Opinion | The nine levels of financial freedom you must aim for3 min read . Updated: 09 Jun 2019, 05:44 PM IST
The concept of financial freedom need not be associa-ted with early retirement only
Most of us associate financial freedom with not needing to do a job for the rest of our lives. But the concept of financial freedom need not be associated with early retirement only. In fact, there are various levels of financial freedom you can achieve over the course of your life. Here are nine levels of financial freedom you should aim for across two life stages.
In your 20s and 30s
When you get to decide how to spend your salary: Getting into a job need not mean that you also have the freedom to decide how you can spend your salary. In most cases, an education loan or family may have a prior claim on a person’s salary. But you can get to a stage when you can cover all that and still be able to spend on more than just your necessities.
When you can quit a toxic job at short notice: The freedom to quit a job you don’t like while being able to manage your expenses until you get a new one is cherished by most. For this, your savings need to get to a point where you can walk away from a job. We are not saying that you quit on an impulse but you don’t have to suffer in silence either. Having invested in achieving skills that are in high demand will help you take this decision.
When you can take a sabbatical: This is “explore my options" saving as against the “walk away" saving we talked about earlier. Take some time off to explore an alternative career, without neglecting your financial commitments over that period. You need to take a call on whether you are going to live frugally or maintain the same lifestyle as when you had a salary coming in.
When you can take a year or two off and finance a passion: When you are able to take an extended period off and not only manage your financial commitments during that period, but also have enough money to spend feeding your wanderlust, pursuing a passion, or starting a business, it indicates you have achieved financial freedom, at least for the time being.
In your 40s and 50s
Becoming debt-free: Paying off your loans is a liberating feeling, especially the loan against the home you live in. Besides releasing cash flow, being debt-free means that no one but you has a claim on your income and asset.
When you are on track for quitting your job by a target date: The retirement date may be defined by law, convention or your own aspiration. You will need to start by figuring out the amount required to help you maintain your lifestyle without an income stream after the target date. At this level, you know that the investments you currently have plus your investing rate will get you to your target amount by your target date.
When your investments are enough to quit your job on your target date: Here, you don’t need to save and invest any more. You just need to earn enough to pay for your lifestyle till you quit. This allows you to switch to a possible lower paying job and improve work-life balance. It often comes as a surprise to many people that they are, in fact, already capable of doing this.
When you can quit your job today: This is when you can give up on the regular salary credits and the investments you have will take care of your lifestyle for the rest of your life. You may already be at this level and not know it.
When you have more money than you need: You can quit your job and your investments will be able to fund a passion—travel, charitable work, or create an inheritance.
Please take a moment to think about where you are in this journey. Every time you achieve a level, celebrate your achievement and set a plan for the next level.
Sanjiv Singhal is founder and chief operating officer, Scripbox