Author: Mary Ambrose, CPA/MBA
Being financially independent or self-sufficient is a goal that every one of us should achieve, regardless of gender or lifestyle. Granted, you may have to care for children as a stay-at-home mom.
Or, you might be one of those lucky ones who don’t have to work because your hubby makes more than enough for the whole family. However, it’s still in your best interest to have your own income sources and savings stacked up for whatever life throws at you.
This article provides a plethora of information and ways you can be financially independent, whether you want to work for others or for yourself.
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According to official U.S. Census Bureau data, the 2016 “real” (inflation adjusted) median earnings of men and women working full-time was $51,640 and $41, 554, respectively. That translates into female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.8. In other words, statistically, women only make 80% of what men are making.
Although it’s case by case and some women make a lot more than most men, this census bureau data is reflective of the majority of American working adults. And quite frankly, this level of income inequality is disappointing considering we’re already well into the 21st century.
Low take-home pay makes you more prone to relying on others in order to make ends meet. But that’s never an ideal situation to be in.
Why Financial Independence Is Important
For unforeseen events in life
Life is full of surprises. You just never know what tomorrow will bring. We’ve seen CEOs here today, gone tomorrow. Civilizations rise and decline, let alone our small little human existence. Change is truly the only thing constant in the universe.
When roughly 50% of marriages dissolve in this country, you really don’t want to count on your spouse to provide for all your expenses. Even if the loving relationship lasts forever, the sole bread-winner might lose the job, become disabled, or simply decide to stop working altogether. Then what do you do?
You don’t want to be at the mercy of someone else’s decisions. You want to be in control of your financial well-being, regardless of what anyone else around you is doing.
To have more decision-making abilities at home
Traditionally, women play the role of caregiver in the family while men work and bring in paychecks. But this traditional role women played typically didn’t afford them much “say” in important life decisions compared to the primary income earner of the family.
Over the past few decades, as women take on more and more important positions at workplaces, they also play much more important roles in decision-making process on the home-front.
To have a more enjoyable lifestyle
Who doesn’t want the financial freedom to buy whatever you want and go wherever you desire. Without the extra source of income and with relatively tight budget, it’s just more difficult to live life to the fullest.
Why not put in some work now so that you can have that vacation in Bahamas you’ve always dreamed of?
To have peace of mind
Based on statistics, fights over finances are oftentimes one of the leading causes of marital breakdowns. Regardless of your relationship status, having more money in the bank and being financially independent do provide more peace of mind in times of distress.
After all, you shouldn’t worry about not having a roof over your head if, for whatever reason, you’re on your own all of a sudden.
How to Achieve Financial Independence
First and foremost, you need to manage finances wisely.
Budget wisely and save every month
According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal savings in this country only averaged 8.23% from 1959 to 2018, with 6.70% in July 2018. That means only $230 is saved monthly by an American working woman earning a median full-time income of $41,554. That doesn’t give much wiggle room for incidentals or emergency expenses.
Depending on your budget, always try your best to save as much as possible. I’m not saying you should be stingy or count every dollar you spend. But throwing out $500 for a purse is not something that I would recommend or do myself. It’s way better to put that extra cash in a money market account, invest in low-risk stocks or ETFs, or even give to the poor.
Either way, you need solid savings in your bank account for at least six months’ worth of living expenses to provide sufficient cushion for “rainy days”.
Reduce and eliminate debt
According to the Federal Reserve, credit card debt has become the number one source of debt in American households, surpassing home mortgages. Unfortunately, paying interests on groceries, clothing and other household necessities is the kind of spending habits you need to avoid to prevent financial disasters.
If you’re currently in debt and find it hard to get out of it, try the free debt consultation service from CuraDebt Debt Relief and see if you can get some debt consolidation help.
Sometimes you need professional help disputing the collect-ability of your debt and remove the item from your credit report. American Debt Enders provides this kind of service for you and offer easy but affordable debt consolidation plan.
Maintain a good credit score
Having a good credit score is the result of responsible and disciplined way of handling finances, and you want to keep it that way. Refer to the “In-Depth Guide To Improving Your Credit Score – With Personal Tips & Experiences” for more insight on that topic.
Start saving for retirement
If your employer offers benefits such as 401(k) plan, you should definitely take advantage of it. Essentially, a retirement savings account such as 401(k) plan or Roth IRA account enables the account holder to defer income tax payments to a later day assuming the marginal tax rate is lower at retirement.
In addition, employer’s contributions to the 401(k) account every month also help to grow your savings. Depending on the vesting requirement and employer matching percentage, not enrolling in a 401(k) plan is like leaving money on the table for no good reason.
Give to charities
Last but not least, giving is always more blessed than taking. The more you give, the more you’ll be richly rewarded.
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.
I know this is not a conventional advice for financial well-being, but giving is actually something that we all must do to contribute to the society and to stay disciplined with our finances. Through your own willingness and loving kindness to those in need, you will never be in want. You have to have that kind of faith.
Among the many choices of charities and non-profit organizations with good causes, I personally do recommend “Unbound” (formerly known as CFCA) and “Save the Children”. Donations to these types of IRC section 501 (c) (3) organizations are also tax-deductible.
Different Ways To Achieve Financial Independence
If You Want To Work In “Corporate America”
Most working adults have a “nine-to-five” job. The benefit of working for another company is simple: you don’t have to worry about marketing, funding, payroll, IT, etc. And best of all, you can focus on your personal projects and family affairs in your spare time instead of thinking and working on your own business around the clock like what most entrepreneurs have to do.
Follow the tips below to help you get your foot in the door:
Get necessary education and training
One of the basic requirements for a professional position is college education. In a competitive job market, a bachelor’s degree is required, not preferred.
You don’t have to take on a lot of student loan debt to get a degree under your belt. In most cases, public universities are just as good as those expensive private schools.
What matters more might be the major you choose. We all have hobbies and personal interests, but that doesn’t mean you should make a career out of them.
Be pragmatic and choose a major that will open door to ample gainful employment opportunities. Accountancy, computer science and engineering are among the top majors that will make your job search a lot easier than others.
Get your resume in shape
Resume summarizes our educational and professional background including essential skills required for potential employment opportunities. You should put keywords relevant to your past experiences within your resume to make it more searchable on job search engines.
However, one should never lie about anything in the resume because that’s easy to get caught during job interviews and pre-employment background checks.
If you need a good start in job search but didn’t have much experience writing resumes, it might be a good idea to use a professional service firm called Resume Writing Service and get 25% off via this link to give your search some extra boost.
Apply through various job search engines
Once you’ve sharpened your resume, hop on the most popular job sites and search for your dream job there:
In recent years, Indeed.com has risen to the top as the world’s #1 job search site reaching over 200 million job seekers and employers worldwide. It also provides valuable information such as company reviews, average salary data by industry and city, etc.
Linkedin is more like the “facebook” for professionals. You can upload your profile picture, outline work experiences and skills just like you would in a resume.
If you have a strong profile and if your experiences contain certain keywords that recruiters are looking for, you’ll be approached for suitable opportunities on a regular basis.
Apply directly on “Careers” page of employers’ website
You might be surprised how effective it is to apply directly on a company’s “Careers” page for open positions. If your application stands out from the crowd, HR will reach out to you within a few days for next steps. I’ve experienced that multiple times myself and landed the job offers this way.
Below is a sample job search page from Bank of America Careers page:
Once you’ve landed your dream job, definitely check out my personal experiences and tips on how to double your salary in a few years. If you follow the strategies in that article properly, you can achieve the same goal and live a much more comfortable life.
If You Want To Work For Yourself
Chances are you’re tired of the nine-to-five routines and the daily commute, and you want to run your own business and be your own boss. After all, we all want to work for what we’re passionate about.
Sky’s the limit for you as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work and persist till you succeed, no matter how many times you fail along the way.
Based on American Express Open’s “2015 State of Women-Owned Business Report”, the number of female-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 74% between 1997 and 2015, and that’s 1.5 times the percentage increase of all enterprises. So let’s keep crushing it, sisters!
Here are just some sample ideas to start things off:
Ideas For Freelancing:
Make Fiverr your best friend. Fiverr is a top on-demand freelancer services platform. There are many ways you can earn income by applying your unique talents and skills:
- Graphic design
- Bookkeeping service
- Programming and coding
- “Voice-over” for social media channels and ads
- On-demand singer and song writer services
- Virtual assistant
- Data entry
- Financial consulting
- Legal consulting
- Arts and crafts creation
- Online tutoring
- Translation service
If you’re already a highly ranked freelancer on Fiverr, or if you have a client base and want to be recruited by Fiverr Pro Program, see the comprehensive list of services you can provide at exceptional prices on Fiverr Pro here.
Ideas For Home-based Businesses:
- If you’re good with crafts and creative ideas, try selling your creations on Etsy
- If you love kids and have sufficient space, try obtaining proper licenses and open a daycare center at your house
- If you love animals, try opening a “pet-care” center to provide walking, cleaning and grooming services for pets
- If you’re into e-commerce, try selling physical products on Amazon, Ebay, and Shopify drop-shipping.
- If you’re confident with your writing and digital marketing skills, try starting a blog and monetize it using affiliate marketing and advertising revenue. Check out “How To Create A Blog And Make Money From It – A Complete Guide” for step-by-step instructions on how to do that.
Ideas For Brick And Mortar Businesses
If you have the funding in place and don’t mind investing potentially significant overhead costs upfront, try the following:
- Open a bakery and coffee shop if you’re good at making pastries and dessert
- Start a franchise business such as Pizza Hut, Great Clips, Nurse Next Door Home Care Services, etc.
- Build a professional services firm such as accounting/bookkeeping, tax preparation and consultation, legal services, interior design, coaching, etc.
You’ll get quite busy by starting with any one of the ideas above. So start taking actions today!
Being financially comfortable and self-sufficient is definitely a goal within your reach if you are determined. The tips and information provided in this article will help everyone achieve that regardless of the lifestyle chosen.
Insights shared in this blog post are not just limited to women. So be sure to share this with your friends and family members, too!
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