow time after time. This growth can or will become your motivator to even do more.
My wife and I always believe that there’s always goodness in sharing our blessings to others. As we go through our financial journey, we almost make sure that we never fail to contribute our blessings to our community, church, and family. We believe that the great things we are experiencing right now and the ease we experience going through our financial journey is because we do good things to people. It’s what good karma is about.
What have you learned as you go through your journey to financial independence?