Financial freedom is one thing people associate with non-working individuals. For the ones who are working, it is presumed that they are financially independent. Or only once you get retired, you will become financially free; this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have.
Financial freedom is not about not needing a job or earning your own money, it is more about being able to make life decisions without being stressed about money matters. While not needing a job or a complete retirement maybe a few years away, here are different levels of financial independence wrt life stages you must aim to achieve;
FOR THE EARLY STARTERS: 20-30 YEARS OF AGE
- Earlier the better, be it working, saving, investing or planning. Say you complete your due courses by the time you are 24 years old and start working immediately, you will be earning quite soon. The biggest advantage is you get to decide where you want to spend your salary.
Also, if you have an education or home loan on you, you can utilize these early years in covering up that loan amount before you start your family and need to handle a different set of responsibilities. Doing so will give you the freedom of spending money at your own will later and not just trying blood and sweat to meet the bare necessities.
- Another big advantage with age group is that if you are stuck in an unfit role or job, you have ample time and opportunities to switch and switch until you feel you have landed at the right place. Once you are a family man/woman, a lot of constraints will act as deciding factors regarding your job. Hence, restraining your financial independence to a great extent.
- Before you hit 40, you also have an option to explore options in your career. Maybe you want to go for an executive MBA or an additional course that upgrades your profile. This is the time you can do I without thinking much about money. Financial independence not only refers to being able to earn as per will but also to be able to spend as per one’s goodwill.
MIDLIFE CRISIS: 40-50 YEARS OF AGE
- While this stage of life already comes with a bag full of worries, responsibilities, future planning, foreseeable expenses and a suppressed scary thought of nearing retirement, you can utilize this phase in reducing your load. If you are under any debt, this is the time you start clearing it and if possible, chunk it totally. These 10 years are the ones you can plan to become debt-free, plan for your child’s marriage and plan for your retirement.
- At this stage, a major expense that stands is a child’s education, apart from it you can channelize your money into clearing-off the debt. It can be home loan, car loan, personal loan etc. this will help you in two ways- liberate you off the burden you have been carrying for years and paying off extra money as interest; Secondly, will help you a lot if you need to take another loan in future (which is not advisable as you would not want your retirement funds going into paying-off debt).
- You can plan your retirement. If by now you have not invested in your retirement funds and you already in your 50s, it is high time that you do so. Channelize your money in a retirement plan and invest in funds that are retirement-friendly.
RELAXED 50s AND ABOVE
- Now that you have entered your 50s, you would want to relax. Physically, mentally as well as financially. Review your savings and investments. If you have planned your cash flow, by now you would have enough money to fund to retirement and other responsibilities like child marriage. You are at your own will to quit your job or continue working. Although, the retirement age is decided by the organization if you want you can always retire early. If you have saved enough money and have financial independence, you can switch to a more relaxed job, provides with work-life balance even if it pays you less. You will be at liberty to switch at your own will.
- Irrespective of timely or early retirement, if you are financially independent, you can quit your job today. Let us say you are 53 years of age, all your responsibilities are covered and taken care of and you have ample savings. you may not realize but you can quit as of today and spend the rest of your life with your family or doing social service or nurturing your long-lost hobby/talent. To some people, it may even come unrealized that they are already at this stage of financial independence and can work at their free will. You might be at a stage that empowers you to fund others or your own passion.
Before you move ahead, stop and think what level are you at, how much more do you need, how many more years do you need to work? Answer these questions for yourself and plan your finances accordingly. Life-stage planning is nothing but defining the levels of your life in achievable goals. Every time you know you have met the target, celebrate and plan ahead.