VENTURES AFRICA – Financial freedom is a familiar word with the young and aspiring entrepreneur or career professional. The principle of achieving financial freedom is surprisingly very simple; just make your income supercede your expenditure; this requires a lot of discipline though.
The reality is that a lot of middle and low income earners are in debt, living from hand to mouth. If this describes your situation, to achieve financial freedom you need to find a way to reduce your expenses and pay your debt. The secret to living debt-free is not getting enough cash to pay off your creditor(s) but to change your spending habbit, otherwise, you would be back in debt. This is the hard part and it requires a lot of discipline. Thoroughly go through your daily expenses, especially those that have to do with transportation, feeding, shopping and entertainment (they consume a huge chunk of earnings), and see if you can find cheaper alternatives; you could try eating out a lot less and cooking more or stocking your kitchen all at once, that way the foodstuff come cheaper; taking public transport instead of taxis, etc. These are very tough decisions but you need to face the facts that your earnings cannot sustain your lifestyle. When these inconvinienting adjustments have been made then you are sure you would no longer sink deeper into debt.
The next thing is to plan the total pay off of your debt and climb out of debt.
You probably already know and have heard a billion times that saving is crucial to achieving financial independence. The question is, do you save? And how much of your income do you save? Many have proposed saving 10 percent of income but is this really sufficient? Two major purpose of saving is to have a cushion to fall back on in the advent of an emergency like a job loss and to have sufficient funds to carry out personal projects. Say you earn 200,000 naira ($1280) per month and you save 20,000 ($128) per month, in twelve months you would have 240,000 naira ($536) in your savings. If you were to lose your job after a year (nobody wishes for this but it does happen), the amount in your savings would sustain you for a little over a month and if by then you do not have a job, you would be flat broke. Compare that to saving 40 percent of 200,000 naira – 80,000 naira ($512) per month. If you lose your job in twelve months, you would have 960,000 naira to sustain you for almost a year! Enough time to secure another job and enough funds to start or invest in a business. If you saved 80,000 naira every month for five years you would have 4.8 million naira ($31,000).
A 40 percent income saving seems impossible but it is doable; few individuals even exceed this target; it is possible to make that 40 percent income savings. If after trying unsuccessfully to secure a job for months, you eventually got a job that paid you 60 percent of what you currently earn, you probably would accept the job and still survive!
Saving and controlling your spending habbit would reduce your expenditure while investing would increase your income. To achieve financial freedom in five years, you need to fix the targeted amount you wish to have in five years and that would largely determine the kind of investment and the amount of investment. For example, government bonds in Nigeria at the moment have a 15 percent interest, if you invest 2 million naira, in five years you would make almost a 100 percent profit. This would be a very good investment for a lot busy professionals while some other individuals might consider it tad slow. However, at this challenging economic periods it is crucial to be very cautious before and after making investments, as financial fraud is on the rise.