Financial Independence Is About Freedom

Hello everyone, and welcome to an extra special guest post in honor of International Women’s Day. A group of female personal finance bloggers were asked to describe what financial independence means to them. And I am so excited to share this inspiring story from Mel, who blogs at brokeGIRLrich

Growing Up

I had the absolute best mom. She was a homemade playdough, nag you till your homework is done, inspires you to believe you can achieve anything kind of mom.

There are so many ways I hope I’m like her.

Growing up, though, she was a stay-at-home mom until I was almost done with high school and entirely dependent on my dad (who is also great). But the picture of my mom being financially dependent never left me as I got older — and it wasn’t something I wanted out of my life.

Years later, I dated a guy (again, a relatively great one) who also worked in the arts, like me, but had a very different view of money than I did. He wanted to retire by forty. He was super financially literate and doing quite well despite our perpetually low salaries.

I wasn’t so financially literate or on top of things back then. But, over five years together, we had one particular financial battle that has stuck with me over the years. When we were fighting over where to live, he ended the fight one day by just going out and buying a condo.

Because, as he pointed out, it was his money, and he could do what he wanted. And, in a way, he was right. I did not have enough money to go out and buy a condo.

So now he has a charming condo on the west coast and no girlfriend to live in it with him. (Gentlemen, pay attention — not the way to solve the “where will we live” argument).

Lessons Learned

While this particular argument is now water under the bridge, I will never forget that feeling when I knew he was right – I couldn’t just go and solve the problem. It wasn’t my money. I wasn’t even in a position to contribute half a down payment back then. For the kind of life we wanted, I would’ve been dependent on him.

These moments are the kind of things that pushed me towards figuring out my financial life because I knew I wanted control over my options.

I wanted to be on equal footing the next time I fought with someone over where to live.

I wanted to chase career opportunities wherever they might be without worrying if I had enough saved to cover a move.

I wanted to take some time off from work if my family needed me.

Financial independence is important to me as a woman because it gives me so much more control.

It means no one can own me, and I won’t be forced to live with their decisions.

Now, please don’t hear me wrong —

It doesn’t mean I won’t compromise or agree to do things I don’t want to. But it does mean I can always walk away if I want.

It also means no one else — personal life or career life — can hold money over my head.


Embracing Change

Getting started wasn’t that hard, but sticking it out over the years – that has been hard. The first few years felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I can honestly say it took like five years of commitment to start to feel any significant progress.

However, there were some little wins along the way that kept me fueled. And I feel like most people can manage to do these things too — even if they take longer than you’d like them to:

  • I calculated my net worth and started tracking it once a month.
  • I built up an emergency fund in little steps—first $500, then $1000, then six months of expenses.
  • I tapped that emergency fund a few times and had to start over from step one.
  • I tried to get one month ahead on all my bills, so I paid everything at the top of the month instead of at the end.
  • I opened a Roth IRA and contributed what I could. Then I started prioritizing maxing it out.
  • I started investing in index funds.
  • I built up a little side hustle doing something I like.

For me, financial independence is so important because it equals freedom.

Freedom to go where I want and do what I want.

Even if I’m not at a point where I can do everything I want, I still keep getting closer and closer to that every day.


Thank you again to Mel, for sharing your personal story. 

And a special thanks to FemmeFrugality for making this opportunity possible and coordinating all of the resulting posts.

And to all of the strong and inspiring women out there — what does financial independence mean to you?

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