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Financial Intelligence is awareness. Knowing the basics before trying to control them. Do you know what’s your Net Worth? Do you know what’s your Cash Flow? Your Incomes? Your detailed Spending? Do you know what are the interest rates of your liabilities? Do you know your actual hourly wage?
It seems it’s the simplest step one can do, but actually, very few financially-in-trouble people do it. It takes willpower and/or desperation to make the first step. It also requires some knowledge.
Financial Integrity means taking actions. Once you have a good picture of your situation, it’s usually easy to find and grab low hanging fruits. So, strategies like cutting superfluous expenses come natural and they are easily implemented.
What will happen when you start taking action is that you better define your values. You understand easily that you need to spend less than you earn if you want to get back in financial shape. To do that, you either earn more or spend less (or, better, both).
You may be enjoying the freedom not having to think about next paycheck brings to your life and start saving, building an Emergency Fund. Eventually, when you have enough cash to survive a year (people recommend 3-6 months) without working, you’ll stop hoarding cash and start investing and/or paying back your debts, sending your money to work for you thanks to the immense power of compounding.
You may also work on the earning side of the equation: once you ‘stash a year of salary you may consider working part time and take some classes or learn a new skill or start a side gig to boost your earnings. You may realize your commute takes too much time and it’s costing you a lot of life energies (opportunity cost) and living far from your office is not worth the few bucks you’re saving.
Financial Independence means tasting freedom. You no long have to work to maintain your lifestyle, since your money are working for you instead. Your passive incomes (like stocks appreciation, dividends, rental properties income,…) cover your living expenses and you’re free to choose what to do.
You may keep your current job, try a different career, go back to school, take entrepreneurial steps, work less, work none. You may have dreams you want to follow, people you want to take care of. It’s really up to you. You’ve got freedom.
Freedom here stands for freedom from selling your time for money. You no longer need it. You’ll rely on your passive incomes robustness, like betting on average market returns of 7% per year (inflation adjusted) on the long run or a combination of good tenants, rent/house appreciations and low vacation rate for your rental properties.
Financial Freedom means removing money from the equation.
True financial freedom is when you have almost military grade security measures against unplanned events. Rock solid financial integrity with a monthly budget well beyond your most desirable spending regime at your safe withdrawal rate. Or, equivalently, a withdrawal rate of 1% or less at your current spending regime.
No economic event in the foreseeable future (excluding catastrophes, world war or a sudden depletion of earth resources) can put your plan at risk.
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