Even more so in today’s world, where affording the same luxuries isn’t as easy as it was a few years back. If you’re dreaming of becoming ‘financially free’, whether that means debt free, mortgage free or just being able to say ‘yes’ to more, find out how you could start achieving your version of financial independence.
Hiding from debt can make it grow, so getting a clear understanding of precisely how much you owe is the first step to becoming debt free. Once you’ve gone through your loan agreements, credit card debt and any other paperwork, you’ll be ready to start planning. You can then work out what you can afford to pay back each month and how long it will take to pay off the debt.
“Put together a realistic repayment plan, one you can stick to and will give you an end point in sight. If you have two or more unsecured debts, prioritise overpayment of the debt with the highest interest rate. It’s a good idea to look at switching credit cards to lower interest rates while you pay them off. It may feel overwhelming at first, but once you understand your finances, you’re likely to feel more in control of them, giving you a psychological boost and putting you on the first step towards financial independence.” Katie Johnson, managing director of savings at Hodge.
Creating a budget can be a very effective way to keep spending under control and ensure you’re able to make your monthly commitment to pay off debts. For some budgeting tips, read ‘how to budget’.
Becoming mortgage free equals financial independence to many. Because being mortgage free means more disposable income while knowing the home is yours to keep, sell or pass on to loved ones. Paying off your mortgage early could also save you thousands of pounds in potential interest.
If you’re looking to pay off your mortgage, paying off any other debt first, such as credit cards and loans is usually best. After this, it’s a case of planning ahead. You’ll need to plan out how much you can afford to overpay on your regular mortgage payment and where the income will come from, for example offsetting savings or reducing your outgoings. You’ll should also check how much your current lender will let you overpay without a charge.
There are other options that may help you pay off your mortgage earlier, such as regularly re-mortgaging to reduce the interest rate. For how to start planning to be financially free from your mortgage, you can find more steps in unbiased.co.uk’s breakdown.
At Hodge we have an Early Repayment Promise on our 50+, RIO and Holiday Let mortgages. We won’t charge you a fee if you pay off your mortgage early by paying off your mortgage in full or selling your home to move elsewhere.
If you aren’t sure whether saving is a better option for you, read our blog ‘Is it better to pay off debt or save’.
Ever heard the saying, a little goes a long way? When it comes to growing your savings pot, it couldn’t be more true. Regularly setting aside small amounts can surprisingly add up over time. Budgeting apps have come up with some creative ways to remove the boredom of saving. And easy access savings accounts, which allow you to top up your online savings account at any time are a great way to do this.
According to Katie: “If you have a savings account, whether it’s a small or big pot, you want it to grow. Shopping around for the best interest rates is a must. Savers are missing out on billions each year because they stick their savings where they have their current account. It’s seen as less hassle. And yes, it may have been easier to do this in the past, but today, an increasing number of digital providers offer slick, easy account opening processes that will do most of the work for you. It can be simple to switch and great way to earn extra on your wealth.”
Plotting out the path to early retirement to become financially free doesn’t need to mean having a huge level of wealth, but it will mean living within your means. The choices you need to get there will depend on your own circumstances, such as age, wealth and lifestyle.
First considerations will be paying off debts, reducing your mortgage, having a healthy pension to live off and sufficient savings for both enjoying life and emergencies. Unbiased.co.uk’s step-by-step guide on how to retire early and gain financial independence is a good place to start.
You can also read more about saving for retirement in our blog ‘Should I pay into my savings account or pension plan’.
If you’re stuck in a pay day cycle, budgeting is about to become your new best friend. Bills, rent, car, groceries – it all adds up. Knowing what you’re spending your hard-earned cash on can be half the battle. Review your outgoings to help you understand your spending habits and find ways to cut back, like cancelling subscriptions you don’t need or sticking to having a take away just one night a week.
Having a clear goal in mind will keep you motivated, such as do you want to reduce your overdraft or save for a holiday? A plan will mean you’re less likely to overspend on things you may not need.
There isn’t one quick win to make your money go further, but by making lots of small changes to your spending habits, you could find you start feeling more financially free.
For more budgeting tips, read more in our blog ‘How a ‘no spend challenge’ could help you gain more than just extra savings’.
This article is correct at time of publishing and for general information purposes only. We recommend you speak to a professional financial adviser for advice. You can find a financial adviser and further personal finance information at unbiased.co.uk.