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5 Ways to Protect Your Financial Independence

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

Waving the flag
photo credit: Staff Sgt. Nathan Hoskins

I know that when I hear the phrase “Celebrate Independence Day,” I’m supposed to conjure up visions parades, fireworks, and our the forefathers declaring independence from Great Britain way back in 1776.

But celebrating independence has come to mean much more to me now that we’re debt free except our mortgage.  I’ve tasted the freedom of being out of debt and I’ve made it my mission to teach as many people as possible that they can also celebrate independence.

Start celebrating by following these tips:

Neither a borrower nor lender be.

Stop using your credit cards.  Start digging out of debt.Learn to save up so that you can pay cash for things.  Stop hitting your family up for money.  And don’t enslave others by lending them money.  It stinks to be a grown-up sometimes, but we all need to do it.  You’ll feel enormous stress run off your shoulders as you stop the debt cycle.

Start thinking ahead.

It’s easy to get caught in a paycheck to paycheck life when you’re trying to make ends meet with a family.  We all say that we’ll save for tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes do we?  According to CNNMoney, 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement..   The average American doesn’t even have $1,000 in the bank.   A family crisis, a natural disaster, or a debilitating illness can come at the most inconvenient times and devastate your finances.  If you can’t afford those things now, how will you pay for them when you can no longer work?   Start saving today – even it’s just $20 a week – and you’ll build a greater sense of security.  You won’t have to run to MasterCard to cover your emergencies because you can cover them yourself.  You don’t want to depend on the government to take care of you.  No one wants to a be a burden to their children.  Start planning now.

Learn self-sufficiency.

Teach yourself to tackle DIY projects in your house and yard.  Plant a garden.  Learn to sew. Hone your cooking skills. With each skill you learn, you’ll relieve yourself of your dependence on others.  You won’t have to pay outrageous prices at the grocery store if you’ve grown your own vegetables.  You won’t have to spend a fortune on a minor plumbing repair if you learn how to do it yourself.

Stand up for your consumer rights.

We often automate our lives to the point that we miss out on real savings.  We just “pay the bills” and never question new charges or fees.  We don’t want to rock any boats so we don’t complain about lousy products or bad customer service.  Learn to stand up for your rights as a consumer.  Your money has a way of talking.  Do you want it to say you’re a sucker?  Or do you want it to say you’re a smart shopper?

Protect yourself.

Eat right. Exercise.  Have regular dental check-ups.  Even if you think it costs too much, make sure you have adequate health, home, car, and life insurance.  In the past two months, I’ve had a friend have a major surgery that resulted in having to have blood transfusions, another friend diagnosed with a rare cancer, and I have seen friends and family devastated by unexpected flooding.  None of those people had adequate insurance – and will now be shackled to unimaginable bills at a time when they do not need extra stress.  It may seem like a savings to skip out on these basic things, but all it takes is one bad thing to ruin your finances.

There are no short-cuts to financial independence.  (Believe me, I’ve looked for them!)  Being financial independent means making sacrifices.  And let me tell you, the security you will find is worth every single one.

How will you celebrate financial independence?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas.  She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 7-year-old and twin 5-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.