The Path to Financial Freedom is Not a One-way Street

The path to Financial Freedom is not a one-way street. I had to learn this concept the hard way. We've all seen roadmap illustrations showing multiple pathways to achieving a goal or heard the saying, "there's more than one way to skin a cat." But for some reason, I did not think the scenario of switching roads on our journey to obtain financial would apply to my type A personality or my general approach of following plans down to the tee. I've learned the path is not always straight and narrow.

I started down the path to pay off my debt to reach a state of feeling mentally and physically free from owing anyone money. Also, to build generational wealth and create a lifestyle filled with passion and fun for my family. Not a lifestyle of financial obligation. Thus far, our journey has taught me that everyone's path is different, but the principles to reach financial freedom are the same. More importantly, life changes daily, and obtaining your goals depends on your ability to shift around the landscape's constant changes.

At the beginning of our debt-free journey, we were newly married with minimal obligations. We rented a small one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta's suburbs and did not have any kids. At the time, our debt load was so heavy and we thought we were spread thin. As life continued to happen and adulting got real, financial obligations and constraints got tighter. In March of 2015, I will never forget the day I totaled my 2005 silver Honda Civic coupe that my parents purchased for me back in high school that I planned to ride until the wheels fell off. Totaling the car was not a physically traumatic event (thank God!). However, it was emotionally traumatic for me and an unforeseen expense.

Getting a new car would be our first major financial decision together as a married couple. I purchased a brand new crossover SUV using a combination of money from the insurance check we received for the Honda Civic, savings, and a loan. I did a lot of research to get the lowest interest rate on my loan, and I thought we were making a sound financial decision. But the reality is, we just piled another $20,350.80 on top of existing debt. While this vehicle choice did not necessarily create a sinkhole on our road to take control of our finances, it certainly set us back a few hundred miles from reaching our destination.

Knowing what I know now, there are so many better ways we could have approached that car situation. We could have purchased a less expensive used car in good condition for starters versus buying a brand new car. You live and you learn, right? The purchase of a brand new car was just the first of many roadblocks and rocky points we've hit on our journey to financial freedom. I've realized there are so many life events that can alter your finances and, honestly, excuses that limit us tremendously. The truth is that sacrifice, seeking advice, making tough decisions, and staying the course will always work when you set a goal, including a financial goal like paying off debt and building wealth.

Most goals start with a positive mindset and a good roadmap, a good plan. The plan may be altered 500 times along the way, which is difficult for type A personalities like myself, but it makes for a little drama and growth along the way. Start now. Set a financial goal, create a road map to get there, and understand that there will be bumps and rough patches along the way. If you had a plan but have gotten off course, it is time to realign yourself, get out of the trees and get back on the path.

- LeAnn

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