What Does Financial Freedom Mean to You?
By Steve Gillman
When you hear the expression "financial freedom,"
you might think of having unlimited money, or at least enough
money for all the things you want to have. A more modest definition
is having enough money and/or assets to provide a lifetime income
at a level which provides a comfortable life. In other words,
you have enough so you no longer need to think about making money
if you choose not to.
That sounds good to me! That kind of financial freedom certainly
has its appeal. But this short essay is not about that - at least
not only about that. I have a broader concept of financial freedom,
in which money buys not only more money, but more actual freedom
of choice in most areas of life. In other words, the use of money
to provide more freedom, and not just the freedom from needing
First of all, there is freedom and there is freedom
and ... well you get the point. There is more than one kind.
The kind that is internal, the freeing of one's self from the
ego and the nonsense that is created in our minds - that one
will be left for another time, and perhaps another website. Money
only helps with that as far it can buy some good lessons and
time to reflect on higher truths (but it can at least do that).
There is also a kind of freedom that is about what you can
get and do in this world. Your options are limited in any country
if you can't pay the rent to get off the street and into an apartment.
Health too, can be improved greatly with the wise application
of money, starting with better foods. The more money you have
the more options you have to buy all kinds of goods and services,
meaning the more freedom you have of this type.
Then there is political freedom. That is certainly something
that can be bought with money. Just ask anyone who has used what
money they have to escape an oppressive regime and move to a
freer country. And that's just on a personal level. Money also
can be used to promote the ideals of freedom in the political
Many times the various types of freedom are mixed in a given
circumstance, and yet are all enhanced with money. For example,
if you have enough money, you can afford to buy an illegal drug
that will help with your glaucoma or diminish the side effects
of chemotherapy. That same money helps protect you from legal
persecution by governments, because you can afford a good attorney
or you can move to a place where your actions are legal.
Expanding the Possible Through the Careful Use of Money
The example above hints at the approach you might want to
consider if you want your money to create more freedom in all
areas of your life. It is to look at what you really value and
finding ways to arrange things so that you can continue to pursue
and enjoy those values. Money can be a great help here.
Beyond having money in the bank or in investments so you can
buy things in the future, why not use it to buy circumstances
and surroundings and options conducive to maintaining your highest
worldly values? A second passport, for example, along with a
residence in that second country, allows you to avoid economic
or political upheavals that might limit your freedom. A second
identity allows you to blog about whatever you want in whatever
country, without facing repercussions from oppressive political
The requirements for freedom (in its widest context) are necessarily
different for each of us. If you want to speak the truth at all
times but doing so will hurt the value of your company, it may
be time to sell out and find a better way to create an income.
If you have been unfairly targeted for prosecution for a crime
you didn't commit, you might need to arrange to have your wealth
abroad and to be able to travel. If you just want to be free
of family drama your money can put some distance between you
and your loved (but irritating) ones.
If you want to write a novel but the time spent managing your
money prevents it, you don't have the kind of financial freedom
that I'm talking about. The point is that freedom from a job
is not the only important value here. Why not give some thought
to how to use your money to provide more of all the aspects of
freedom that matter to you?