I come from a financially focused family – and I don’t mean it in a positive way.
I grew up convinced that external rewards, such as money, status and looks, were the key to happiness. You can only imagine how relieved I felt when I recently realised that I was wrong the whole time. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that extrinsic goals do more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the importance of income. In my book, money means security and freedom. Believe it or not, there’s a measurable link between money and happiness and it’s a great deal stronger for poorer people, whose needs for shelter and safety aren’t met.
Inversely, richer people lead overall healthier, happier lives – they can afford access to better healthcare, nutrition and education, leading to more successful outcomes. However, it’s also been demonstrated that, as people’s economic fortunes dramatically improve, their reported happiness levels don’t budge.
The bottom line is that financial freedom, or at least some basic monetary stability, is crucial to our physical and psychological well-being. As a woman, it has been ever more challenging to accept the full responsibility for my future – but once I did, a great sense of empowerment followed.
Women live longer, yet earn less. Our careers are often interrupted by prolonged periods spent caring for others. Last but not least – from my experience – we often lack the courage and confidence to take matters into our own hands. We rely on our fathers and husbands to make decision and provide for our needs.
Again, I come from a family, where every cent spent is a cent tracked. And while there’s nothing wrong with being conscious about our spending strategies, I felt powerless, out of control and forced to follow someone else’s rules.
Now that I’m finally at the point of reaching financial freedom, I’m also realising that – the same as with happiness – no two definitions are alike. We all have different priorities, aspirations and passions and, what’s more, they all evolve with time and gained experience.
I fact, my current vision of financial freedom is vastly different from what I used to believe. My very first idea, supported by a very entry-level salary, consisted of buying a crazy expensive pair of shoes – just because I could. And although I still dream about those Valentino pumps, my new scenario is far more complex.
- I want to build a home for myself – a sacred space I know is mine and where I make all the rules.
- I want to swap my newly purchased studio for a bigger space and grow my properties into investments.
- I want to travel, near and far, without having to worry about money or getting back to work.
- I want to invite my friends out for dinners and be the person who pulls out the credit card saying “my treat”.
- I want to have savings, so I can control a potential crisis situation or make a difficult choice, like a career change.
- I want to study, learn and grow. I want my passion and my career choice to finally align again.
- I want to possess the knowledge of how to respond to financial questions about my future.
- I want to learn to live within my means and splurge on little luxuries, once in a while.
Finally, I want to stop looking at people through their social status and economic success and start noticing their integrity, values and actions instead.