Erin Lowry helps millennials get their financial life together through her blog, Broke Millennial, book, lectures, and workshops. She’s a wealth of knowledge about money, relationships, getting your life together, and just about anything you can think of.
We chatted a bit about what it means to make it and how you know you’re there.
What was the moment that you realized that financial independence was attainable for you?
I always remember being on a path towards financial independence. I wasn't really a normal kid in that regard. I've been squirreling away money and tracking my savings since I was about seven and would hide cash in a candy tin in my closet. The vision of what it meant to be financially independent has always been evolving though. At first my goal was to be able to get off "parental welfare" after college graduation and survive living in New York City without ever needing assistance from my parents. After I achieved that goal, I wanted to first hit $100,000 saved. Next, and the current goal, is to have my first million by 35.
Was it when you realized you could afford a coveted item, or when you no longer counted down the days to payday?
May of 2016 I realized that I really could afford to take the jump into self-employed. I had enough saved that I could cover gaps in variable income while I adjusted to being my own boss and I'd built up my business enough that I didn't think I'd have too much volatility.
What was it like and how did you feel at the time?
It felt liberating. I decided to focus on working for a few more months and save even more aggressively before putting in my notice.
What are the top three most important "money moves" people can make when trying to achieve financial independence?
Evaluate your spending patterns: are you really spending on what you value or is there mindless spending you can cut out?
Save and, more importantly, invest consistently: you really need more than just saving. You have to invest your way to wealth as well.
Focus on how to earn more: you'll hear "save, save, save" or "slash, slash, slash" a lot in personal finance writing. I encourage people to focus on how to earn more than to constantly focus on how to slash more out of their budgets in order to save.
Do you think it's important to combine your personal value system with your decisions around money? If yes, how do you do that?
It's a natural fit to marry your values and your financial decisions. It can be argued that you will naturally spend and consume in alignment with your values and perhaps what you think you value isn't actually the case. For example, if you consider yourself charitable but you don't volunteer or donate to charitable organizations, then perhaps you aren't as giving as you think.