What is financial freedom? I’m sure we all have our different definitions. In a consuption society, there are a few different ways to look at finances and the aquisition of things. Many people think that with a certain paycheck comes a certain lifestyle, not realizing that just because you can afford the payments on those cars, houses and credit cards really means you can’t afford that lifestyle. Just because your paycheck can help you pay interest on something doesn’t mean it’s the responsible way to go. And I often hear people equating that big paycheck to having financial freedom. Well, it’s only financial freedom if you aren’t constrained. And one would argue that lots of required payments in order to keep what you’ve aquired is less than freeing.

I also hear oftentimes that a budget is restricting. I think that the beauty of a budget is that you can make the budget what you want it to be. Want to only spend $50 on your electricity and $500 on eating out? Set the budget and make it work. Tweak the budget later if it’s not working.

I like to see it a different way. While living within ones means with that same paycheck may mean having less things, it certainly means having more freedom. Living a debt free life has been both limiting but also liberating. Why? When you’re finally debt free, so many doors are opened.

You can choose where your money goes based on your own priorities and goals. For hubby and I, it was our choice to buy a fixer-upper and do a DIY renovation. Others would choose to invest another way. The point being that when you don’t have debt, you have freedom. You’re freeing up money paid to interest for other aspects of your lifestyle or hopefully stashing some away for retirement or emergencies.
Your job options change because you don’t suddenly need to keep a huge paycheck coming in just to keep your head afloat. You can choose to keep that job if you want to or like to but you don’t have to. You can start thinking about alternative ways to make money and to leave the rat race if you are so inclined. For us, the compromise for hubby came in a lower paying job that allows him to be outside with fabulous work hours so he has more time to spend with his kids. Once the kids aren’t so little anymore, he’ll still have the freedom to choose what works for him next.

You seek alternative streams of income – if you decide in your life to just spend what you have – no credit cards – and stick to a budget and really dive into a more simple, less consuming lifestyle you’ll begin to find yourself thinking of new ways to make more money. Instead of just charging the new laptop you want – find a way to make up that money through alternative sources. It keeps your financial brain working, and it gives you even more flexibility than you had before. The more money you can make outside of your day job, the less reliant you are on that income and your freedom broadens.

It’s all about a mindset change. Realizing that living within your means and becoming financially responsible is really going to reap great rewards for you later makes a huge difference. New ideas, new opportunities, great changes await.