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What Is Financial Freedom?: 8 Signs You May Not Be Free

Exactly what is financial freedom, after all?

Being motivated is a great character trait. Everyone wants to be more driven, determined and successful. Making a living is imperative to being a contributing member of society—and receiving a paycheck for your contribution is fun, too. Unfortunately though, being overly ambitious does have one common pitfall: money addiction. The concept is simple: An addicted person is constantly fixated on the next financial goal. That means that receiving the paycheck isn’t as much fun anymore, because the minute it’s in hand, you want more.

So, if not paychecks— what is financial freedom? Good question.

What Is Financial Freedom?

Financial freedom is the ability to choose. That means you can decide what to have for lunch, for example. It means you can choose another doctor, within reason, if you don’t like yours. You can quit your job if someone there is unkind to you because you have enough saved to live on until you can find another job (as well as the skills to land a new gig). You’re excited about achieving your own unique financial goals. You could choose another mode of transportation if your car broke down today. You’re not tied to any unhealthy relationships because you owe someone cash, or vice-versa. You’re optimistic about your future financially, because you know you can change course if something goes awry. These examples don’t assume you always make the right choices. No one is perfect, after all. However, at least you’re free to choose most of the time.

That’s financial freedom.

What Financial Freedom Is Not

You’re not free when you abdicate lifestyle values in order to earn more money. If you’re intent on saving or earning more with no goal in mind, then you may not be financially free. Believe it or not, many wealthy people are not financially free because they either spend more than they make or they allocate an unhealthy amount of emotional energy on the building of wealth.

Signs You Have a Problem

Sometimes, people are comfortably well-off, but still not happy. Are you unsure about your current attitude toward wealth? Is it possible you have a problem? Your answers to the following questions will be enlightening.

  • Are you distracted after work hours by thoughts of potentially earning more? Is it hard to “clock out”?
  • Would you rather have more money than a good experience like a carefree family vacation?
  • Do you use money to control someone who aggravates you?
  • Are you surprised by how defensive you feel when someone asks about your finances?
  • Do you feel resentment toward money? Do you feel trapped by it?
  • Are you unwilling to donate to charities and nonprofits even after your financial goals are met?
  • Does money make you feel inferior to some people, and superior to others?
  • Do you believe that acquiring more money will solve most of your problems in life?

Being too interested in earning money doesn’t make you greedy. It doesn’t make you an addict, either. It may just mean you have a personality quirk to keep in check.

If you find that you consistently are lacking in the ability to feel free and able to make financial choices, especially if you’re trapped by debtors, lenders or creditors, reach out and talk with a counselor who’s on your side.


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