Friday, June 10, 2011

Financial Freedom

Most people might be surprised to hear that Matt and I believe that we have financial freedom. A year ago, I left a job that provided half of our annual income, and even though we've spent the last 12 months on a take-home salary that barely breaks $30,000, I do not feel bound by our income in any way.  We thought it would be a struggle, but we are so happy with our life and we live in complete abundance. People keep asking me how we're doing it. Well, I'll tell you....

Livin' it up in 800 square feet.
In May 2009, we saw a house for sale in our town. It was beautiful and very tempting. We took a flier, decided we could easily afford it, and called the realtor. But then we talked about how buying this house might fulfill our dream of owning a beautiful home but it would destroy our dream of the lifestyle we wanted to have inside it. So we canceled our appointment, tore up the flier, and decided that we would pass on one dream to fulfill another. So we stayed in our little farmhouse, and when we had a baby a year later, I was able to stay home like I always wanted. And that was the beginning of our realization that we actually have a lot more financial freedom than we think.

If you start asking people what it means to have financial freedom, you will probably hear a lot of responses about being able to do and buy whatever you want. Therefore, if you aren't in a position to do and buy whatever you want, then you must not be financially free. I disagree. Very few people in this world have the financial freedom to do whatever they want. But we all have the freedom to choose not to do things that don't realistically fit into our budgets. For us, financial freedom is just as much about choosing not to buy something as it is about choosing to buy everything. Every time we are faced with the opportunity (or temptation) to purchase something, we exercise our financial freedom as we decide whether or not to buy it.

I've been waiting to use this picture!
Sometimes we look at a potential purchase and think, "we can't afford that." But that's not true at all. We have credit cards. We have a savings account. We technically do have the ability to buy whatever we want, we just choose not to do that because being debt-free is more important to us. When we make our financial choices from that perspective, we feel empowered by the money we have rather than hindered by the money we don't have. Instead of constantly trying to get more, we've decided to focus on being happy with less. And because we are happy with less, anything extra - like an occasional dinner date or a new outfit - seems like an exciting treat instead of something we do all the time. Since we are motivated by saving instead of spending, we actually want to make less expensive choices.

So that's it. That's the secret. It's all about attitude. It's our attitude - not our income - that allows me to stay home. It's our attitude - not our income - that allows us to live without debt. And it's our attitude - not our income - that gives us our financial freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on being triumphant against financial struggles, Lisa. I agree that attitude is the main key to avoid debt and struggling financially. The way you guys handle your expenses is something a lot of people should really follow. Being reckless with money easily snowballs into a world of problem. Before you know it, you're under a lot of debt. Best wishes to you and your family! :)

    Era Kehoe