It might sound like a basic question no one needs to ask anymore, but really, it’s a question we need to answer before making any financial plans and decisions. It’s one of these issues which we think we all have the same answer to, but if we think about it a second time, we would realize that our answers would vary.

Naturally, if a group of people has different goals, they will have to go their separate ways at some point. Somewhere in the middle, as you try to reach your goals, you will realize how much your answer to a question like this drives you and guides you in your everyday decision-making and planning.

And how you define financial decision ultimately reflects the goals you want to accomplish in life. So again, let us repeat the question and take a deeper look into it: what does financial freedom mean to you?

  1. Financial Freedom is debt-free.

This might not be a definition that many would relate to, but those who were troubled by credit dues, unwanted “notices”, and debt collectors in the past would easily agree that this is one of the most important aspects of being financially free.

Achieving this might be effortless to a handful, but most would agree that it requires a lot of effort to get rid of all one’s debts. It being difficult does not mean, however, that is is impossible. It can be done. It might require little to massive sacrifices, especially when it comes to lifestyle and shopping for your wants, but once you achieve it, you will be able to sleep better at night. It will be worth it.

  1. Financial Freedom is having enough funds to provide for yourself and your family.

Just because you are currently unemployed does not automatically mean you cannot be financially free. You also have to look at your other resources; are you the lone provider in the family? If not, does the other provider make enough money to cover your family’s necessities?

If yes, then in a sense, it still qualifies as “financial freedom”. You might not have the luxury to answer to your every whim and wants, but being well-provided in itself or more simply, being able to say “we have enough” is that which is of greater importance.

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  1. Financial Freedom is doing something you love and are passionate about.

Some are lucky enough to be head over heels in love with jobs in the industries currently topping the highest paid lists all over the world, but many find their passion for being in fields that are not of great demand. Even if you belong to the group of the latter, that does not mean you will not be able to proclaim that you are financially free.

Even if you are struggling in fields like Fine Arts, you can get to the point wherein you do not have to worry about not having enough money. Some may find it in being their bosses and starting on their own, but that does not mean it cannot happen to employees.

Taking the Stoic route, being able to look forward to another day at work is more of a matter of perspective rather than mere job titles, positions, and salaries. As long as you love what you are doing, you know it’s worth it despite the challenges you face along the way.

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  1. Financial Freedom is having the purchasing power to buy what you want.

Of course, that does not mean you have to be a reckless shopper who buys everything you want. You can have the purchasing power without buying it anyway, especially when you know you do not have to or need whatever it may be.

You can count here as well having retirement funds and enough savings to last for a long time, especially in case of unfortunate events like losing a job or having to pay for medical bills.

  1. Financial Freedom is being educated enough to make well-informed financial decisions.

At first, it is easy to dismiss the value of education when it comes to financial management and getting rich; after all, we have heard of these stories of high school and college dropouts who ended up millions, even billions, richer than their valedictorian classmate.

However, financial freedom is not just about getting big money coming in your bank accounts. It’s also about being able to keep it that way, or at least, keep them stable. Many in the past did manage to earn big and even become millionaires, but the struggle has been to keep the money in and growing; in the past, many have failed.

This is where education enters the picture; in here, we do not mean just formal education. You may also include the various classes, seminars, or trainings you attend, conferences you hear and participate in, and the credible sources you research and read on important fields that matter in financial management.

The informed has an advantage, especially when it comes to budgeting and investment. Read up and correct your habits and misconceptions that are keeping you from your goal of being, finally, financially free.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).