Freedom means different things to different individuals. For a housewife, it could mean switching off from the never-ending list of household chores. For a student, it could mean breaking free from rote learning. For the older Gen Z and the younger millennials, it may be the simple act of getting into a job and living independently. For the sandwich generation, it could be about fulfilling their responsibilities—for parents and children—successfully. For the retired, it may mean not depending on their children, and the freedom to spend their life on their own terms.
Post Covid, for most people, freedom became synonymous with simple things in life—the ability to meet friends and family, to socialise, throw a party, travel wherever and whenever, work from a place of their choice, or not work at all.
In many of these cases and more, the concept of freedom is inextricably linked with financial freedom. On India’s 75th Independence Day, we take a look at what can make you feel financially free and the right way to go about it.
To Have Enough And More
Ask any advisor what financial freedom is, and the answer will be on these lines: when you have enough to meet your financial goals, and more to pursue your dreams. “It is the ability to meet your dreams and aspirations without worrying about their costs, or implications on other financial goals,” says Lovaii Navlakhi, managing director and CEO, International Money Matters Pvt. Ltd, and a Sebi-registered investment advisor.
That may be indeed true, but the question is: are you among those who have a large enough income or inheritance to see you through or someone who can embrace a basic, minimalist lifestyle? “It is a question of priorities. There is no black and white or thumb rule available, as it depends upon the mindset of the individual, his capabilities, his risk profile, his commitments,” says Navlakhi.
If you don’t fit in either of the scenarios, but still long for a piece of financial freedom, you may think of stepping back from the big strokes of financial planning, which requires you to have enough and more to be able to lead your life the way you want to. Perhaps, take one step at a time: the one which can free you of your immediate financial worries.
In her 2017 novel, Small Acts of Freedom, Gurmehar Kaur, who became a victim of social media onslaught a few years ago after joining a peaceful protest as a student, talks about the small gestures and decisions that can lead to big changes through stories of three women in her family. In quite the same way, small steps of financial prudence can also beget a sense of financial freedom.
It could be breaking free from volatility in the markets and other investments, to having some semblance of stability in your portfolios; or freedom from debt and uncertainties, which became the defining themes for a lot of people post Covid; or the niggling worry of losing a substantial part of your salary to taxes.
But before we come to tackling those little freedoms, it’s important to address the most coveted of all freedoms, for which you need to either sit on a big pile of saving or give up on all or most of your material desires: freedom from 9-5.