Last Updated April 11, 2020
Do you want to be financially free at a young age or in a short period of time? I am a lawyer who attained financial freedom at the age of 33, and I’m here to show you how you can too. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes thinking you can’t do it because you don’t have a high paying salary like a lawyer. But I did not always have a high paying salary.
In fact, I had to live at home with my parents because I was making very little money during my first two years as a lawyer. So, before you dismiss me and think you can’t be financially free, find out what you can do to be financially free even if you don’t make a 6-figure income.
What Does Financially Free Mean?
Being financially free means you can cover your daily needs without having to work for income for the rest of your life. So in other words, being financially free means not having to rely on a job for income. To achieve financial freedom, your assets need to generate income greater than your expenses.
Why Do I Want To Be Financially Free?
When you become financially free, you now have the choice to do things because you want to—not because you need the money. Imagine if you went to work only because you want to and not because you “need this job.” Do you know how much more pleasant it would be to go to work?
When you’re financially free, you can live life on your terms. You can live where you want (because you’re not tied to a job) and you can do what you want. You also have the freedom of time because you don’t have to spend at least 40 hours working for someone else.
In general, here are some reasons why you might want to be financially free:
- You can spend your life doing the things you want to do.
- You don’t have to rely on a job for money.
- You have more time to do the things you enjoy.
- It reduces stress in your life because you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your bills.
So, what are some of the reasons you would like to be financially free? Take a minute and write it down.
- Related Article: Number One Reason Why I Still Work When Financially Free
What Can I Do To Be Financially Free?
Now that you know the reasons why you want to be financially free, you may be wondering what can I do to be financially free? The first step to financial freedom is to become financially stable.
Financial stability means you have enough savings to cover 3-6 months of minimum mandatory expenses. This is also sometimes called an emergency fund. When you have financial stability, you will have the peace of mind that if something unexpected should happen, you will have enough time to recover financially.
How Do I Get Financially Stable?
You become financially stable by having a fully-funded emergency fund. An emergency fund is money set aside to cover large unexpected expenses or to help you through hard financial times.
Before you start to build your emergency fund, you need to have a budget first. Having a budget allows you to see how much your expenses are. You need to know how much your monthly expenses are in order for you to know how much money you need in your emergency fund.
If you’re just starting out, you can download this FREE Monthly Budget Worksheet.
However, if you want to get serious with your savings and need something a little more sophisticated, you can get my Budget Templates.
These templates make it easy to see exactly what percent of your income you’re saving. It also shows you what percent of your money you are spending. This is the template I actually used to save over 50% of my income and it is the same template I use to this date.
Since an emergency can come at any time, it’s very important to have quick access to your money.
Therefore, I recommend you keep your emergency fund in a high yield savings account at an online bank. You get two benefits of banking online:
- They usually pay higher interest on your money than a brick and mortar bank; and
- It reduces impulse purchases because your money is a little harder to access. With online banks, it usually takes a few business days for the money to be transferred to a physical bank where you can withdraw cash.
A good online bank I like is Radius Bank. They offer competitive interest rates, has no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirement after $100 to open. Also, their checking account has free ATMs worldwide.
If you want to learn more about emergency funds, you can read my detailed article titled “How To Build An Emergency Fund.” This article will help you figure out exactly how much money you would need for your personal situation to become financially stable.
How Much Money Do You Need To Be Financially Free?
Financial Freedom is when your investment income can cover all your current monthly expenses. So, how much money you need to be financially free? Well, that really depends on how much your expenses are every month.
A general rule of thumb is you are financially free when you’ve saved 25 times your annual expenses. However, I think you’re financially free whenever your investments are generating enough income to cover your monthly expenses—regardless if that number is less than 25x your annual expenses.
How Does It Feel To Be Financially Free?
Being financially free takes a tremendous amount of stress out of your life. You don’t have the same stresses associated with your job and with money. Again, when you’re financially free, you can do only the things you enjoy doing. If you don’t like your job, you can quit without consequences. You also don’t have to stress about how you’re going to pay your bills every month.
My Journey To Financial Freedom: Physical and Financial Struggles
I had a lot of obstacles to overcome to get to this point—both physical and financial. I battle with sickle cell disease, which is a blood disorder that causes chronic debilitating pain. My health got so bad at one point, that I had to be rushed to the ICU.
During my hospital visit, I developed pneumonia and acute chest syndrome. Acute chest syndrome is a leading cause of death for patients with sickle cell disease.
Besides chronic pain, my sickle cell has also caused financial hardship. I found myself being hospitalized every few months, and it was becoming expensive. With piling medical bills, and my inability to work due to frequent hospitalizations, my credit also suffered. I was at the point that I could not afford to pay my bills.
When I first graduated from law school, I was making very little money—around $30,000 to be exact. With hospital bills, and student loans from both undergraduate and law school, I couldn’t even afford to live on my own. I had to live with my parents just to survive.
Even when I finally started to make enough money that I could move out of my parents‘ house, I was still living paycheck to paycheck. That’s when I realized it was time to get serious about my finances and my health.
I decided to invest in myself and my financial education. I got professional help instead of keep spinning my wheels trying to figure this thing out on my own. I also bought tools to make a budget that FINALLY worked for me. It was the BEST decision I made for my financial future.
I finally saw where my money was going and I made a plan for where it would go in the future. That lead to me being able to pay off my debt and save more money. I also paid to learn from financial experts about making a financial plan, how to invest my money, and grow my wealth. This lead to me being financially free in 6 short years!
If you want to know more details about my financial journey, you can learn more about me on my “ABOUT” page. I promise it’s a good read.
How Can I Be Financially Free If I Don’t Make A Six-Figure Salary?
I shared my financial struggles so you can see that I had to go through a lot to get here. I didn’t always have a high paying job and you don’t need one either to be financially free.
So you may be wondering “how can I become financially free if I don’t make a lot of money like a lawyer?” There are 6 things you can do right now to get you started on your path to financial freedom:
1. Embrace Needing Less
The number one thing you need to do is embrace needing less to be happy. Now, I don’t mean being super frugal, extreme couponing, or eating beans and rice. I mean becoming more of a minimalist.
Minimalism is all about living with less and getting rid of excess stuff. If you require less money to live off of, obtaining financial freedom on a lower income is a lot easier to achieve. You could live off of a much smaller nest egg because you wouldn’t require a great deal of income from your investments.
2. Save Aggressively
If you don’t make a lot of money, you need to save aggressively to achieve financial freedom quickly. What I mean when I say “save aggressively” is saving at least 30% of your income; but ideally, you want to save 50% or more.
In order to save such a large amount of money, you have to get smart with your spending and know exactly where every dollar is going. You also need to cut spending wherever possible.
One easy way to cut spending is to use a service such as Trim. Trim is a virtual personal assistant that constantly works to save you money. They analyze your spending patterns to find ways to save you money, set spending alerts, and automatically fight fees. Trim also negotiates cable, internet, phone, medical bills, cancels old subscriptions, and more.
If you want to learn how you can save a significant amount of money every month, read my detailed article “How To Save At Least 30 Percent Of Your Income Every Month.”
- Related Article: How I Saved $300,000 In 4 Years
3. Get A Budget
A budget can help you track your spending and figure out what areas of your life you can cut back on spending. It is the foundation of any financial plan. Start your journey by getting this FREE printable Monthly Budget or by using my budget templates.
4. Get Rid Of Any High-Interest Debt
Next, you need to get rid of any high-interest debt if you want to be financially free. Having high-interest debt will hold you back when trying to achieve financial freedom.
Since most of your money is going towards interest, and not the principal balance, it will take you much longer to achieve financial freedom with high-interest debt around. Getting rid of this type of debt should be your top priority.
Gather all your debt together, such as your student loans, medical bills, credit cards, tax debt, car note(s), etc. Determine how much you owe and at what interest rate. Write it down and make a list of your debt from highest to lowest interest rate. This makes it easy for you to prioritize your debt repayment plan.
If you need help with your debt repayment plan check out Tally. Tally is an automated debt manager that makes it easy to save money, manage your cards and pay down balances faster.
You can also use an app like Qoins to help you automatically pay off your debt even faster. You’ve likely heard of apps that turn your spare change into investments (like Acorns) but Qoins is an app that takes that change and uses it to pay off your debt.
Qoins will send out payments according to the schedule that you’ve set up. They also track how much you’ve paid out towards your loans and see how much of a dent you’ve put in your debt.
I highly recommend Qoins if you want to speed up paying off your debt while making it as easy and painless as possible.
- Related Article: How To Pay Debt Faster (Even If You Have No Money And A Low Income)
5. Increase Your Income
I hate to say it, but if your income is really low, it’s going to take you longer to be financially free. If your income is low, try to find ways you can increase your income and earn more.
You can get some ideas on how to increase your income by reading my article “5 Ways To Increase Your Income Streams.” The more ways you have to make money, the faster you can become financially free.
Finally, you have to invest your money so it can grow. Saving your money in a bank alone will take too long to grow. If you have a low salary, every dollar you save has to work hard for you. Invest your money so that it makes more money.
I like to invest in things that give me an income and increase in value. Therefore, I invest in things such as the stock market and real estate.
I personally use Robinhood to purchase individual stocks. This website is great because you can buy and sell stocks for free—there are no commissions or fees. Most other brokerage firms charge at least a $4.95 fee per trade, and some have hidden fees.
Sign up today and you and I can get a free stock like Apple, Ford, or Sprint. With Robinhood you also don’t need a minimum account balance, so you can get started right away.
- Related Article: Best Ways To Start Investing For Beginners: Investing 101
My point is, can obtain financial freedom even if you don’t have a 6-figure salary like a lawyer. If you want financial freedom, you need to become more frugal; save a significant amount of your salary; and create a budget.
Try your best to stick to your budget every month. Finally, you need to increase your income; get rid of any high-interest debt; and invest your money to supercharge your progress towards financial freedom.
I didn’t always make a good salary (even as a lawyer) and had to find ways to turn my situation around. You can read my full inspirational story of how I went from ICU to a successful lawyer and entrepreneur here. Follow these tips and you will obtain financial freedom sooner than you thought.
- Net Worth By Age: How Do You Compare?
- Step-By-Step Plan Every Beginner Needs For Financial Freedom
- How To Change Your Money Mindset So You Can Have Money
If you want to remember this article, pin it to your favorite Pinterest board.