financial freedom for 20-somethings
I got a business degree, interned 3 times in accounting, worked in and currently work in finance, yet i’m still figuring out how to handle my own finances effectively. Because I wasn't born into generational wealth, personal financial discipline does not come naturally to me.
I currently work at Ralph Lauren. It's ironic because growing up, I could never even afford Ralph Lauren clothes. I hated not being rich. I felt like I had been cursed to a life of not being able to do everything my soul wanted to.
Fast forward to college. When I received refund checks or internship paychecks during the summer, I’d frivolously spend my money (usually on traveling or more mediocre clothes) within minutes. I even took out loans solely for trips like a dumbass. The concept of saving seemed like a myth to me.
Post-grad life abruptly brought me back to reality. Of course my spontaneous move to NYC without a job was financially challenging. The biggest surprise for me, though, was that securing a great full-time job didn't eliminate monetary stress. I realized that to complete my personal and professional plans, I had to develop financial discipline. I hope that these lessons I’ve learned along my journey help you 20-somethings achieve financial freedom!
1. Re-Programming Your Financial Mind
The obvious advice: save money from each check once direct deposit hits. Yes, it's about accumulating money; however, it's also about learning to resist impulses. If you force yourself to automatically operate as if you make $200 less each check, you will program yourself to build wealth like a machine. Consistency Breeds Change.
2. Goals & Sub-Goals
Set your long-term financial goals for the next year or 2 or 5. A big move? Buying a house? When you set a lofty goal and formulate a long-term plan, you’ll feel inside that your vision is already real. The limits of your finances, though, will require you to sacrifice in order to reach these goals. There will be many pairs of shoes that you can't purchase. It sucks; bills suck.
To work through this, set your sub-goals— the short term plans necessary to gradually culminate into your long-term vision. To get started, budget out your next 3 or 4 paychecks. Having short-term objectives to focus on in the present helps direct your energy productively. But get used to making choices outside of your comfort zone, because the temptation to impulsively spend money will always be there. Remember though, Consistency Breeds Change.
3. Letting Yourself Be Still
This one has been my biggest focus this year, because it's my biggest problem area. Get used to being still. Rather than rushing from purchase to purchase and goal to goal, allow yourself to enjoy the moment with which you've been blessed. Be patient. Don't obsess over all the things you can't afford right now; just enjoy everything that you can currently afford. Use your finances as your muse through which to practice calm stillness in all areas of your life. Stillness breeds inner-freedom.
4. Practicing Gratitude
Not being born into wealth can be very discouraging. One time in high school, I had a breakdown and threw a tantrum at my mom because I was jealous of my rich white classmates' cars and mansions. I felt worthless and hopeless, representing financial imprisonment as opposed to freedom.
Money is merely an external object. Feelings come from within, not the exterior. Don’t let money affect your happiness or love any more than you should let anything else. Be happy for no reason; be happy simply because you are alive. Appreciation breeds inner-freedom.
5. Investing in Your Future
How are you investing your time to create positive future financial returns? This could be paying for a class to master your talents, investing in the stock market, or even just working on your character. We tend to feel that money is our most valuable resource, when really it’s time. Even investing in the stock market is a form of investing one's time wisely. Think of this moment as $5,000. What will you do with it to turn it into a future $5 million?
In summary, slow down. We all have financial goals, but stop rushing. Racing to a finish line of millions will make you forget to love countless blessed moments. Don't let your financial dreams blind you from the beauty of the dream you're currently living. Financial freedom is not having enough money to do anything; it's letting your soul live freely regardless of your current price tag. Adopt that mindset and watch your wealth gradually multiply.