Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Financial freedom is one of the most talked about, marketed, and analyzed topics of our day. A Google search reveals 64.2 million results on the subject. Sadly, most people have no idea what it means to be financially free. Sure, some may say financial freedom is getting out of debt, while others say it's having a six-figure income. While these are both great accomplishments, they are only pieces of the puzzle as a whole.
The truth is, paying off all of your debt or making millions of dollars a year will only take you so far if your mind isn't right when it comes to money. Bad debt and living paycheck to paycheck are only symptoms of a much larger problem. A change in our financial position has to begin with a revamping of our mindset.
What's the problem with how I think now?
One of the biggest problems for people today when it comes to money is that they have the "get now, pay later" mentality. It's the mindset that stems from a passion of desire, coupled with a lack of self-control and very little knowledge of how money works.
It's the view that exalts materialism and quietly pushes aside the fact that we're enslaving ourselves to creditors. What's worse is we begin to pride ourselves on the acquisition of "stuff" we don't actually own. Soon, we find ourselves burdened by these things because they become constant reminders that we're being bled out financially.
Shouldn't I be able to have things I want now?
Among some of the scariest things I've seen in life is an internet ad that pictured two children with mouth-dropping expressions on their faces and a caption stating, "One great way to get it all.
The brands you want, the payment options you need." This was scary to me for several reasons. The thing that struck me the most was the horrible indoctrination that payment options is something we need. This couldn't be further from the truth. To make things worse, the ad below it called out "Shop Now, Buy Later".
What it's really saying is this: forget about the fact that you don't actually have the money to pay for it now - just buy it and pay us later at a ridiculous interest rate with money we know you don't have. Ads like these are basically encouraging you to postpone the inevitable consequences of making poor financial decisions.
Do you see how ludicrous this thought process is? Do we really know how much our mind plays a significant role in our financial freedom? If drastic changes aren't made, millions of people will continue to find themselves enslaved as a result of their own financial ignorance.
What can I do?
What is the solution to this ever-growing problem? How do we break away from what seems to be "the norm"? Furthermore, how do we run in the opposite direction when everyone else around us is going the other way? A good start is making the switch in our minds. I sometimes compare the typical financial lifestyle with the popular tale of lemmings committing mass suicide as they follow one another over a cliff. Although this is a misconception of the lemming's habitational migration, the analogy is great.
Millions of people are committing financial suicide simply because they're following what they see as normal, acceptable and even admired behavior. What they don't realize is that they are simply following the crowds over a financial cliff. Financial freedom begins with a real knowledge of how money works. We must rewire our minds when it comes to our finances.