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Financial Freedom

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Financial Freedom Eludes Many, but Social Security Helps

Today, we celebrate our freedom as a nation, as was symbolized by the signing of the Declaration of Independence 242 years ago. Whether we're with friends or family, manning the barbeque, out enjoying a sporting event, or preparing to unleash an arsenal of fireworks, we as Americans understand and appreciate the freedoms afforded to us.

However, one "freedom" that continues to elude many Americans is the ability to retire comfortably, and on your own terms.

According to a Bankrate survey released in March, most Americans fail to save an adequate amount of their income. While most financial advisors recommend that people save 15% or more of what they earn, just 16% of respondents to Bankrate's survey were heeding this advice. By comparison, 19% weren't saving a red cent, 21% were putting away 1% to 5% of their earnings, and another 25% were saving 6% to 10% of their income. In another context, essentially two-thirds of Americans are saving nothing or very little, thusly putting their retirement in jeopardy.

15 ways to define and achieve financial freedom

For example, some people say they’d feel free if they achieved a net worth of $1 million. Others need much more than a million dollars to feel financially independent, either because they’ve long passed that mark, or they expect to continue in a standard of living that requires a much larger nest egg.

Rather than attempt to convince you of a universally accepted definition of financial freedom, it may be more helpful to provide a list of common life experiences of people we might consider to be financially independent. Using this list may give you insight into the experiences you may want to emulate. As Victoria Castle suggests in her book, The Trance of Scarcity, having a sense of financial freedom and abundance can come by taking time to “connect now to what you care about, to whatever matters most to you.”

As you scan the list and identify things that resonate with how you might want to experience financial freedom, note that I’ve provided one simple step you can take to move you incrementally toward a greater sense of accomplishment when it comes to this aspect of your money.