I love birthdays, and in the U.S., we're celebrating today! America is 242 years old, ya'll! While the country struggles with identity, division, and a current volatile stock market, most of us just want to be able to take care of ourselves and our families, and at the end of the day, just as the founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence, have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
(the most quoted part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence)
I just re-read the Declaration of Independence, and it's mostly filled with what the King of England did to force the 13 colonies to declare independence. The sentence above, however, is at the very beginning of the list of complaints against the King. To me, it's perfect and beautiful because these are three things I value greatly. The line also makes me love and honor my country even more and gives me more reasons to celebrate our country's day of independence. For me, it leaves very little to interpret, and I guess that's why they wrote that these truths are self-evident (or in a more crude way, they're saying "duh"): that ALL men (OK this part may be under a bit of interpretation, but I believe they were using men as a collective, like people nowadays say "you guys" to mean a group of people, even if there are women present) are created EQUAL and that God (Creator) gave us rights that can't be taken away by any person and those rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
They say that ALL men are created equal. They didn't say only Americans are created equal. They didn't say White Men are created equal. They said ALL men are created equal.
Then, they said that only God gave us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that these are unalienable rights, meaning they can't be taken away by people or even man made laws. We all have the right to live, to have freedom and this part I really want to high-five the founding fathers on...the pursuit of happiness because Happiness, itself, isn't a right. Instead, our right is the pursuit, and I believe the founding fathers knew that pursuing happiness means finding it within, as I discussed in this post. But to me, the most underrated of all three virtues is the right to liberty.
Before the Declaration of Independence could even be written and signed, Patrick Henry convinced Virginians to send troops for the Revolutionary War with his now famous rallying cry:
"Give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry
Henry was willing to die, not just for a country that had not yet been established, but he was willing to die for the concept and the ideal of FREEDOM. That this value was so important that he would be willing to give up his right to life. Independence for the people in the colonies meant also being financially free from taxation without representation.
How much are you willing to give up to be free? Just like happiness, freedom is also within, and one of the most freeing feelings is that feeling of inner peace and being free from the worry of money.
Friends would ask how I do it, how I stay so calm and not go into the cycle of binge watching too much TV, staying in your PJs all day, enjoying it in bursts, and then falling into despair and wondering if anyone will ever hire you again.
Those of us who work in entertainment know all too well about the instability of our jobs. The lack of a steady paycheck has sent people I know into full on panic modes when they're not working! One person gets hives and rashes, while another I know was hospitalized, due to the stress. For me, I see the "downtime" as moments of discovery and time to pursue my most passionate side projects. Friends would always ask how I do it, how I stay so calm and not go into the cycle of binge watching too much TV, staying in your PJs all day, enjoying it in bursts, and then falling into despair and wondering if anyone will ever hire you again. I know the cycle, and in the beginning I did fall into it too.
Then, I started to read books about personal finance, money and investing. I paid off my credit card debts. I started saving 12 months of expenses. Most of those books say to save 3-8 months, but I knew that having a year's worth of expenses saved up will give me more peace of mind in a very unstable career choice. I knew myself and what I needed to feel secure. It wasn't easy saving up 12 months of expenses. It probably took me 12 months to do it, and I did have to sacrifice dinners out every night with friends. However, after being debt free and with 12 months of expenses in a safe, boring savings account, I also finally felt free. With money in the bank, I am free from worry. I have the liberty to choose the projects I want to do, and I have the F*U money to walk away from jobs that are soul crushing. I have the freedom to take a vacation right after a show ends, rather than scramble to find the next gig. I can also take the time to do what I love and see friends and family whom I don't get to see when I'm working 18 hours a day in a foreign country.
For me, it's also important to be financially independent. Even in a loving relationship, I believe each partner should have their own emergency or rainy day fund. As women, we are more likely to take care of others and are most likely the one to take a maternity leave, if we have children. Mentally, it's good for us to know that we have our own money, even if we're not actively earning it. Money is sometimes seen as power, and to have a balance of power in the relationship, it's important for both people to have their own money in the bank. The #1 topic for fights is usually money, but with a healthy attitude about it and taking away any power dynamics reduces the feelings of resentment when one person earns more and has more. I have so much more about how to minimize fights about money in a future post.
For now, enjoy the fireworks, parades, picnics or however you celebrate the 4th of July! Happy Birthday America! Let's celebrate our own financial independence on a day that reminds us of how important freedom can be.
A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from the worry about the what-ifs of life. - Suze Orman
How much are you willing to give up to be financially free? Are you willing to give up a few small indulgences for a few months? If you're a creative freelancer, do you go through the cycle of watching TV in your pajamas all day, get bored, see friends, and then panic that you may not get another job? Vent below. To get more ideas on how to be more financially free, subscribe below. If you want to work with me on finding your own financial freedom, return to the main site and sign up for a FREE financial assessment at the top of the page or in the comments section.