Becoming financially independent is a hot topic these days. The days where earners could expect to work until retirement age then retire with a pension are long gone. Pensions have all but dried up, and now it is often left up to the worker to manage and plan for their own retirement.
But financial independence doesn’t require being of retirement age. More and more people are beginning to take action at a younger age in order to become financially independent. This means becoming financially secure, no matter your employment status, and having the time and resources to do what you want to do.
There are some simple techniques to becoming financially independent. Most of them are easily actionable by most people, however, some will force you to start changing your mindset about money.
Don’t Save, Invest
This is one of the biggest shifts in your financial mentality that you will need to make. In order to become financially independent, your assets will need to appreciate. If you stick all your extra money in savings, inflation will eventually reduce the value of that money, quicker than interest can replace it.
By putting your money into a mix of stocks and bonds, usually at around a 3-to-1 ratio, you will be able to pull out 4% annually. This means you’ll need about 25 times your yearly income to retire comfortably. Talk about financially independence! While this sounds simple enough, if your annual spending is $50k, you will need roughly $1.25m invested.
Start As Early As Possible
Knowing how much you will need to invest over time, it is far easier to begin at a younger age, in your 20s or 30s for example, than to try to catch up in your 40s. Depending on your calculations, starting in your 30s may only require a monthly investment of $800 or so, while trying to reach that same goal at 40 would require nearly two and a half times as much. This way you are closer to becoming financially independent
Pay Yourself First
Here’s another thing that requires a huge shift in willpower but will severely help you to become financially independent. Most people say that after their expenses there isn’t enough left to save. The wealthiest people in the world got there by being disciplined, and not by saving what’s left after spending, but by learning how to live on what’s left after saving.
Set a goal, whether it’s 10%, 20%, or even 5%, and stick to it. Once you’re paid, move that money into your investments. Then you can evaluate what is left, pay bills, and see if there is any discretionary spending money left.
Leverage Tax Benefits
Many people only contribute what they think “they can afford” to their 401(k) or IRA. But these can help you save twice and become financially independent sooner. If you contribute up to, or close to, the limits for your tax-advantaged retirement account you not only save valuable pre-tax dollars, but you reduce your taxable income. This means at worst, you pay fewer taxes, and at best, a bigger refund once you file your return!