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Jessie’s Excellent Financial Adventure: Striving for Financial Independence

4thofJuly1

If there is one time of the year for celebrating independence, this is certainly it. Summer is in full swing as we fire up the barbecue, jump in the pool, and give thanks for the freedoms afforded to us in this country.

I think independence is something we often forget to think about when it comes to our financial lives. We're so busy striving for the right job, the right house, or the right car that we forget how important it is to try to protect our own personal financial independence.

Just like other freedoms, financial independence seems to matter most when it's taken away. I've been thinking about what I would do if I lost my job. Not because I think I will (yikes), but because I've been crafting my financial future and I realized that something like losing my job would really compromise my personal financial liberty.

I should have a plan, given what the job market has looked like since I entered it. My working life has been punctuated by bursting bubbles-the tech bubble, the housing bubble, and the near collapse of Wall Street. My friends and family have lost jobs, or been forced to keep them. An entire generation of people has been forced out (the young) while an entire generation has been forced back in (the elderly) .

As I thought about it, I was reminded of a line from Making a Life, Making a Living , by Mark Albion. Albion's book is about getting what you want out of your career. But he also says this:

We may not be able to control many forces of employment, but we can control our own employability by being flexible and focused. Being flexible means lowering your walking costs. It means being careful not to build a lifestyle or expectations that make a transition difficult.

In a way, his point is about being financially independent. Once you get used to a way of living, a way of doing things-having a lot of stuff-it can be hard to walk away (or be forced to walk away).

There's a reason that it's challenging to keep walking costs low. "Keeping up with the Joneses" is an undeniable part of American culture, and it's easy to feel the pressure to consume when your friend buys a new car or an awesome gas grill for his Fourth of July party.

But as the past few years have proved, keeping up with the Joneses can force you into a situation where you can't keep up with your bills after you lose your job.

So, where to go from here? I'm making a commitment to myself this Independence Day to try to keep my walking costs low-keep a lid on spending, minimize debt, save aggressively and invest conservatively. I'm going to keep my financial life as liquid and flexible as possible, so I'll have the freedom to walk away or bounce back if I need to.

Now, I'm not there yet. I need to re-align my budget and financial goals to match my new approach, but I'll get there eventually. My next task (and the topic of my next blog post) is figuring out how to build an emergency fund so if I hit a bump in the road, I'll be able to stay financially independent.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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