[The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.]
To me, financial empowerment means freedom, expressed in three ways:
(1) The freedom to have balance.
I know I know, I am supposed to be balanced and put “the right things” first no matter where I am at financially. We try to take cheap family trips. Even though I work a lot from home, I try to do it when Max is asleep and Danny is at the clinic (or playing Clash of Clans aka not knowing I exist anyway).
I try not to work too late. I try to spend time every second I can soaking up my two favorite guys. I try to work out and eat right– all that good stuff. But to be empowered financially– to really be strong, ideally, I would have passive income that would allow me to still continue to work hard but only by choice. The rest of my time I would spend with my family, traveling, reading/writing for fun, playing piano/guitar, working on my Mandarin, that kind of thing.
(2) The freedom to control my money instead of it controlling me.
Right now, we really don’t control our money. Anything, literally, anything we have extra goes straight into paying off student loans. Right now that does not feel empowering. It feels like slavery. But I know where it leads and it does lead to freedom.
I just checked– as of today, we have a combined debt load of $591, 564. Our interest alone is a titchy more than $75k which is more than double the amount most folks graduate with. (granted, we both received professional degrees). But still! Its A LOT.
Controlling my money (instead of the other way around) means having the freedom to invest how and when I would like to. I am excited to some day be able to invest in small companies, really delve into real estate investing plus do some fun dreamy things– like buy a beach house in Hawaii. Danny would likely buy a better car. I realize the latter of those things are not really investments but the point is being in control and spending money how I would like to.
(3) The freedom to help others.
I know I know, I should help others no matter what my financial situation is. We pay tithing to our church and give a little extra when we can.
But I want to really be able to help others. I want to be able to help out family members and friends when they’re struggling financially.
The picture above was from a research trip we took after my first year of law school to Uganda. The poverty was truly one of the most devastating things I have ever seen. I hated seeing these adorable little kids dirty and hungry. I want to be able to empower others financially. I don’t know exactly what this will look like, I just know that I want to help and I know that its in my future.
What does “financial empowerment” mean to you??
How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to work?