Friday is a pretty special day for us Americans. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress—a pretty bold statement for a bunch of revolutionaries who thought it would be cool to take on one of the vastest kingdoms in the world.
Led by General George Washington, the Americans defied all odds to throw off, among other things, the financial bondage laid on them by the Kingdom of Great Britain in the form of taxes. It probably wouldn’t have been an issue if the new colonies were able to represent themselves politically, but they weren’t afforded that right and they called for a throw down.
As I’ve thought about the struggles of our forefathers, I couldn’t help but think about how that translates to each of us individually. I work in an industry where I see people enter financial bondage every day in the name of debt. In a past life in financial planning, I saw that same bondage in other forms like ignorance and out-of-control spending.
We all want to be financially free, right? No one likes to have debt, and no one likes to live from paycheck to paycheck. But just like our forefathers who spent another 7 years fighting the British to affirm that independence, it’s not easy.
Freedom is Never Free
Our freedom has come at a terrible price. Millions have given their lives to obtain and protect it. War is an uncomfortable thing, but unfortunately there are times when it’s necessary. The same goes for your financial freedom. You can’t expect to be able to gain your financial independence without making things a little uncomfortable. It’s not just going to come, even if you find a way to make millions.
So if you want to declare your financial independence, never forget that it comes at a price. You don’t have to be a miser, but if you find that your money is leaving your hand a little too freely, it’s probably a sign to rein it in a little.
Freedom is Maintained by Law
Many of us forget that the end of the Revolutionary War wasn’t the beginning of our freedom. The Articles of Confederation that was ratified before the war ended created a fragile government that wouldn’t have held long without its replacement, the Constitution. Now the Constitution is the highest law in the land. Almost every law we have has it as an original source, which is amazing considering it’s the shortest constitution currently in force.
So what about your constitution? Once you declare your independence, how are you going to maintain it? Creating certain laws for yourself can put you in that position. For me, there are certain things that are integral to my financial plan. Having a monthly budget is one. Having adequate insurance is another. I refuse to ever get into credit card debt (in fact, I’ll do whatever I can to exploit those companies that exploit so many of us).
Your laws may be different than mine. You are, after all, a special snowflake and are different than everyone else in your wants and needs. But if you don’t have fiscal laws that you live by personally, don’t expect your freedom to last.
Freedom is Beautiful
I’ll admit that I take my freedom as an American for granted. There are still countries in this day and age where people are killed because of their opinions, beliefs, and even sexual orientation. To truly and fully recognize the absolute beauty of the freedom we enjoy opens up entirely new perspectives. It also makes you grateful for what you have.
I love reading Mr. Money Mustache because he gets this. One of my favorite articles of his is how his financial freedom gives him a position of strength in his financial dealings. Money is no longer in the equation in his decision-making. It has no bearing on his happiness; rather the freedom he has allows him to find happiness in the things that actually create the stuff sustainably.
But not only has he recognized his position of strength, but he respects it. Despite being independently wealthy, his family of three still lives on a little more than $25,000 a year. Most people wouldn’t be able to live on that sort of income, but if you read his blog enough, you realize that he lives a pretty full life. Rather than taking his freedom for granted, he utilizes it to the fullest.
Declaring Your Independence
So Friday’s a pretty special day for us Americans. But rather than my regular ignorant celebration of hamburgers, root beer, and fireworks, I’m going to take some time to think about how we got it in the first place. If I have time, maybe I’ll even watch arguably the best movie about the holiday 😉
But more importantly, I’m going to review how my own declaration of financial independence is going. I’ll go over my goals and evaluate how my behaviors align with them. And most importantly, I’m going to think about what the point of it all is. After all, if I’m doing it for the money, I’ll never really get there.
What about you? How do you see your financial independence? Are you ready to declare it? Remember, it took the colonists years to affirm theirs, and that will likely be the case for you too. As yourself why you’re doing it, and if the cause is worthy enough, you’ll be prepared to sacrifice for it.
What does your financial independence look like?
p.s. Happy Independence Day!(photo cred)