“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffet.
For folk on the road to financial independence, habits really do unveil the map that leads to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the small and consistent work, little and often, that lead to big gains long term – after all, a snowball doesn’t start as a huge, monstrous force of nature, but usually just a handful of ice. These are the five major habits of financially independent people that create the avalanche.
Financially independent people… don’t see any amount of money as insignificant.
Contrary to popular belief, financially independent people know that chump change is for anyone but a chump, and they never turn their nose up at it. From the coins handed back after a note is used, to the little amount leftover in your account at the end of a pay cycle, it all counts.
Financially independent people see investment value in every amount of money, and they use it as such.
While the age old adage of ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’ is true – this rule also extends to the way we think about money too. When we disengage from our spending habits, it’s not a stretch to see frivolous and mindless purchases creep in more and more. So, financially independent people keep a mental tab on their money, as well as a physical hold on how it’s used and returned.
Financially independent people… make do with what they have.
Something borrowed, something blue. For financially independent people (or those on the journey towards it), the very last folk they want to keep up with are those with the surname Jones. That doesn’t mean that they don’t ever have anything nice or new, but simply that newness and flashiness is not a pursuit that feeds their ego.
In fact, for financially independent people, secondhand is pretty handy: from cars, to homewares, baby goods to electronics. The name of the game is reuse, recycle, repurpose and regenerate, because there’s no point reaching for the shiny new toy when you might have something already that’ll do the job, or can make do without entirely. They stay away from flash sales and urgency deals, and if they need something, it’s a long-term, considered purchase.
Financially independent people… are never too good for a new opportunity.
Whether it be a second job, part-time income, a new hustle, or getting their hands dirty when needed, financially independent people see the abundance in every opportunity that comes their way.
Usually this is because they have more time in the first place to pursue interesting new in-roads, but often it’s actually because they know that the most interesting work, conversations or introductions happen through the opening of an unusual – or not previously considered – door.
This includes volunteering, or learning a skill that otherwise would ordinarily be outsourced. Put simply, financially independent people don’t turn their nose up at things if they have the capacity and means to put the graft in. They know that it all comes back around at some point (maybe not immediately, but inevitably).
Financially independent people… maintain visibility over everything.
Conducting a mental health check of your money is a really key part of being financially independent, and it’s something that successful early retirees cite as something they did over their working lifetime with regular intention. So, while they may remain laissez-faire about many things, money isn’t one of them.
This means that they don’t sweat the small stuff across many areas of their life – but they do keep an eye on their bank accounts, income, outgoings and credit score. They know where things are at, even if what they’re looking at doesn’t require action. It’s a money mental health check, and not in an obsessive way (maybe every few months, or twice a year) but it gives them peace of mind and clarity.
We do an annual net worth check every year at Christmas time, and it’s a really helpful birds’ eye view for us (and a way to see how our money has grown with regular intention and contribution). That feeling of cracking your first million in assets is an unbelievable feeling.
Financially independent people… know that education is their most valuable asset.
Financially independent people invest in themselves first and foremost, and I don’t mean just with upskilling and higher education (although that’s a great endeavour in itself). More importantly, they care about being better, smarter, well-versed and interesting people.
They use libraries (literally a building that houses everything you could ever want to know about anything – for free), and they read voraciously (or listen to audiobooks). They seek to better their vocabulary and understanding of the world, and they take an interest in things that they find personally interesting. This isn’t about becoming a history wanker or someone who quotes Marx for fun, but rather the pursuit of continual improvement on subjects that genuinely interest them, and matter to them. They simply seek to be more imaginative, mindful and curious, and literally about anything that matters to them.