When I was in my teens, I found some interesting things around the house growing up.
I would be cleaning, and would open a cabinet or drawer and often find unpaid bills and past due notifications shoved in there collecting dust.
Not knowing a whole lot about finances back then (uh yeah, I’m still learning), I did know enough to realize it was rather bizarre, and not good at all. Since I was now just living with my mom, I knew it was her, and that didn’t surprise me at all that things weren’t being “taken care of.” But the bigger question I had was, “what good is it to bury your head in the sand and ignore your financial obligations and/or troubles?” It’s not like they go away if you can’t “see it.”
I always remember that time in my life because that’s when I became “conscious” of money, and how there was actually a limited amount of it.
Up until then we had it pretty good. My mom stayed at home and my dad was a dentist. We lived in a modest home in a modest neighborhood, but never lacked for food, toys, clothes, school items, recreational activities, etc. Money just seemed to flow in our lives nicely…till my parents got divorced and I started to feel the financial push and pull that often comes when a family is breaking apart.
Even still my college was paid for (and I had a partial scholarship), and my grandparents bought me a brand new car (which I think is totally silly in retrospect) when I was 16.
I’d like to think that as an adult I was never going to be like my mom when it came to money, but admittedly that’s exactly what I did…I just didn’t notice that my head was buried in the sand because I always had a good, steady paying job. Oh the kicking I’m doing to myself as I write this and think back on how much more I could have socked away in my 20’s and 30’s.
But I’ll never get that time back, and all I can do is move forward and do better now. As Maya Angelou said, “when you know better, you do better.”
So now that I’ve been liberated from the shackles (I tend to be dramatic) of financial
stupidity unawareness, I begin to form a clear definition of what being financially independent looks like to me.
- I’m making a salary/freelance income supporting my lifestyle in a very comfortable way, i.e., shelter, food, clothing, medical, entertainment, leisure, etc.
- I’m also making enough to sock away a hefty amount for retirement, emergency fund, car, etc.
- I have an excellent credit score, and never have to worry about paying bills on time, as I have plenty of money in my account to cover what I need.
- I also have a sizable emergency fund which reduces any stress about unexpected expenses.
- I have no debt.
- I do not depend on anyone to take care of me, but do look forward to one day sharing my life (and expenses) with a hubby. 🙂
- Most importantly I envision a retirement where I’m living a comfortable life, being able to travel and enjoy my time.
Financial independence is about having “enough” money where I don’t even think about it and become stressed out. Am I there yet? Not entirely, but I’ve made some serious progress over the last year, and will continue making strides until I reach my goal.
What does financial independence mean to you?