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Checklist For Financial Freedom

A truly simple life is a debt-free life — one in which you don’t have to work to pay the bills. This may sound unrealistic in the current economy — but financial freedom is achievable on any income, as long as you understand your true priorities and eliminate money clutter from your life.

Be Clear About What Financial Freedom Is…And Isn’t

Checkmark-Iconfinancial independence doesn’t mean living in the lap of luxury

Xmark-Iconit has more to do with liberty from monetary worries

Checkmark-Iconfinancial freedom means no debt — no credit card bills, car payment, or mortgage

Xmark-Iconfinancial freedom means having a healthy nest egg saved away for emergencies

Checkmark-Iconfinancial freedom means keeping your expenses below your income

Xmark-Iconfinancial freedom means developing a steady habit of saving and investing

Checkmark-Iconfinancial freedom means being frugal and deliberate about your spending choices

Xmark-Iconfinancial freedom means that you don’t have to work to pay the bills

Changing Your Attitude About Money

Checkmark-Iconthe first obstacle to financial freedom is the way we view money

Xmark-Iconas a society, we place a great deal of importance on income and material possessions

Checkmark-Icondebt has become commonplace and even expected

Xmark-Iconthe truth is that money is really nothing but a means to an end

Checkmark-Iconmoney is only worth the non-material things it buys you

Xmark-Iconyou’re financially free if you use your money to buy leisure time, security, and the freedom to enjoy life

Checkmark-Iconmoney is not evil or divine, it is simply a tool

Dealing With Spending Leaks

Xmark-Iconfinancial independence is about making value-based spending decisions

Checkmark-Iconavoid impulsive spending — an financial freedom requires proactive rather than reactive behaviors

Xmark-Iconyou want to make conscious decisions about how to invest your resources — think it through first

Checkmark-Iconclear up any financial disorganization that costs you money — interest charges, late fees, etc.

Xmark-Iconpay attention to where your money actually goes — track every single penny you spend for a month

Checkmark-Iconlook at each expense and ask if you get a tangible benefit from it

Xmark-Iconask if that expense is worth the time you have to spend earning the money to pay for it

Checkmark-Iconif the answer to both questions is yes, great!

Xmark-Iconif not, that may be an expense you could let go of without much pain

Pay Off Your Debts — Now!

Checkmark-Iconlist out all of the balances you owe on every credit card and loan

Xmark-Iconmake note of the interest rate and APR charged by each

Checkmark-Iconpay the minimum on all of your debts except the one with the highest interest rate

Xmark-Iconpay as much as you can afford to on the highest interest rate account

Checkmark-Iconwhen that debt is paid off, apply the money you were paying to the next-highest rate account

Xmark-Iconkeep working your way down the ladder until all your debts are paid off

Reducing Your Monthly Expenses

Checkmark-Icondecide which expenses are necessary and which waste money without giving you any tangible benefit

Xmark-Iconstart first eliminating incidental expenses — sodas, snacks, magazines, Starbucks, etc.

Checkmark-Iconalso consider ways to reduce larger expenses — cheaper housing, give up one car, fewer vacations

Xmark-Icon<30% of your income should be spent on housing, <30% on household, and <30% on other bills

Checkmark-Iconis your money isn’t better spent elsewhere? would you get more benefit from other spending patterns?

Use Credit Cards Judiciously

Xmark-Iconcredit cards can be a great tool for building credit and consolidating expenses

Checkmark-Iconbut when used irresponsibly, credit cards can drive you into debt

Xmark-Iconpay your cards off in full each month to avoid interest charges

Checkmark-Icondon’t use your cards as a quick “loan” for purchases

Xmark-Iconif you don’t have the money to pay the bill, don’t put it on the card — save before making the purchase

Checkmark-Iconbe careful about annual fees for “rewards” cards — you can get cash back and miles for free

Work Toward Cultivating The Investing Habit

Xmark-Iconthe goal is to live comfortably without having to work

Checkmark-Iconcompound interest earns money on both your capital and past interest

Xmark-Iconinvest regularly, putting a set amount away each month

Checkmark-Iconplan to invest for the long run — don’t try to “time” the market

Xmark-Icondiversify by including many types of investments in your portfolio

Checkmark-Iconprotect yourself against loss by spreading your investments around

Xmark-Iconit’s never too late to start — if you started late, try to catch up with extra contributions

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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