I love checklists.
I use them all the time for things like my cleaning routines, things to do list, projects I’m working on and when I’m not clear about the next steps to take. It provides me clarity, and I like that.
So I thought why not a Financial Freedom Checklist?
This Financial Freedom Checklist is the same checklist I’ve been following for over ten years, and I attribute it to much of my success. In the early days of my debt struggles, the list helped me to see the bigger picture and focus my efforts on the tasks that would make the greatest impact.
Some of the items are significant issues that will take a long time, and some of them are simple tasks that you can accomplish in a day. Some will be relevant to your situation and some will not – that is why it is called “personal” finance – everyone’s situation is unique and different. No two people will have the exact same plan of attack on how to reach financial freedom.
But, if you are just starting out and are trying to get yourself into a better money position, I would suggest spending the next couple months working at checking off as many things on this list as possible.
If you do, you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom!
This checklist is not written in any particular order. So go through the entire list and start wherever works best for you. You may already have some of these issues tackled and can check them off from the outset. Good luck completely as many that apply to you as possible!
MY FINANCIAL FREEDOM CHECKLIST
I don’t know why this works to improve your finances, but it does.
Start giving regularly. When you do, you’ll activate the Law of Attraction and the sow/reap process. You’ll start pushing aside your fear of not having enough because you’ll quickly learn that what you reap you sow and the fear of a lack of money will dissipate.
Don’t believe me? Give it a shot for a few months and then tell me I’m wrong.
I’ve applied this principle to my own life and know it works. Have faith friends and give!
CUT YOUR EXPENSES
One of the easiest ways to get a handle on your finances and pay off debt quickly is to cut as many of your expenses as possible.
It’s not that hard if you’re super committed. We typically waste far more money than we realize simply because we don’t know what we spend our money on.
Sit down and review ALL your expense and you’ll quickly see where you can begin to make cuts.
Related: How To Save $10,000 This Year
SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE
If you vow to do this one simple task, you could pretty much throw the checklist away and never have to worry about your financial freedom.
Spending less than you make is the key to wealth building and financial freedom. It’s the single most important issue you should tackle and master. If you spend more than you make, even if you do all the other tasks on the checklist you won’t have financial freedom until you reign in your spending.
No matter your salary and earnings, failing to ignore this one basic rule will have you struggling or even go bankrupt.
PAY OFF DEBT
Having wracked up serious debt in my past and now being a woman free from debt, I much prefer the latter. Being free from the chains of debt is the most exciting and exhilarating experience. Just keep at your plan of attack. Using the snowball method is the best way to tackle your debt if you’re looking to speed up the process.
Related: How I Got Out of Debt
NEGOTIATE A BETTER RATE ON YOUR CREDIT CARDS
I’ve spent more time negotiating my credit rate than almost anyone I know. When I was in serious payoff mode, I called my creditors all the time, and most of the time I hung up with a better interest rate moving forward. It’s worth the time it takes to ask at least.
BUILD AND EMERGENCY FUND
Sh*t happens. We all know this and when it does having an emergency fund to fall back on will ensure you don’t go into debt and can handle whatever life throws your way.
My emergency fund has saved me more than once, and I’m grateful I have one.
Related: 9 Easy Ways To Save $1,000 A Month
SELL YOUR JUNK
Need cash to pay off debt? Sell your clutter. We all have WAY TOO MUCH stuff in our homes. Sell what you can either via a yard sale, Facebook Marketplace, or consignment. Take that money and apply every last dollar to getting rid of debt. If you’re debt free, put that money into your emergency fund!
CREATE A SPENDING PLAN
Creating a spending plan each month ensures you’re telling your money where to go and are not throwing caution to the wind and “hoping for the best.”
We’ve got a collection of budgeting forms you can download for free or create your own template in an Excel Spreadsheet or use an online tool like Mint.
It doesn’t matter how you do; it only matters that you do it.
GET THE EMPLOYER MATCH ON YOUR 401
Speaking with a few years behind me retirement will sneak up on you before you know it and if you’re unprepared, you’ll find yourself in serious trouble. If your employer has a matching benefit, take full advantage of it. It’s like free money, and you’d be a fool not to as it’s the easiest way to boost your retirement dollars out there.
TRACK YOUR SPENDING
Everybody hates doing it, but if you’re just starting out, the best thing you can do is to track your spending so you can clearly see where your money is going. This will help you identify expenses you can cut and gain more control over your spending. This link will take you to FREE tools to help you track your spending.
ORGANIZE YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS
If your finances are a big hot mess, do yourself a favor and spend the time to organize your bank accounts, documents deposits, and withdrawals and balance your account each month. Maybe having more than one account will help solve your disorganization? I have several accounts for different things and found this a useful strategy to help me reach my financial freedom goals.
ESTABLISH CAREER AND EARNING GOALS
Maybe what you’re currently doing is not going to help you reach your earning potential. If that’s the case, perhaps you should consider changing careers or employers so you can get ahead and become financially free. If you’re contemplating working for yourself or starting a blog, you can learn more about how I did it here.
EVALUATE YOUR CAR NEEDS
Most Americans pay too much for their car. Evaluate your family’s needs in this area and cut where you can. Trade in for a model that’s cheaper and start paying cash for a vehicle, so you don’t have a car loan that never seems to end.
PAY AS LITTLE TAXES AS YOU CAN
I’m a firm believer in using a tax accountant to ensure you’re getting all the legal and appropriate deductions you can. It makes no sense to pay more taxes than you should when you have to work 107 days a year just to pay what the government wants.
LEARN YOUR MONEY TRIGGERS
Many of us suffer from emotional spending, and it’s causing enormous debt as a result. If you can learn what your money triggers are, what you’re trying to substitute shopping for and then can replace that need with something that is healthier and doesn’t require an outlay of cash, your financial future will thank you for it.
Related: The Emotional Side of Money
CALCUATE YOUR NET WORTH
Calculating your net worth will clarify your current financial picture. Your net worth is the difference between the total value of your assets and the total balance of your debt.
ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED
Consumerism has confused the masses out there. As a result, they suffer from “consumer confusion.” They no longer understand the difference between a want and need. Learn what the differences are and then vow only to buy what you need.
Related: Wants Vs Needs
SIMPLIFY YOUR BILL PAYING PROCESS
If you can automate, do so. It will make things easier for you in the long run. Just make sure you have enough money to cover all bills that are paid automatically or you’ll be looking at excessive fees.
FIGURE OUT YOUR TRUE HOURLY WAGE
This is a fantastic way to help you more accurately know what your time is worth and whether or not that job you have is worth it.
CREATE A WILL/POA/HEALTH CARE PROXY
When you die who’s getting what? How will your medical issues be handled? All of these questions can easily be dealt with if you put the proper legal documents in place. Leave this world without them, and you leave a big fat mess for your family to sort through.
START SAVING FOR COLLEGE
If you don’t what will be your children’s alternative?
GET THE RIGHT INSURANCE
I’m not talking solely about life insurance here. Some people need life insurance (if you have kids that are not emancipated for example) and should have it. But what about disability insurance, the proper home and automobile insurance? Medical? Sickness and accident will derail your financial plans faster than anything else. Sit down with a trusted and reputable insurance broker and go over all areas to be sure you’re covered appropriately for your unique circumstances.
PAY OFF YOUR HOUSE
As soon as you’re in a position to start paying down on the mortgage – start!
If you’re struggling with overspending and debt, start using cash and the cash envelope system to manage your money and income. It will change the way you look at money in significant ways and will help to reign in your spending.
DESIGN A FINANCIAL RECORD KEEPING SYSTEM
If you were to drop dead tomorrow would you family know where to find your financial records? Would they be in order and easy to understand? If not, do your loved ones a favor and get your financial paperwork in order and in a system they can easily handle.
My Financial Freedom checklist will help you navigate the waters as you work upstream to a secure financial future. Remember to do as many of these activities as you can if you’re just starting out. From there work your way through the remainder of the list completing tasks that might take more time to accomplish.
In the end, your reward will be a financially secure life for you and your family.