This blog post was written by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness
Independence has unique context and meaning for each of us. Regardless of what label best fits this particular stage in your life—employee, parent, student, teacher, or traveler—having a sense of financial safety makes a big impact on the quality of our life. We all deserve to feel secure in our financial future.
If you’re feeling anxious about inflation, credit card debt, or even just habits that haven’t served you, financial independence for you might mean alleviating that worry. Here are three (free) resources that can move you closer to financial independence—whatever that looks like, and wherever you’re at.
Build a Budget
We talk about budgeting a lot here at GreenPath: mainly why it’s important and how to build one (the 50/30/20 budget rule is just one common example.) A realistic budget is what allows us to take control of our money and allocate it in a way that aligns with our big picture goals and values. But budgeting isn’t just about creating rigid limitations; it’s about making intentional choices that move us closer to our money milestones and lessen future anxiety.
Set aside some time and take inventory of your income, expenses, and debts. Track your spending, identify patterns, and discover areas where you can trim down on unnecessary expenses. What’s “essential” to you might look different to someone else, and that’s okay. Prioritize what matters most and allocate any extra funds towards savings—small deposits add up over time!
Invest in Financial Education
In school, we learn the basics of geography, algebra, grammar, and social studies, but did you also have courses on how to open a bank account or buy a car? There’s probably a good chance your answer is ‘no.’
Fast forward to adulthood when so many of us are now learning finance simply by doing. There’s nothing wrong learning as you go, but the advent of online education has made acquiring new skills as simple as picking up your smartphone.
When it comes to achieving financial independence, having a solid foundation goes a long way, and you don’t have to spend a lot to learn a lot. Maybe someone in your household is signing up for their first checking account and could use a how-to checklist. Or you’re beginning the process of home purchase and need help navigating the long journey. Wherever your priority lies, be proactive in seeking the knowledge that can move you closer to your end goals.
You don’t have to travel far to find someone with a story of financial struggle—and it’s likely to be a story still in progress considering the current economic climate we’re in. So many of us are juggling credit card statements, auto payments, mortgages, and insurance. And that’s before anything goes wrong.
It’s important to create an emergency fund if you haven’t already (this can be as simple as automating a small percentage of your paycheck into a separate account), but there’s something else that can bring you peace of mind as well: knowing your burden is shared. Whether it’s the father who grappled with crippling law school debt or the woman who battled the costs of cancer, there can be solace in simply knowing that the endings are often better beginnings in disguise.
By tapping into financial resources—either those we’ve highlighted here or others—you’ve taken the first pivotal step towards declaring your financial independence. Stay focused and forgive yourself when setbacks occur. Stay connected with like-minded individuals who can provide support and accountability where you need it. Celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small.
Financial independence is not an endpoint; it’s a continuous commitment yourself to be mindful with your money, prioritize the goals that matter most, and create a life that honors your definition of fulfillment.