Since well known psychology professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, published his 12 rules of life: An Antidote to Chaos, everyone and their dog has thrown their own 12 rules of life into the mix. The craze has proffered some insightful pieces, such as Malcolm Gladwell’s one single rule of life – pull the goalie. A logic based argument suggesting that you always go with the choice which is supported by the numbers, regardless of the prevailing popularity of that choice.
I like Gladwell’s rule, it’s simple and applicable to almost everything. I also like most of Peterson’s rules, but I’ll pass on the stopping to pet a cat whenever I encounter one the street – incase it didn’t come across in The Pet Mortgage, I’m not really a cat person.
With all the rules being tossed around out there, I thought it was high time Freedom Seekers had their own set of rules to live by. Let’s call it 12 Rules of Financial Freedom: The Antidote to Working Till You Die.
So without further ado, here’s the 12 rules that every freedom seeker should steadfastly adhere to.
1 – Spend Less Than You Make
No rule is more essential to obtaining Financial Freedom than implementing this single principle. If you stand any chance at all of reaching AND sustaining FF, you simply must spend less than you make. And I’m talking about all spending. Whether it’s money being used to buy your daily coffee, or money to pay your mortgage, your overall expenses include every outgoing penny that leaves your hands. It all needs to total less than your incoming paycheques, substantially less. After all, the wider the gap between your income and expenses, the faster you can leave your job behind.
2 – Find A Business/Life Partner
Your significant other should be someone you are willing to partner with in business. Because frankly, you should treat your life a lot like a business. And if your partner isn’t someone you’d go into business with – you’ve got a serious problem. Finance is the number one reason marriages crumble, so being able to openly discuss money, set mutual goals, challenge each other, and work together are cornerstones of Financial Freedom and a happy relationship.
3 – Don’t Be Stupid
Protect your biggest asset. You. If you injure yourself, you could reduce or even lose your ability to generate income, creating life-altering consequences for you and your family. While we can’t avoid every freak accident that life may throw our way, we can certainly minimize our exposure risk. So just don’t be stupid – it’s price tag is simply too high.
4 – Delay Gratification & Enjoy The Process
Learning to delay gratification takes practice. But when you are good at it, your expenses can drop dramatically and you can avoid the trap of impulse purchases and bad investments. Embracing the delay is learning to enjoy the process rather than solely the outcome. When you do that – you’ll never feel like you are sacrificing a thing. PS: This skill has the added bonus of directly translating to diet and exercise as well.
5 – Eliminate Debt
While debt has it’s place and can be useful for advancing your plans for Financial Freedom – the ultimate goal is to owe nothing to anyone. That’s true Financial Freedom. When you don’t have payments looming over your head, you have true freedom to do what you want.
6 – Diversify Your Income Streams
Didn’t your Grandma ever tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket? Never have only a single source of income. Build income streams and diversify them as much as possible. Doing so insulates your sources of income from each other, and if one is negatively impacted, you likely won’t have to reach for your emergency fund.
7 – Always Have An Emergency Fund
Which brings us to Rule 7. Always, always, always have an emergency fund. As Forest Gump so aptly said, life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes you get a rotten chocolate – so don’t be caught with your pants down. Have emergency cash available so that you aren’t trying to liquidate asset’s at a moment’s notice, when crisis and stress levels are already high.
8 – Never Pay More In Taxes Than You Absolutely Have To
There is generally no bigger expense in life then your taxes. So know the tax laws that apply to you, and know how to streamline your tax efficiency to the absolute maximum allowable. It’s okay if you can’t know it all yourself – but then pay to get an accountant who does. One who will work hard to find every eligible claim, and area of savings – not one that just copies the information off your tax documents into an online tax filer and hits submit. A good accountant is worth their weight in gold, and definitely worth every penny you will pay them.
9 – Save, Save, Save
Everything you aren’t spending or paying in taxes, you should be saving. Simple as that. Save as much as you can, as fast as you can. The sooner you can build your nest egg, the more time you will give it to grow.
10 – Invest Over Time
Unless you’re Warren Buffet, don’t try to be a magician with your investing. Dollar cost average by buying investments steadily over time. By doing this you will inevitably buy in the highs and the lows, but your pricing will be averaged over the long term. Time in investing is your greatest friend – even the most average investor will do well if they simply steadily buy and let time do it’s thing.
11 – Avoid Get Rich Quick Schemes
Whether it’s a “tip” on the next big stock, or a real estate investment that’s just too good to be true, don’t try to strike it rich quick. It’s a surefire way to lose your money and take you one or more steps back on your road to financial freedom. Be the tortoise – not the hare.
12 – Don’t Smoke
Any true addiction is expensive, destructive, and harmful for your health. If needed, refer back to Rule #3. I feel like this one is particularly obvious – but a lot of people still seem to be doing it. Not only is smoking a complete and utter waste of your money – it’s also like paying someone to sloooowwwlllyyy kill you. And if you do all the work of obtaining Financial Freedom – you definitely want to enjoy it for as many years as possible. But dont worry, if you’re currently a smoker, look at the bright side – quitting is an excellent exercise in improving your self-discipline.
If you stick to these 12 simple rules of Financial Freedom, you will find yourself experiencing it first hand sooner than you think.