For many of us when we think of freedom, we think about being rich enough to do whatever we want, wherever we want. While that might be great for many, it’s not achieved by the majority. For me freedom is being happy where you are now and having time to do the things you like to do.
My husband and I have only one debt – a mortgage which has a good amount of equity. We earn a very modest income (combined annual of less than $60 000 before tax). We both work part time – intentionally.
We wanted the often talked about ‘work/life balance’ and this was brought into a greater perspective last year. We lost my father to melanoma that metastasised to his spine and brain, while at the same time, nursed my mother who also has cancer, through gruelling, relentless rounds of chemo.
We are a three generation household meaning we live with our adult daughter and my mother. We are only days away from welcoming the fourth generation into our home. We have experienced the cycle of life and death quite swiftly – life is really very short and we want to make the most of it.
We try to take holidays each year – yes they are budget holidays – but we have the time of our lives. Just last year we did a road trip through five states, sleeping in our station wagon and camping in national parks. We waded in the Snowy River and hiked through the snow at Mount Kosciusko and then drove to South Australia to spend a week with friends. We make the most of each holiday and come home feeling refreshed and already planning our next trip.
We live simply so that we can have the opportunity to work only part time. Working part time also makes it easier to help care for my mum who in addition to her cancer, has an acquired brain injury. So while she is somewhat independent, she can not drive and needs assistance with walking on unpaved surfaces and is limited in physical activities. Our part time jobs enable us to balance everything on our plate so to speak.
Free Yourself From Debt
Step one to freedom for us was getting rid of all debt other than our mortgage. If you are consumed by debt there simply isn’t room for freedom. We made poor choices in the past but it’s never too late for change. The easiest way to get out of debt (apart from stop buying crap) is to tackle your smallest debt first, then when that is paid out continue on to the next debt. If you have a credit card with any balance on it – get that paid and either cut it up or at the very least – don’t carry it with you. Ours is for emergencies only – and if it is ever used, we pay it in full before the end of the month. If you don’t have the cash to buy what you want – go without.
Learn To Say NO!
Step two to our freedom was learning how to say no. Really. Being able to say no to others without feeling guilt is freedom on a stick. You could spend your whole life being a yes person and before you know it your life is coming to an end and you wish you could have spent your time doing stuff you really wanted to do. Say no more often and only say yes when it matters.
Get Your Priorities Right
Step three to freedom was to prioritise our lives. We often find ourselves spending far too much time on things that are not important or do not support our intention of having freedom in our day to day lives. Going shopping and buying crap you don’t need isn’t going to help you get out of debt. That’s not to say don’t have fun but choose where you focus your time and money – so that you get the most out of it.
It’s also helpful to list some of the things you would like to do. Now ask yourself why you aren’t doing those things now? It’s up to you to work out why you aren’t doing those things right now. If it’s because of money, then what do you need to do to change that? There is always going to be a bit of work to do in order to get the things you want. The only decision to make is – are you willing to make it happen?