Financial Freedom: Step-By-Step Stages for Goal Setting

financial freedom

I definitely dream of financial freedom. I would love to just have so much money that I don’t have to think about money ever again. Of course, that’s not going to be realistic for most of us. However, we can start small and then go step-by-step to increase how close we can get to financial freedom. A recent Forbes article laid out the 8 levels of financial freedom, which provide a good guide for setting personal finance goals.

Start By Earning More Than You Need

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck then the first step is to get out of that rut. Cut back drastically on spending. Do all that you can to increase income. If you can’t save money then you definitely can’t ever reach financial freedom.

Save Enough Money to Take a Work Break

Most people want financial freedom because they don’t want to work so much. When you’re in that paycheck-to-paycheck phase, it feels like you’ll never be able to stop working. Therefore, the next step is try to save enough money to give yourself a small taste of that life.

For example, create a savings account that will allow you to take a sabbatical from work. Even if you decide not to take it, having the money in that account will make you immediately feel like you have so much more financial freedom. Personally, I love my work, but when I feel like I have to do it just to get by then I start to resent it. That savings helps a lot.

Work Towards Small Luxuries and Extra Savings

Once you have enough in savings that you feel like you can breathe, it’s time to start thinking about your daily life. Financial freedom means that you’re able to buy the things that you want. Of course, I don’t think it’s useful to just splurge on a lot of unnecessary spending. However, I do think it’s good to recognize what small little luxuries will make your daily life better. The goal at this stage is to balance your income and spending so that you get to enjoy those luxuries regularly while still setting aside savings from every paycheck.

Financial Freedom: Money or Time

The Forbes article says that “freedom of time” is the next level. I actually think this is super important. I consider it to be one of the first steps, prioritizing it over a work sabbatical or those small luxuries. However, everyone has different needs and desires when it comes to financial freedom. For me, freedom of time means that even though I work a lot, I’m able to do so on my schedule. I’m also able to be location-independent. Those things make me feel like I have the freedom that I want.

Plan for Retirement

Once you are living comfortably, it’s definitely time to think about setting aside money for retirement. After all, that’s when you’re really going to need financial freedom. Forbes breaks this down into two levels. First, save enough for a decent basic retirement. Then, once you’ve achieved that, start saving for the type of retirement that you really want to have.

Of course, life happens, and we can’t always work through these steps in a linear fashion. Nevertheless, they provide a great guideline for some basic goal setting with financial freedom in mind.

Read More:

How to Fix Your Credit: A Key to Financial Freedom

fix your credit

When you fix your credit, you are one step closer to financial freedom. But, how do you do this?

Credit comes with its many benefits and of course its negatives. It takes careful, responsible spending and timely repayments in order to really see its positives and not experience its dark side.

Those in need of repairing their credit know how difficult it is to be approved for loans, receiving lower rates and getting ahead. But, there is good news. You still have hope and can fix your credit.

Fixing your credit can help you get closer to financial freedom. Here are some great tips to help you get started:

Don’t stop believing

Continuing with credit seems counter-intuitive, but using credit is a great way to achieve a good score. As long as you pay them back immediately, do use your credit cards. You also want to mix up the type of credit you use (i.e. installment accounts such as mortgages and revolving accounts such as lines of credit). Don’t wait to repay; not only does this harm your finances due to interest rates, but it hurts your score as well. Your payment history is one of the key factors of determining your credit score. You want to make sure you can prove to credit card companies you’re capable of timely repayment in order to improve your rating.

Open a savings account

Opening a savings accounts helps to reach a favorable credit rating. As simple as it may sound, this does show companies that you are financially responsible and have the resources to pay for debts.

Spread out your disputes

You can dispute items from your credit reports. If you do, however, just be sure to spread them out and do one item at a time, starting with the most damaging or largest items first. Disputing too many things at once signals a red flag to the credit bureau, and they could consider them to be insignificant. Make sure to really take time to examine your report.

Keep balances low

This one is pretty simple. Just because you have a $5,000 limit each month does not mean you should reach or max it. Keep your balances low so that they are easier to handle.

Get your monthly report

Tracking your monthly activity with your credit is just as important as tracking your other expenses each month. If something seems off, you will be able to dispute it right away. This is a good habit to develop. It will be a cost to get them monthly, but it will be worth it to keep you on a favorable path. To ensure your report and activities are current across the three major credit bureaus, retrieve reports from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian yearly. Not to mention, you’re able to get one free report from each bureau each year under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, making the cost of credit maintenance low.

Don’t create more debt

If you’ve put yourself in a bad situation with your existing debt, you generally should avoid opening more credit cards or loans to pay off what you have. This can really cause the problem to continue to spiral out of control. Instead, you need to start focusing on ways to reduce this debt in order to fix your credit. On the contrary, there may be times where it is OK to open another credit card in order to generate some positive credit history. A secured credit card, which requires a deposit that serves as your limit, could be the answer for you in those sticky situations. Just don’t sign up for unnecessary credit cards.

Know that this process will take time and dedication before you start to see improvement. There will be a many ups and downs on the road to credit repair, but try not to get discouraged. Make it a priority so that you can work toward that financial freedom you’ve been dreaming about for a while now. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, just take things one step at a time. Create better spending habits in order to ensure you are not in a situation like this in the future.

What steps are you taking to fix your credit? What route has worked best for you?