How to Achieve Financial Independence

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on October 8, 2007
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debt.There can sometimes come a point — every few years in my case — where you suddenly realize that your credit card balance is unmanageable and insurmountable…your interest rate, criminal…your goose, cooked.

It has happened twice before in my case and, both times (I’m incredibly ashamed to admit), my parents and grandfather have bailed me out. Well, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. I’ve since moved out, gotten married, and racked up more debt than I ever have before. Having recently resigned from a full time job to pursue the freelance lifestyle, I’m scared shitless.

I’m thinking it’s time to re-read Joe Dominguez’s & Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life. An oldie (1992) but still-relevant goodie, the authors of this volume have lofty aims: to guide their readers on an intensive quest for financial independence while simultaneously changing their materialistic mindset and, eventually, their entire lifestyle.

I must admit, upon my first read of this book, I skipped step one, went staight to step two, and then fizzled out. Because, when it came down to it, I couldn’t decide on a higher priority: less anxiety over my finances or, um, having pretty things.

To quickly gloss over the steps, you should be finding out how much you’ve earned over the course of your life; keeping track of the money that come in and goes out; and figuring out the levels of life fulfillment you’re experiencing in relation to the money you’re making/spending and the hours you’re putting in.

This last is a topic that especially interests me. For the past few years, I worked a 35-hour-a-week marketing job at which I became more and more miserable. For a variety of reasons, I found myself dreading my day-to-day. I was also wiped out from both the commute and feelings of demoralization and, as a result, was not devoting enough time to my own interests. Despite a good rapport with the majority of my colleagues, I think it’s safe to say that the money I was making was not enough to justify what I was putting myself through.

Since resigning, I’ve been working over 40 on-site hours a week at several places, and also putting in additional hours at home with whatever freelance work comes my way. My schedule is hectic as all heck. I never see my husband. I sort of miss my mommy as well. But, for the first time, it all feels worth it.

Now if only I could get my finances in order.

So it looks like I’ll be reading this one again.  This time I solemnly swear to:

  • make a thorough sweep through my past statements of earnings, income tax returns, checkbook records, bankbooks, and more in order to get a spot-on picture of the amount of money I’ve earned over my lifetime, and (somewhat depressingly), what has become of it.
  • painstakingly track all of my monetary transactions, simultaneously figuring out the amount of life energy I’ve spent on each.
  • determine my main spending categories, and take a good, hard look at how important those categories really are to me.
  • and, um, become magically responsible.
  • I mean, follow the rest of the nine steps in this book, and eventually achieve financial independence.

Do I hafta give up my self-help book habit?


2 Responses to 'How to Achieve Financial Independence'

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  1. JACK CORNISH said,

    This book sounds like a must have…

  2. Alicia said,

    This book rules my world. I haven’t actually done any of the steps…yet…but just reading it and hearing the stories of people who made the decision to put a value on their time and not let money trap them into bad decisions was truly inspiring.

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