I had never really heard of ‘financial independence’ as a concept until Mr. FrugaLee started talking about it here. This whole idea is new to me. I’m still exploring what it is because everyone has their own definition.
To me, financial independence means planning ahead, setting goals, and working hard so that you can live a better life later. It means making sacrifices early in your life, so that finances aren’t something you worry about later when you achieve financial independence. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have frugal fun!
Financial independence does not mean getting rich so that you can live an extravagant lifestyle with fancy cars and big houses. In fact, I’ve learned that most individuals who have achieved financial independence on their own still live very frugal lives and are good stewards of their money.
It also doesn’t mean having enough money to quit working for the rest of your life. Again, those who have achieved their goals usually work harder than they have ever worked in their lives, but at that point, they are usually not working for money.
The focus is on freedom—freedom to work whenever and however you want, freedom from anxiety about debt and upcoming bills, freedom from a lack of control over your finances.
Marketing, advertising, and consumer spending have trapped the majority of Americans in an endless cycle of consumerism, which has led many to live paycheck to paycheck. Student loans have become a part of life with students rarely considering the actual costs and whether the investment will allow them to live a life they imagined.
There is clearly a lack of personal finance education in our country. I don’t claim to be an expert. In fact, I’m essentially living paycheck to paycheck and have accumulated over a six-figure student debt load. However, I want to be aware of how money can affect my life, my relationships, and my family; I am actively learning about personal finance.
Overall, I haven’t given as much thought to my financial independence goals as I should. There are just so many things to consider! For now, I am setting some goals for myself so that I can at least aim for something. I know these goals will change as life happens.
Goals for Financial Independence:
- Pay off student loans (currently over 220K) within five years of graduating residency (2025)
- Build a net worth of at least 1M by 2030