Ester Ochse, Channel Head of FNB Financial Advisory, says “Financial independence is the ability to live a financially independent life that neither relies solely on debt as a form of survival or living expenses. The main reason most people grapple with the concept of financial independence is because of a lack of discipline. The National Savings Rate shows that South Africans prefer to spend rather than save and people over extend themselves in as far as credit is concerned.”
“There’s no truth in the belief that you can only achieve financial independence when you are wealthy, it all depends on developing good money management skills.”
In order to see the full worth of your money, you must manage whatever little you have prudently on a consistent basis. Achieving financial independence is an ongoing process; it’s a behaviour pattern that must be practiced consistently.
Here are some tips for achieving financial freedom:
Avoid using debt to fund your lifestyle
Never use debt to fund your lifestyle; the use of credit to fund a particular lifestyle will only move you backwards. Only fall on debt when you absolutely have to and also make sure you understand the impact of the debt on your finances over the long-term. Make both medium and long-term commitments to rid yourself of debt.
Conduct a careful analysis of where most of your money is spent and you may notice there are expenditures that are unnecessary and can be removed from your list. This is all about gauging what’s important enough for you to spend your money on. If you are spending money on things that have no direct benefit to your financial wellness then you will never realise financial freedom.
Save and Invest
Start a savings and investment plan that will cater for your financial needs both over the short and long term. By putting money aside you are letting your money work for you instead of just spending it compulsively.
Examine your financial decisions carefully
Before making any financial commitments look at your financial situation holistically, for example, instead of buying something you really want on credit, rather save for it. Remember that if interest rates increase you may end up paying more to settle that debt. It’s better to save for the items you want to buy, it’s delayed gratification but much cheaper.
Staying financially independent is an ongoing process, even after you have realised your goal of financial freedom, you need to ensure it stays that way. Ensure that you stay abreast with economic conditions and how they affect you personally. Your financial needs will change according to your life stage; ensure that your finances are also modelled according to the stage of your life.
“A mind-set change is the first step, you must change the way you perceive money and what you aim to achieve with whatever amount you earn,” adds Ochse.