Building Wealth to Live the Life You Love
Financial Freedom: Building Wealth to Live the Life You Love
What does financial freedom mean to you? For some, it is synonymous with financial security. But, for others, the definition of financial freedom goes beyond money to include living with purpose, cultivating a healthy mind and spirit or being able to pursue their dreams without fear of the unknown or unexpected.
No matter how you define it, the fundamental steps of mapping a path to the opportunities that financial freedom offer are the same:
1. Define your goals.
What is your vision of a successful life? Defining your goals as specifically as possible helps you begin to establish priorities and distinguish between needs and wants. Once you have clearly identified your priorities, you can start thinking about what types of financial trade-offs or lifestyle compromises you’re willing to make to achieve your version on success, on your own terms.
2. Set a budget.
Living on a budget may sound limiting, but in reality, a budget is a valuable tool for helping you do the things you really want by showing you how much money you will need to do them. Start by calculating your income and tracking your current expenses. Then, separate your needs from your wants in the content of your overall goals. Once you set your budget, the most important thing is to stick to it, monitor how you’re doing and then adjust if necessary.
3. Make a habit of saving.
Saving early, automatically and often is the cornerstone of an effective wealth creation strategy as it allows you to take advantage of the power of compound interest. Prioritize saving over optional expenses and make automatic deposits to your savings, investment or retirement account, if your company enables you to do so. In addition, contributing to a flexible spending account, health savings account, retirement plan or education savings account enables you to take advantage of tax benefits. You can also trim spending by changing your habits—for example, bringing, instead of buying, lunch or unsubscribing from retailer email lists to avoid the temptation to buy things you don’t really need.
4. Align your investment strategy with your goals.
If you’re thinking about investing, you’ll want to formulate an investment strategy that helps you achieve your goals. Begin by figuring out how much you’ll need (your target), when you’ll need it (your time frame) and how much risk you can live with (your risk tolerance). These inputs help to define your asset allocation—the mix of asset classes (stocks, bonds, cash equivalents and other investments) in your portfolio. Since different asset classes tend to behave differently under different market conditions, the goal is to find the mix of investments that has the highest probability of helping you reach your goals.
5. Establish good credit.
Don’t estimate the value of a high credit score. Your credit score is how people assess the level of financial risk associated with giving you a loan or conducting any kind of business with you, including renting an apartment or buying a cell phone. To improve your credit score, pay your bills on time, borrow (but don’t over-borrow) and monitor your credit reports from each of the three main credit score suppliers—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—on a regular basis.
No matter how old you are or where you are in life, the future you envision begins with a comprehensive plan and a Financial Advisor who cares about you and your unique definition of financial freedom.
Article by Morgan Stanley and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.
John Harris is a Financial Advisor in Norman] at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 366.3427.
This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information and data in the article has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. It does not provide individually tailored investment advice and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/or investments discussed in this article may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a Financial Advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.
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