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  • Writer's pictureTerry Banks

Journey to Financial Freedom: A Roadmap to Success

Destination: Inner peace, joy, free time, play, laughter, rest, ease, and more of what YOU want.

Embarking on the journey toward financial freedom can be like taking a road trip. It starts with a destination, a plan, and a map to guide you along the way. And just like a road trip, there will be detours, obstacles, twists and turns along the way.

But with a clear vision (your WHY) of your goals and a determination to stay on course you can get to your destination. It will take time and effort and the journey is nothing short of amazing.

Here are some travel tips for your journey!

CREATE A BUDGET: Your budget is part of the roadmap. This is where you outline your income, expenses, and financial goals. It’s important to create a budget that is realistic, achievable, and flexible so that life events can be accounted for. Creating a budget is one thing. Sticking to it is another. If you don’t stick to it you’re setting yourself to run out of fuel before you can fill up.

Budgeting is simply telling your money exactly where to go so that you aren’t left wondering where it went. The awareness of where your money is actually going is empowering.

Creating a budget is an indispensable part of practicing money mindfulness.

It makes space for you to prioritize what you really want, NOT what someone else told you that you want. Especially if THAT someone else is trying to play you.

It's your first step in

beating them at their own game.

Clarity will help you to map your route as well as help you know when you're off course. An example of being off course is having consumer debt. Work with me to create your debt reduction plan. Similar to GPS, if you maintain speed, you’ll arrive at your debt-free destination just like you planned.

BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND: Just like having a spare tire in your trunk, having an emergency fund can help you navigate unexpected financial bumps in the road. Many people often mesh their Emergency Fund and Savings. What happens if your car breaks down, you spend the money to fix it and then you lose your job?

You can avoid this by dedicating your Emergency Fund to cover ONLY a loss of income. This sets you up to replace your nagging worries with confidence. The confidence that comes from knowing that you’re set financially when something happens. Not IF but WHEN.

The anxiety and energy-sucking stress of a loss of income no longer burden you because you know you can come back from it.

But don’t call it a comeback.

SAVE FOR SPECIFICS: Don’t be surprised by roadblocks on your journey. Expect and plan for regular maintenance like oil changes, new brakes, tune-ups, and even fender benders to slow your progress. Saving for specifics helps you prepare and save so you don’t get stuck on the side of the road.

Specifics means saving for these three scenarios; Unplanned, Irregular, and Planned.

You’re already on your way because Unplanned is covered by the Emergency Fund.

Irregular events are likely to happen, but you’re just not sure when, like car and home repairs, pet care, gifts, and travel for happy and sad reasons. Setting aside money in anticipation of these and other life events can protect you from using your Emergency Fund, credit cards or borrowing against your retirement. Saving for irregular events helps a detour not send you off a cliff.

Flying Car

Planned savings is where dreaming begins and lifestyle upgrades aren’t working against you. You’ve made the effort to pimp your ride by stabilizing it with state-of-the-art safety features like seatbelts, airbags and backup cameras.

You can now use these features to navigate these wealth building streets. Here are just a few of the things that money that is not earmarked for survival can confidently be used for.

  • Funding your retirement

  • Regularly contributing to a taxable brokerage account

  • Saving for a down payment for a house before buying an $85,000 car

  • Travel - from regularly scheduled vacations to gap years for grown folks

  • And, of course, the holy grail - the option of early retirement

A picture of E-40 with his lyrics quoted "Sometimes it's cool to floss But don't buy an $85,000 car Before you buy a bouse"

SET UP AUTOPAY: While you’re on this trip, it is important to remember that money can buy stuff 💩, but it can also be directed to buy you time ⏱️. Setting up automatic payments will help you do just that. Imagine reclaiming all the time that you spend all month thinking, wondering, worrying, and stressing about what bill is due and when and if Peter will be able to let you hold a lil sumthin’ so that you can pay Paul.

The saying "Idle hands are the devil's playground" is a NOPE for me. The free time that I created gave me the space to create more free time.

A proactive budget gives the clarity and confidence to set up autopay. Use autopay to help you get out of your own way by being more consistent.

By automating your finances (investments included), you can simply set it to regularly pay your bills or invest without having to manually do it.

This is cruise control!

INTEGRATE INVESTING: Investing gives you the opportunity to put your left turn signal on and move to the fast lane. After making sure that the bills are paid and that life events are covered with savings, put the top down and enjoy the ride. This is when compound interest really gets to work by making your money work for you.

REST, REVIEW AND REASSESS: Rest is, of course, a major reason to even get in this car in the first place. But it’s not just about reaching the final destination. We need to schedule regular maintenance of ourselves. On your journey, it’s important to make time to check out some roadside attractions. Not just at the end, but consistently along the way.

Take a moment to pause and enjoy the view. Carve out time to re-evaluate your goals to confirm that you’re not trying to get somewhere that you don’t even want to go.

Celebrate your wins, big, small, and micro. They all count! If your celebration plans aren’t free.99, add them to your budget and pay yourself for it with the urgency and consistency of a bill 🤑. This also works for other types of savings as well. Consider the interest from your high-yield savings account a reward or bonus for making the effort.

If you want some company at the beginning of your trip, I call shotgun. I know some shortcuts and the streets with the car swallowing potholes to avoid.

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