What is Financial Freedom?

As you know this blog has been inspired by financial freedom. While there are differing opinions about what financial freedom, this article will present financial freedom from my personal perspective.

What is financial freedom to me?

Financial freedom to me is having enough money to live without ever really having to work again. Now this does not mean you never have to work again. Instead it means that you work on your own terms.

You never have to worry about the stress of losing your job. You don’t have to worry about whether you have clients or not. When you are financially free, work no longer becomes a requirement in life but rather a choice.

How would you get there?

There are a number of ways to achieve financial freedom. The most effective way is by building passive income streams. This is done in a few ways shown below.

Have Your Money Make You Money

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Build up enough cash so that it will generate money-almost like planting your very own money tree.

The first way to build a passive income stream is to build up enough cash so that it will generate money. Use your cash to purchase dividend paying stocks or bonds which pay you interest. You could also purchase annuities which would pay you over the life time of the annuity.

For example, if you have $5 million in cash right now you could invest in bonds which pay out 5% a year. Just by having those bonds alone, you will generate $250,000 a year in interest income!

Imagine, $250,000 in your pocket and you don’t have to do anything at all! You can accomplish this with dividend paying stocks as well.

Stocks pay a wide range of dividends, and are not quite as reliable as bonds for paying you out every month.

But stocks do have the advantage of appreciating in value over time, so that when you sell the stock you have a chance to make more money.

I don’t have $5 million to put away, what should I do?

Fair enough. Most of us do not have $5 million in liquid cash at our disposal at any time. So what should you do instead?

Create a Business which Produces Cash with Minimal Effort

While I was writing that subheading, it sounded a tad bit scammy. Just like one of those spam emails which tell you how some guy makes $5,000 a day just by clicking a few buttons.

There are people out there with legitimate businesses that do not require much effort on their part.

They do this by doing one of two things

1)      They automate their business so they don’t have to do most of the work or,

2)      The create a product which they can sell to the masses

In order to accomplish number one listed above you would do a few things. First you would have to build a business up from scratch (if you can’t buy one initially).

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Automating your business by hiring employees is one method you can use to become financially free.

Then you would look to hire employees to help do the menial tasks that you don’t want to do. Then finally you would hire a manager to help oversee the employees and take care of the higher level duties that you don’t want to do.

This leaves you to plan for the future and grow, and takes you away from the day-to-day tasks that you would be doing at any typical 9 t
o 5 job.

For the second item, you would create a product that you only need to create once or can be created by others, and sell it to the masses.

Key Point: Learn How to Separate Time From Money

The key to building a passive income business is separating your time from money. Most jobs will pay you for every hour you work.

It has been engrained in us that we get paid when we work and don’t get paid when we don’t.

What if you did get paid when you didn’t work? How would you like to get paid when you didn’t work? When you are sleeping? When you are on vacation?

If you have an automated business, you will no longer trade your valuable time for money.

There are a ton of ideas to help you build up passive income streams. One of the best books to help you understand the different types of business systems is “The Millionaire Fastlane” by MJ Demarco.

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Check out The Millionaire Fastlane, one of my favorite business books that I’ve read recently

In that book he lays out the “Five Fastlane Business Seedlings” which are business systems which produce passive income for the owner. Those five systems are

  1. Rental Systems
  2. Computer Systems
  3. Content Systems
  4. Distribution Systems and,
  5. Human-resource Systems

If you want to find out more, check out the book on Amazon. It really is a great resource and I would recommend it to any entrepreneur or wantreprenuer looking to get started.

My Top Three Reasons for Wanting to Achieve Financial Freedom

I have told you what financially freedom is to me. Know I want to elaborate on why it is my goal to achieve financial freedom.

Reason #1: I want to have the freedom to do what I want when I want

If I want to sleep in until 12 I can.

If I want to meet friends for lunch on the other side of town at the last second I can.

If I want to go on vacation at the drop of a hat I can.

I would also have freedom to pursue hobbies that you enjoy but would never really make you money.

For example, I enjoy playing basketball and golf. I am not really good at either one of those. I could play those whenever I want.

Reason #2: I want to explore the world

Many folks don’t have to be financially free to explore the world, but I think it would be pretty amazing being able to travel all over without a timeline to get home like you would when you work.

I have never traveled much, and I think it would be great to be able to see the world.

Being financially free would allow me to travel on my own time, and have the money to do so.

Reason #3: Spend more time with those I love

I am personally not a workaholic. I’ll admit it.

I will work really hard doing the job the needs to be done. Once it is complete I go home and do the things that I want to do.

It’s not even that I am lazy, but I just like to enjoy life and do those things that I want to do.

I don’t want to feel obligated to go into some place five days a week for the next 35 years of my life.

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You now know my reasons for wanting to achieve financial freedom. What are yours?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and financial freedom will allow me to do this.

Down the road when I have kids, I want have the ability to spend time with them. I want to be a part of their life.

I don’t want to be at work all of the time and come home and be too tired to spend time with my family.

This is what financial freedom is to me. This is why I want to achieve it. What is financial freedom to you? Why do you want to achieve financial freedom?

Photo Credits (in order)

Flickr/Shari’s Berries, Flickr/Phil Whitehouse, Flickr/Kalyan Chakravarthy

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Free for Five Days: “Get Rid of Debt Forever: A Guide to Understanding and Conquering Debt”

I am making this post to inform you that my first eBook, “Get Rid of Debt Forever: A Guide to Understanding and Conquering Debt” is available for download on Amazon for free for the next five days.

From August 21, 2014 to August 25, 2014, you can have the book sent straight to your Kindle or any other device and it will be completely free. All you have to do is go Get Rid of Debt Forever: A Guide to Understanding and Conquering Debt and click download to have it sent to you today.

This book (along with other projects) has taken up quite a bit of my time. As a result, I have not been blogging as frequently as I would like, and I apologize for that.

But, I have learned a lot in this process and I want to use this blog post to discuss what you will find in my book, why I decided to create this book, and what I learned in the process.

What You Will Find

The eBook I created is a collection of blog posts that I have made on this site, along with a few added chapters not found here, organized and put into one place.

You see, I originally intended on creating a comprehensive guide on personal finance that would be found on this blog. I came up with this idea back in April and it seemed like a great idea at the time, but then I recognized something.

My realization

I realized that I was writing A LOT. And I was only writing on one individual topic which was debt. If I was going to create a comprehensive guide on personal finance, it would take a LONG time.

What I decided to do was repackage these blog posts on debt into an eBook. I was originally planning on giving this eBook away as an incentive for people to subscribe to the blog. Then I changed my mind and decided I wanted to publish it on Amazon, which I’ll get to in a minute.

So I decided to repackage the book, add some chapters and make it more organized, and edit it to make it a little less informal and free from error (at least that’s what I hope!).

Why Did I do This?

I mentioned above that I was going to give this book away as an email opt-in book. There are a couple big reasons why I wanted to publish my eBook on Amazon instead.

Reason #1: I wanted to create my own product

The first reason is quite simple. I wanted to create my own product that I could sell. I wanted a product that has my name on it that I could put out there for people to purchase.

At the end of the day, that is why we are here. I thought it would be great to repackage these posts, make them more organized and better written, and allow people to purchase my product.

What I hope is that people get some great value out of this eBook and that it will help them.

Also, I want to work on some advertising and marketing skills. By creating my OWN product to sell, I can create advertisements to sell something that can give me some sort of a return on investment.

In the process, I will sharpen my advertising skills which will help me dramatically in the future.

Reason #2: I wanted to learn the Kindle Direct Publishing platform

I plan on writing a lot more in the future. This will include many eBooks which I want to sell to help solve people’s problems.

For this reason, I want to learn the process of creating a book and putting it on the Kindle platform. I have learned A LOT in the process. Discover what I learned in the next section of this post.

For this reason, I figured I might as well learn this platform and process now so that I won’t have to face this learning curve in the future.

What Did I Learn From Writing this Book?

Writing is hard. Despite the fact that this is a short eBook, it was still a long process. Creating, editing, and now advertising has proven to be a challenging process.

When writing a book it would seem that writing should take up the most time. Not for me. The thing that took me the longest was the editing and formatting of this book.

It took a while to make sure everything sounded good and the format of the book was good for the Kindle platform. I went through a few rounds of editing with my girlfriend which took a little longer than I was hoping.

Also, creating the cover is another challenging process. Luckily for me, my girlfriend grew up doing graphic design and was able to help create a pretty good looking cover photo for my book.

Creating is fun. I love creating something and putting it out there for all to read. For me, writing is such a rewarding experience. So much that I plan on creating and releasing another book soon.

Staying balanced is hard. I have had to balance writing and editing with my full-time job, along with social media for this blog, blogging, and having a life.

As a result, my blog has suffered. I haven’t written a post in about a month here. It is difficult balancing all of these things but a lot of people do it and I’m not going to complain.

The Most Important Lesson of All

Even if I fail it is okay.

I would be perfectly fine if my book sales don’t take off. Obviously I’d be happier if I made a million sales of course, but if sales fall flat I won’t have any regrets.

What I have learned through this entire process is more valuable than anything. Even if I fail, no one can take away those skills I acquired and the knowledge that I obtained. These skills can transfer over to other areas in my life down the road.

On top of that, I have something to show for my time. Instead of wasting time on TV or fooling around, I have an actual product that I can point to and shows what I did.

Finally, if I didn’t try, I never would have learned anything new at all.

Takeaway

Writing a book is fun. I recommend anyone try it out. It’s not easy by any means and it takes time and it probably won’t be worth it money-wise. But the experience you gain will be completely worth it.

Once again, you can get my eBook “Get Rid of Debt Forever: A Guide to Understanding and Conquering Your Debt” completely free on Amazon for the next five days. Click the picture below to check it out!

I would love to hear your feedback, so if you could leave a review on Amazon I would greatly appreciate it!

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From August 21 to August 25 you can get your copy of my eBook completely free!

Invest Today! What You Need to Know Before Investing in Stocks

Are you interested in investing in the stock market? Of course you are! In this article I am going to give a brief overview on certain things you should understand before you jump in and start buying stocks.

First things first, if you are trying to make a quick buck off the stock market, you should probably stop right now. Many people do not immediately make a lot of money by investing in stocks. In fact, many beginners end up losing money because they don’t have the patience. It takes a while for your money to grow. Unless you are able to invest a huge amount of money, you aren’t going to be able to make a significant amount of cash in a short period of time. Playing the stock market requires patience, smarts, and a little bit of risk tolerance. As long as you remind yourself of this, you will be better off than most people out there.

Next, it important to understand the financial statements of a company. If you don’t understand how to read financial statement I would definitely recommend you start by reading my prior post, “A Quick Overview on How to Read Financial Statements”. It is vital that you know what revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, and stockholder’s equity are. These are the backbone to every company’s financial statements. It is these items which ultimately determine how attractive a company is to you.

Financial ratios are also extremely important when you are trying to decide whether or not to invest in a company. There are a huge number of ratios out there that investors use to understand a company. Financial ratios are a fundamental part of the analysis of financial statement data. These ratios take the information found in financial statements and give meaning to the numbers. Examples of financial ratios that are used heavily in making investment decisions are the current ratio, debt ratio, and free cash flow.

If you are a beginner and you want to invest right now, I would suggest you look into stock indexes, ETFs, and Mutual Funds as a place to put you money. These funds and indexes are made up of a large number of companies, and allow you to diversify you holdings while keeping you risk low. You are not subject to the risk of losing everything if a company goes under because there are a huge number in these funds. Examples are the S&P 500 (.INX), SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), and T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth Fund (TRBCX). If you choose to go this route, you must once again keep in mind that you are in it for the long haul. I would suggest you choose your fund carefully and don’t even look at it for the first few weeks. It is very easy to panic and sell of your holdings early on, especially if the market is having a down day. I can’t stress this enough.

This was a quick overview of what you should understand before you jump into investing stocks. If you have a friend who is a beginner please feel free to share this article with them. Happy Investing!

A Quick Overview on How to Read Financial Statements

If you want to invest in stocks and understand companies, you need how to understand how to determine the financial health of a company. You see, companies are just like people. They pay taxes, some die young, and some seemingly live forever. By understanding how to read a financial statement, you are a doctor to the company. You will be able to understand how healthy that company is. By determining the financial health of a company, you will know if it is a smart idea to give them your money.

Let’s start off with the financial statements of a company.

The first thing you must understand is a company’s revenues. Revenues are the amount of money that a company receives for a certain time period. For example, when you go to Starbucks and buy a latte for $4, that money is revenue to Starbucks. This is money that a consumer (you, in this instance) exchange for a product or service. Revenues are at the very top of the income statement. It includes all the money that a company brought from their business activities. When a company is healthy, their revenues grow at a steady pace. A company who’s revenues grow at a rapid pace can be a great opportunity to make big returns, but there is also a risk that the fail to maintain such a steady revenue stream.

The next item is also on the income statement. Net income is the company’s total earnings after taking away expenses. Companies have a large number of expenses, so let’s go back to our Starbucks example above. We already established that when you spend $4 on a latte it is revenue to Starbucks. To arrive to net income you have to take away certain expenses. You must subtract out what it costs Starbucks for the espresso, milk, and syrup used to make that latte. You must also subtract out the cost you pay employees, and any other costs associated with running the company (such as taxes). After you remove these expenses, you arrive at net income. Net income can help you determine if the company is actually making money. If net income is a negative number that means the company is losing money after netting their revenues and expenses. Companies whom consistently have a negative net income are not good investment options. There may be times when a negative net income is not a bad thing, but I will explain that in a later post.

The next item you must consider is a company’s assets. Assets are things that a company owns which will benefit them in the future. Let’s once again consider the Starbucks example above. Starbucks has coffee makers. Those coffee makers are assets to Starbucks because they will allow Starbucks to create a product that will make them money (benefit them) in the future. Assets can be any number of items for a company. Cash, investments, and equipment are all assets that can benefit a company in the future. Assets are important to understand because they will be used in ratios and other metrics used to measure the financial health of a company.

The opposite of assets are liabilities. Liabilities include things, like debt, that you are obligated to pay back for past transactions. You may have friends who use credit cards to buy things, like a brand new TV. As you know they are obligated to pay back the credit card company for that past transaction in which they bought a TV. Companies work in a very similar manner. They borrow money to buy things (assets) which they must pay back at a later date. Liabilities are important to understand. While a liability is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be bad if a company has too much. Having too much debt can hurt a company just like they can hurt your friends. It can get them in hot water if they can’t afford to pay them back. You want to watch out for a company that has a large number of liabilities when compared to their total assets.

These four financial statement items are very important to understand when you first learn how to invest. In part two of this article I will explain some simple ratios you can use while making investment decisions.

(*Quick is a subjective term that I use very loosely here to describe how your money can multiply over a period of time of 25 or more years. I mean really, that’s pretty quick you consider just how old the Universe is.)