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Financial Independence

In Financial Independence on December 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

This can mean a lot of different things to people. For my purposes, it is simply having a financial base from which to grow. One of my life goals is to promote financial independence – i.e. having individuals be on their own and not requiring assistance from any government, non-profit, friends or family. I am a firm believer that providing individuals with tools to achieve financial independence can cure a lot of social issues from the obvious like food and shelter to the many correlated social issues such as abuse and drug use.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb

To accomplish this lofty task, my goal is to instill simplified messages that can be well understood and transcend age, ethnicity and intelligence. Here are four themes that I am starting to work from.

Be Honest. Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Life can be challenging enough, so be honest to yourself and your loved ones about financial affairs. Pretending you can afford a nice meal out with friends is not a good idea. Never be embarrassed about boot strapping and frugality. You will have plenty of opportunities to make up for the years of being a cheapskate when you are financially sound. Evading the truth is bad for business and corrupts the chances at achieving financial freedom.

Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask. Airlines inform passengers that in case of an emergency, you need to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. This is counter-intuitive! Who doesn’t want to help a child first? Well, think about the practicality. If you are trying to help a child and you die in the process because you didn’t take care of yourself first – you’ve guaranteed you’re of no help for the child for the duration of the emergency and have put two lives at risk.  Take care of yourself financially before trying to help others. You will have plenty of time to support good causes when you have your financial house in order. (I am NOT saying do not volunteer and lend a hand etc. – that is good ethos should always be applied!)

Plan for Black Swans. Black swans are anomalies, just like albino squirrels and other aberrations in nature. Point being, this visual articulates that you need to prepare for the unexpected. The unexpected is typically what takes people down financially – a prime example that seems to happen all the time is people fall ill and can’t afford hospital bills. Take the time to discover the major financial risks in your life and do your best to mitigate these risks and defuse any financial bombs.

Pursue What Interests You. You can’t always have the perfect “job”. However, you can build a base of what inspires you and try to make money at it. Ideally you will find yourself doing what you love and earning a livable income. For the people that find themselves in jobs for the sake of a buck, it seems they are the ones that suffer the greatest financial impact when layoffs occur. My theory is the lack of passion or fluent expertise in their profession limits their ability to leverage their talents into broader opportunities when times are tough. Think of yourself as a business – you need to diversify your talents and skills so you can generate income no matter what hurdles you face in life. Pursuing your passion will make this easier.

Please provide your thoughts on financial independence triggers.