Hello everyone, and welcome to an extra special guest post, in honor of International Women’s Day. A group of female personal finance bloggers were asked to describe what financial independence means to them. And I am sooo excited to share this inspiring story from Mel, who blogs at brokeGIRLrich.
In addition, please be sure to check out this link for some of the other amazing posts dedicated to International Women’s Day (including mine!).
Elise’s post True Equality Begins with Economic Equality
Robyn’s post The privilege of Financial Independence
Brynne’s post Equal Access to Financial Independence
And now, turning it over to Mel —
I had the absolute best mom. She was a homemade playdough, nag you till your homework is done, inspires you to believe you can achieve anything kind of mom.
There are so many ways I hope I’m like her.
Growing up though, she was a stay-at-home mom until I was almost done with high school, and entirely dependent on my dad (who is also great). But the picture of my mom being totally financially dependent never left me as I got older — and it really wasn’t something I wanted out of my life.
Years later, I dated a guy (again, a fairly great one), who also worked in the arts, like me, but had a very different view of money than I did. He wanted to retire by forty. He was super financially literate and doing quite well despite our perpetually low salaries.
Back then, I wasn’t so financially literate or on top of things. Over the course of five years together, we had one particular financial battle that has stuck with me over the years. When we were fighting over where to live, he ended the fight one day by just going out and buying a condo.
Because, as he pointed out, it was his money and he could do what he wanted. And, in a way, he was right. I did not have enough money to go out and buy a condo.
So now he has a perfectly nice condo in the west coast and no girlfriend to live in it with him. (Gentlemen, pay attention — not the way to solve the “where will we live” argument).
While this particular argument is now water under the bridge, I will never forget that feeling when I knew he was right – I couldn’t just go and solve the problem. It wasn’t my money. I wasn’t even in a position to contribute half a down payment back then. For the kind of life we wanted, I would’ve been dependent on him.
These moments are the kind of things that really pushed me towards figuring out my financial life because I knew I wanted control over my options.
I wanted to be on equal footing the next time I was fighting with someone over where to live.
I wanted to be able to chase career opportunities wherever they might be without worry about if I had enough saved to cover a move.
I wanted to be able to take some time off from work if my family needed me.
Financial independence is important to me as a woman because it gives me so much more control.
It means no one can own me and I won’t be forced to live with their decisions.
Now, don’t hear me wrong —
It doesn’t mean I won’t compromise or agree to do some things I don’t really want to do. But it does mean I have the ability to always walk away, if I want.
It also means no one else — personal life or career life — can hold money over my head.
Getting started wasn’t really that hard, but sticking it out over the years – that has been hard. The first few years felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I can honestly say it took like five years of commitment to start to feel any big progress.
There were some little wins along the way though, that kept me fueled. And I feel like most people can manage to do these things too — even if they take longer than you’d like them to:
- I calculated my net worth and started tracking it once a month.
- I built up an emergency fund in little steps. First $500, then $1000, then 6 months of expenses.
- I tapped that emergency fund a few times and had to start over from step one.
- I tried to get one month ahead on all my bills, so I pay everything at the top of the month instead of the end of the month.
- I opened a Roth IRA and contributed what I could. Then I started prioritizing maxing it out.
- I started investing in index funds.
- I built up a little side hustle doing something I like.
For me, financial independence is so important because it equals freedom.
Freedom to go where I want and do what I want.
Even if I’m not at a point where I can do everything I want, I still keep getting closer and closer to that everyday.
Thank you again to Mel, for sharing your personal story.
And a special thanks to FemmeFrugality — for making this opportunity possible, and for coordinating all of the resulting posts.
And to all of the strong and inspiring women out there — what does financial independence mean to you?
Hit me up in the Comments —
Thanks for joining me!
Robin : )
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.