Buy Freedom, Not Things

buy freedom, not thingsI was talking with a friend over dinner about what I’m currently doing. His response?

“Oh, personal finance guru (sarcasm dripping in buckets), what is the best money advice you can give to me?”

I sat there thinking for a few minutes about all the money related topics I discuss on a daily basis here and on the main website and then kind of blurted out the following without really thinking:

“Buy freedom with your money, not things.”

What I said even caught me by surprise as I have never really pronounced anything quite like that in my writings so far. While I don’t know if it is the best personal finance advice I could give, I think it would make the top ten – it’s something that I’ve always thought about but never found a good way to express. No matter how much advertisers try to convince you that the things you buy will make you happy, it’s a false promise. Freedom to do more of the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with, however, can bring you true and lasting happiness.

Part of the biggest challenge for everyone trying to get their personal finances in order is to learn what is truly the most important things for them (even though that might not sound like anything to do with personal finance, once you have that solidly in mind you know why you are working as hard as you are and where you want that money to go). This is one reason that goals are so important in regard to your personal finances – not for the money itself, but to be able to use the money you have saved and invested to do the things that you truly want to do.

I’m sure that many of you are rolling you eyes while you read a personal finance blogger getting a bit philosophical, but take a few minutes to consider it. When you spend money, would you rather spend it to purchase more freedom to do what you want, or to buy more things? If you answer freedom, then why are you buying all the things that you are buying? That’s my thought for you to consider for today:

Should I buy freedom with my money, or things….?

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12 Responses to Buy Freedom, Not Things

  1. David says:

    I couldn’t agree with this anymore. Having ever loan paid off, not locked into any long term commitments, and stable enough to support yourself if something were to go wrong brings about an entirely different level of confidence and stress relief. I find that actually living below my means (while still very comfy) is a huge contributor to this.

  2. Retireyoung says:

    Great advice. I tried telling my family that I plan on quitting my job and working on my websites fulltime. I don’t think they could understand how this works and how I make money. I want to be financially secure, but I don’t need the trappings that most people associate with wealth.

  3. Kira says:

    No, I think you are right on. One of my friends joked that she would never be as responsible as me, with all my retirement saving and planning and all that, and I said well I’m being temporarily responsible so that in the future, I can stop being responsible and do whatever the hell I want.

  4. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t agree more. However, this is easier said than done. I dream of the day when there are no obligations, the day, where if I lost my job, everything would be fine. But we always go out and incur more obligations? I’m not sure if we are just trying to keep up with the Jones’ or what, but I am one person who will struggle to stop buying “things” even as much as I really want to.

  5. Mike says:

    As a long-time nerd, I love my toys. I’ve made decent money over the past 10 years or so and have quite a pile.

    Today, I’m not happy.

    All of this crap that surrounds me in my house feels like a huge ball and chain. If I didn’t have all of this crap (yes, I call it that), I would not need as much space and therefore could have a smaller house paymen. I’d also be much more able to easily move to pursue a complete life change/re-start that I want to do.

    However, having paid so much for everything, and much of it still having some value, I have trouble just donating it or throwing it away. I feel as though I need to sell the stuff on Ebay or to friends, or something like that. So, not only did I work to buy this crap to begin with, I worked to pay to store it, and now, I must work again to sell it.

    It’s taken many years for me to see it, but it’s true that stuff (crap) does not create happiness. And, with simpler desires, you need less money, so you arrive at the classic “money does not buy happiness” also.

    Anyone want some of my crap so I can begin working towards my desire to uproot and move somewhere else? ;^)

  6. Jill says:

    Great thoughts. That is exactly why I love frugality and personal finance.

  7. ChippingAway says:

    As has already been said, excellent post and point! I think Kira’s also hit the nail on the head as well with ehr comment about how being temporarily responsible now will (hopefully) allow us all to have a choice later on of whether or not we want to be responsible anymore. 🙂

    Hmm, work and be reasonably responsible now. Retire to a life of liesure in my 50’s… and have my last check bounce when I finally kick the bucket. 🙂

  8. Dennis says:

    I could not agree more. My wife and I are in the process of cutting back on the new cars, house, and toys. We want to work just as hard, but put our money priority on freedom of time.

    Well done.


  9. Teri Pittman says:

    This is also why I tell folks not to pay off credit cards, without having an emergency fund. Paid off bills gives you the opportunity to go back into debt. Money gives you options.

  10. pfadvice says:

    This is also why I tell folks not to pay off credit cards, without having an emergency fund. Paid off bills gives you the opportunity to go back into debt. Money gives you options.

    Hmmm, as I have stated before, I think that in most cases, paying off a credit card debt is a better move than creating an emergency fund (my view and I understand there are arguments that don’t agree with me).

    In this case, I think the main point is to not get in debt in the first place with things and instead save the money for freedom. I don’t think that anyone who is in debt is in a position to use their money for freedom until that debt is paid off…

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  12. dan says:

    so where can i buy some fredom for real??

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