What I Want

moneytreeA money tree would be nice, right? Recent events have reinforced me opinions on financial independence. Not financial security, I’ll get to that in a minute. Financial independence is not something I was taught. I’ve had to learn it the hard way. It goes hand-in-hand with work ethic and job stability and budgeting. All of these things work together, if you do it right.

This is how it should work. You grow up seeing your parents work hard and take care of all their responsibilities and live productive happy lives. You get an education and find employment doing something you enjoy and make enough coin to take care of all of your responsibilities and live a productive and happy life. Your children grow up watching you and learning the same lessons you did. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

In case you haven’t been playing along, I grew up watching my parents constantly argue over money. There was never enough. It never got spent in the right way. We didn’t know when more was coming. These are the lessons you don’t want to learn. It wasn’t until I was grown, married and divorced that I learned how to live on a budget.

Budgets are easy concepts, really. Total all of your necessary expenses. Subtract that from your net income. The difference is hopefully a positive number and it’s what you get to play with. If it’s negative, then you need to reevaluate your expenses and your source of income. We waste tons of money on fast food and stuff we don’t need. Eliminate that stuff and then see what’s left. If you’re still in the red, you may need to find a better paying job or a second job. Not an easy thing in today’s job market.

Now here is the tricky part. You need to be able to do this without relying on your parents, grandparents, third cousin twice removed or whomever to bail you out when you get overdrawn yet again. Don’t let the bail-out become a habit. Each of us needs to be able to stand on our own and manage our own money independently without needing a knight in shining armor with deep pockets. It doesn’t matter what gender, race, sports team, hair color or anything else you are, learn how to manage money and live on your own. That’s financial independence.

Knowing that you have financial independence is how you build financial security. That feeling of knowing how much you have in savings, that you could survive for at least 6 months if you lost your job, that you’ll have money to live on when you retire to that beach house, that feeling comes from knowing that you have the ability to make money and keep money.

Oh, and check your credit report regularly. Especially if you’ve been in a relationship where money was shared. Those recent events I mentioned? Yeah, my ex-husband never learned those lessons any better than I did. The difference is that he still hasn’t learned them. I had yet another call this week from someone looking to serve papers on him. I may go ahead and change back to my maiden name after all.

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