I’m working at my laptop in a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado. I have a hot coffee next to me, the caffeine helping me power through the day. It’s 5:30 and I still have a few hours left of work before I can call it a day. But I don’t mind. Because my day is on my terms.
I log online and decide to book a flight to Seattle to visit my family in a few weeks, smiling at the luxury of being able to take my work wherever I want whenever I want.
This is my own personal definition of freedom: being where I want, when I want and doing the work I want.
This seemed like such a fantasy just a few years ago. But it’s my reality. And all it took was $25 a week.
LANDING ON MY DEFINITION OF FREEDOM
I never planned to quit my full-time job and become an entrepreneur. And if you had told me that I would someday give up the steadiness of a job, I would’ve thought you were crazy. I actually loved being an employee. I loved getting a steady paycheck, I loved validation for a job well-done from my boss and colleagues and I loved having a clear career path laid out ahead of me.
I loved everything that was the opposite of starting my own business.
But somewhere deep down inside of me, I wanted more. More flexibility, more creativity, more… something. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.
I just knew that I wanted more freedom.
My definition of freedom in my early twenties was simple: I wanted to travel. It was taking a trip to South America that had been on my bucket list. It was spending time with family and friends in Seattle whenever I wanted.
Sure, I had a few vacation days here and there to make that happen. But not enough to travel as much as I wanted. And certainly not enough to travel whenever I wanted.
So even though I loved being an employee, somehow the 22-year-old version me knew that I had bigger plans. Plans to travel, to visit friends and family and maybe even take a few months off to explore the world.
And I knew I needed to save up money to make that happen.
SMALL SAVINGS ADDING UP
Even as a 22-year-old earning an entry-level nonprofit salary, I knew that I had to (and could) put aside a little money each week towards my vision of freedom. So I started by putting just $25 a week in my savings account. But not just any savings account; this was my freedom fund (I even named my savings account “Explore the world!”). I set it up so my savings account would automatically pull from my checking account each week and I didn’t have to worry about it.
Every now and then I would put in some extra savings. And over time I increased my deposits to $50 a week. But it wasn’t top of mind and I rarely checked my balance.
It wasn’t until several years later that I really looked at my account. And I was shocked.
A few years down my career path and I was way less happy about my employee status. I was really dissatisfied at work and I had been applying to job after job trying to find the answer to my career slump. But nothing was working out. And nothing looked right for me.
That’s when I looked at my savings account.
I had almost $10,000 in there.
What had started as setting aside a little money each week to help me travel the world suddenly looked like an incredible opportunity. And I realized I could do something incredibly bold with my life.
This savings gave me the nerve to think a little more risky than I ever had before. I could quit my job. I could start something on my own. And if things didn’t work out, I knew I had the money to support myself.
The money sitting in front of me was giving me a chance to live a life of ultimate freedom.
So that’s what I did: the paycheck-loving, good-employee version of myself let go of her 9 to 5 job and ventured out on her own.
Two years later, I’m sitting here in a coffee shop, so grateful for the chance to be where I want whenever I want.
And I’m even more grateful for having the hindsight to save up just a little bit at a time to make that happen.
SETTING UP YOUR OWN FREEDOM FUND
You don’t need to know what you want to use your freedom fund for. You don’t have to want to travel or start your own business. All that matters is that you start. Today. A freedom fund is there to buy you choice in the future. And all it takes is a modest amount of money each week to make it happen.
Here’s how to start a freedom fund:
- Pick something you’re excited about. You can change your mind later, but pick something in the future that would get you excited to set aside $25 in a savings account each week.
- Pick a separate spot for your savings. Opening up a separate savings account for my Freedom Fund made me feel like the money was extra special - and I was less tempted to touch it.
- Pick a small amount to save each week. Even with my meager salary, I knew I could save $25 a week. Over time, I slowly increased my deposit amount. But I knew that consistency was more important than quantity. So start small and start with something you can do regularly.
- Add extra money when you can. I used my Freedom Fund as the place to pile in any extra money when it came my way (like my tax refund). Adding in extra money when you can will help give you a little rocket boost to your weekly savings.
When you break it down to just $25 a week, buying your own freedom can be so easy. And it can literally change your life.
So… what would you do if you could buy your freedom?