7 Steps To Financial Independence

Ambition is great in many things, but setting your sights too high can backfire. To make big goals happen, it's important to take them one step at a time — and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Dave Ramsey has seven "baby steps" he recommends people take on the path to financial fitness.

Baby Step 1: Amass a $1,000 emergency fund

Start by making sure you have some backup savings ready. If your car breaks suddenly, or you have some expensive health problems, it won't immediately wipe you out if you have an emergency fund to fall back on.

Bonus Kasasa Tip: There are tons of ways to save money. A lot of it's just a matter of getting into the right mindset. Once you start to approach every spending decision with savings in mind, you'll find the savings come easier.

Plus, don’t forget to reward yourself once in awhile to celebrate little wins. Once you reach your $1000 goal, give yourself a little present. What's one thing you stopped letting yourself buy to make those savings? Was it a daily coffee or takeout for dinner? Buy yourself something nice (but nothing likely to threaten your monthly budget) just once to celebrate.

Baby Step 2: Pay off your debt with the debt snowball method

Start with the smallest debt you have to pay off and move up from there. By tackling the feat of paying off your entire debt (except for the house — that comes later) one loan at a time, you'll little by little work your way towards financial fitness.

Bonus Kasasa Tip: Don't have debt? Lucky you! You can still benefit from this step. Act like you do have debt — pick a number and put a set amount towards your savings each month as though you're paying it off. It'll put you that much further ahead in the steps moving forward.

Baby Step 3: Save up enough money to cover 3-6 month's worth of expenses

Once you've paid off your debts, saving will come much more easily. Build up that emergency fund to the point where if you lost your job, you'd have several months before you really felt the effect.

 Bonus Kasasa Tip: Saving is made that much easier if you use a savings account with high interest rates. The more you save, the more you earn to put towards next month's savings. There’s no reason not to take any shortcut you can.

Baby Step 4: Put 15% of your earnings towards retirement

This is the step where you move from basic savings and debt relief and into building wealth. Make use of pre-tax retirement and IRAs to make the most of your savings.

Bonus Kasasa Tip: You're over halfway through your baby steps! I think it's time for another reasonable reward to celebrate. While a comfortable retirement is a nice big reward incentive to look forward to, you can still give yourself a mini splurge for all that you’ve accomplished so far without getting off-track. Maybe a nice dinner out, a manicure, or a day-trip to a nearby tourist attraction?

Baby Step 5: Start saving for your kids' college

The idea is for these savings to be after the 15% you put towards retirement since your child’s college degree won’t necessarily equal a secure retirement for you. Figure out a reasonable percentage you can sacrifice from your monthly budget and put it into an Education Savings Account (ESA).

Bonus Kasasa Tip: What if you don't have kids, and don't plan to? You can get creative with this one. Are there business or language courses that will forward your career? Make those your goal. If they help you make more money, then the rest of the items of the list will be that much easier.

Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early

This one's pretty self-explanatory, and leaves you with absolutely no debt! 

Bonus Kasasa Tip: This is a huge step! I think it's time for another reward. A big one this time. Not having monthly payments is going to make you big savings moving forward, so why not put some of that extra money towards a nice big trip, or a larger item that's been on your wish list for a while?

Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give back

Now that you're at the point where you can really build wealth, think generously and pay it forward. Pick some causes that are meaningful to you and become a philanthropist.


Tags: Personal Finance