This page is dedicated to Financial Freedom and how to reach it through 4 (+1) steps. Here you find the actions we need to take in order to reach, one day, Financial Freedom.
What do I mean by Financial Freedom?
It’s pretty simple. I mean planning our present and future by keeping in mind one simple goal: to have more time for ourself, our family and our hobbies.
Money plays a big role in this “game”. That’s why we should start taking care about it as soon as possible. I started my path to Financial Freedom in 2017, when I was 23 years old, investing on ViaInvest.
As you can probably understand at the moment my focus is on investing platforms like Mintos and Grupeer (P2P Lending). Howewer my goal for the next months is to add to my Investment Portfolio a new financial instruments: ETFs.
In any case it is not important the instrument (or instruments) you want to use. The most important thing is making the first step: take the decision to be Financially Free, find the motivation to be constant over time and focus on the goal.
Once you’ve made this first step, the real path to Financial Freedom begins. In the next infographic you can see the 4 (+1) steps that a person should complete (in my opinion) in order to achieve this goal.
Note that this is my personal view, not the divine truth. These are the steps that I want to accomplish because, in my opinion, they’re the milestones to Financial Freedom.
This infographic is just a sort of reminder. Feel free to download and print it if you want. In the next section of the page I describe each step and give advices on how to achieve each goal.
Let’s start with the important things!
The very first thing to do is start budgeting (the sooner the better!). For budgeting I mean tracking all your income and expenses. You can do it on paper or on Excel. The important thing is that you do it! You may think of it as a boring activity that takes a lot of time, but you’ll discover that in reality it is not so.
You can find countless ready-to-use Excel sheets on the web, or you can download my own sheets.
Read the dedicated article: Download my Monthly Budget spreadsheet
Budgeting is very important for many reasons:
- knowing exactly your income
- knowing exactly your expenses
- knowing exactly where your mone goes
This is in my opinion the starting point of Financial Freedom. So, once you track your income and expenses you can understand hou you can spend less money.
Understanding where you can actually save money is a strictly personal task. I don’t know where you spend your money and therefore I can’t tell you how you can spend less money without making sacrifices.
Remember that Financial Freedom is not about making sacrifices but it’s about using our money in the best possible way.
I can only give you some advice. Keep in mind that every little you can save along the way will count. No matter how small you start if you keep going.
- Minimize your stuff: sell what you don’t really need. By doing so you will have to pay less for repairs, maintenance, taxes and insurance depending on what you sell
- Spend your money with more consciousness (example: instead of buying 3 pairs of bad quality shoes, buy one or two pairs of good quality shoes)
- Minimize your wants. If you minimize your wants you will save money at a higher rate. Before buying something, ask yourself: Do I really need this? If yes, can you buy it for less?
- Prioritize what is important. Prioritize and differentiate what you need from what you just want. Cut back on spending in non important areas
- Find how to get what is important cheaper. Make sure to not spend an euro more than necessary (look for coupons..). When you’re ready to spend X find the way to spend X-10%. Go in store if you need to try an item or get an advice then do your online research. Use websites/apps to compare prices. Check out cashback sites (examples: for FR https://fr.igraal.com, for IT https://dubli.com/it/it/ and so on)
Once you understand how you spend your money and you have taken the first steps towards Financial Freedom, it’s time to SAVE MORE.
Always remember the base idea: save money to make it works for you. So think about what you can make you save money without an impact on your lifestyle.
At the beginning it is not important how much you save, just start small with a reasonable amount (for example, 5% of your income). Give yourself time to enter the mechanism.
In order to save more money, you can increase your income, increase your education (read financial books, listen to audiobooks..) or increase your saving rate. If you’ve already done what I said in step #1 you have already increased your saving rate. Good!
If you have debts, start by paying off them, then open a savings account. My advice is to have two (or three) separate bank accounts: one dedicated to the money you use every day and to your emergency fund (2-3 years worth of living expenses) and the other dedicated to your savings and investments. This subdivision will allow you to better control your money by avoiding for example that you spend saved money in useless things.
Just to make an example, I tell you my current situation. I have two bank accounts: one ING account, that I use for my everyday life and my emergency fund and one HelloBank! account, that I use to make investments, even if I’m opening a DEGIRO account to reduce the costs related to these investments.
Now that you better know your financial situation it’s time to start planning your (financial) future life.
Figure out how much money you will need to understand when you can actually stop working. Think about where you want to live and evaluate your monthly expenses (for example, until age 90).
If you don’t already have an emergency fund, create one! It should amount to at least 2 or 3 years of living expenses. This is very important! It is not nice to say but in the future something not good may happen and if we are financially ready to face it will be better for us.
Once you have best calculated your future income and expenses, make the final computation. The amount that will result is just a forecast, but do your best while doing it! The general rule is that you need an investment portfolio equivalent to 25 years of living expenses to retire.
For instance, if your final computation says that your future expenses will be $15,000 per year, you need $375,000 of active investments to retire. This is just a general rule, not the divine truth. Its sole purpose is to give you an idea of how much money you need to retire, a starting point for your in-depth analysis.
Check out some advice to save more money:
- Round up your purchase to deposit in your saving account. For example, I’m currently using an application that rounds the amount of each purchase and put the difference on a saving account. Doing so you will save money without even realizing it. I’m using Oval (use the referral link to receive 5 EUR bonus)
- Put any extra income into your saving account
- Always look for coupons and cashback opportunities before making a purchase. I’m currently using a mix of cards in order to have great cashbacks. At the moment I have the Curve card and the Hype card (Receive a bonus of 10 EUR by ordering the card from the link). Whenever I make a purchase, by combining them I obtain a good cashback. If we add also cashback websites like Dubli the advantage is even bigger.
My advice is to plan, month by month, the percentage target to be saved by starting a small percentage and going up to reach a high but sustainable percentage in the long term. Then try to stick to the plan.
- First month: saving rate = 5%
- Second month: saving rate = 7,5%
- Third month: saving rate = 10%
- and so on, up to the percentage that you think is the highest sustainable for you
Now that you have completely reorganized your financial life and you have a clearer idea about it, it’s time to set some financial goals with deadlines. A goal with a deadline will keep you motivated.
As you probably know I’m currently tracking on the blog my financial goals. Setting goals and writing them down is extremely important, trust me.
It’s important to set few goals (5 or 6) and very precise. Check out my goals to understand how to set effective goals. Use numbers, not only words.
- “Save 10% of my income every month” is an effective goal
- “Save more” is not an effective goal
Track them month by month or week by week if you prefer. I have annual goals and I track them every beginning of the month.
Be ambitious, do not set goals too easy. For example, at the beginning of 2019 I set 6 financial goals. I think that 1 or 2 of them were too easy to achieve, so next year I will aim higher.
Now it’s time to create new cash flow sources in order to achieve the goals set in point #3.
The main goal is to get more money. Getting more money is an extremely faster way than saving more money if our goal is Financial Freedom. Maybe you think it is difficult and time-consuming but it is not. You just have to decide between working a little bit more in the next 5-10 years or working until 65 years old or more. That’s all.
Look for extra jobs (teach your language, write for blogs…). Think about what you do best and turn your passions into new cash flow sources. For instance I love investing, personal finance and personal development. That’s why I’m trying to turn these passions into a stable cash flow source.
The secret to Financial Freedom is having multiples sources of income (the more the better) in order to be less vulnerable if one source stream dries out. The you just have to let compund interest work for you.
Here you are some quick ideas to create new income sources:
- Create a website
- Affiliate sales
- Rent a room or a property
- Buy stocks/ETFs with dividends (invest smartly and for the long term)
- Sell stuff on Etsy or similar sites
You can create new income sources in many different ways. Create one at a time and work hard on it before moving on.
Our goal is to get to the point where our investments can completely cover our expenses. Maybe it will takes 5 years or maybe 20, but keep in mind one thing: the less you spend the sooner you reach Financial Freedom.
Once you get to the point where income = expenses you can decide without pression what to do with your life. You can decide to not give up your job because you really love it or to give up it and completely dedicate yourself to increase your income more and more.
Once you are financially free, my advice is to enjoy life as much as you can: do what is really important for you, do things that you love and are truly passionate about, spend time with people you really care about.
Finally, some important key points:
- Income is not wealth
- Think long-term
- Always keep in mind taxes
This page will always be constantly updated. I will add new ways to spend less money, new ways to save more money and so on, so stay tuned!
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