When the founding fathers separated the 13 colonies from British rule, they didn't just sit around and wait for it to happen all by itself. They made a plan and issued a declaration. You can use those same principles to free yourself from the burden of debt.
Make the Decision to Be Free
The road towards financial independence requires a few steps. First step: You must make a commitment to do it. Simply making a promise to yourself is likely to only work short-term. So in order to make a long-term commitment to your financial well-being, you have to include action in that decision. For example, if you are struggling to pay off debt, you could remove your credit cards from your wallet and leave them in a secure place such as a safe in your home.
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Find Out Where You Stand
Get a copy of your free annual credit report, and then gather all your bills and bank statements to review. Sit down and create two lists. The first should list your monthly income compared to your monthly expenses. The second should include your assets compared to your debts and liabilities.
Once you’ve created the list, analyze them side-by-side. If your income is less than your expenses, you’ll need work on finding ways to start reducing expenses in order to see a positive change or try to find additional income opportunities.
Understand Your Debts, Assets and Liabilities
The first step to managing your debts, assets and liabilities is understanding them. A good way to think of assets is they have the potential to make you money, while liabilities cost money. For example, a car may have value that can make you money if you sell it, but if it's depreciating and costing you monthly payments, it's not just an asset.
Similarly, all debts do not have to be harmful to your financial well-being. If you're trying to build a credit history, you may actually need to borrow money or put items on a credit card. Rental property payments or small business loan aren’t debts you need to focus on eliminating because they're helping to increase your income.
Set Your Goal
Now that you know where you stand with your finances, you can set goals based on your current situation. This involves reducing debts and ensuring that your monthly income is higher than your expenses. Your priorities can become more focused on the future when you have your debts and expenses under control, like planning for a comfortable retirement or saving up for your dream home.
Whatever your goal may be, write it down, sign your name and leave it in a place where you'll see it often as your own declaration of financial independence.
Make the Tough Choices
Freedom often involves sacrifice. Although your own situation may not be quite that dire, there will still be some small sacrifices to reach your financial goals.
You might have to take a part-time job, cut down on dining out, or skip a vacation this year until your biggest debt burdens are under control. Whatever sacrifices you make, keep in mind that they won't last forever and they'll be bringing you one step closer to financial independence.