How free are you? It’s a question you have probably never stopped and asked yourself, but it bears some thought. Here five ways you can be more independent and enjoy greater freedom.
Free Yourself From Debt
Debt is probably the biggest ball and chain around your ankle holding you back. Have you ever added up how much you spend each month to service your debt? How much are your credit card payments, your house payments, and your car payments costing you? I bet it is a significant portion of your paycheck. As long as more than half your income goes to pay your mortgage and various credit cards and loans, you can never be free.
Back around the turn of the century, I had credit card debt of $26,000 between four credit card companies. There were months when I would use and advance on one card to pay off another. It was a house of cards, and I worried constantly that it would trap me under a mountain of debt. On top of this, I had a mortgage and a leased car.
The only way I paid it off was by starting a side business and working nights and weekends. The first time it made any money, it was $800. I remember being so thrilled when that check arrived.
Today, thanks largely to that side gig, I have no credit card debt, no mortgage, and no car payment. Everything we own, we own free and clear. That gives me and my wife and tremendous freedom because most of our payments are things we choose to buy. The only bills we have to pay are real estate taxes, the electric bill, and insurance bills. Everything else is what we choose to pay. If the financial system collapses, the repo man and the bank won’t be knocking at our door. That is tremendously freeing.
Free Yourself from Excess Stuff
When I was in college, I could pack up everything I owned into my car and drive somewhere else. After I got my first job and an apartment, it required a car and a U-Haul trailer. I no longer have that kind of freedom.
Whether or not you admit it, your stuff ties you down. I admit it. As a prepper, I am tied down by my prepper stash, my tools, and my guns and ammo. As someone with animals, I am tied down by the need to feed my chickens and walk my dog; that makes it difficult to be gone overnight. But we have far less stuff.
Moving was liberating in so many ways, but one of them was getting rid of stuff that had accumulated in the attic and basement for twenty years. We sold, consigned, gave away, and donated an astounding number of things. We have missed very few of them.
For example, I am no longer tied down by the antique table we inherited from my mother’s dining room and took up space in my attic for the better part of a decade; we are no longer holding on to golf clubs, skis, and snorkeling gear, just in case we decide to take these sports up again; I do not have file drawers full of work samples from previous jobs; and I got rid of the old manual typewriter I held on to for some unknown reason.
There’s probably clutter in your life, your closet or your attic. Clean it out and consider selling some of it.
Free Yourself from Other People’s Expectations
When we moved last year, we left behind everyone we knew. We left behind people I worked with for 20 years, neighbors, friends, and even family. My wife left behind my wife’s yoga friends, her gardening pals, and her church. We started fresh in a new place where no one had any expectations.
It was a great feeling.
Every time I meet someone, I get to make a new first impression. I am no longer defined by what I do for a living. No one expects me to do something because I have done it before. Nobody here remembers me from when I coached their kid or when one of my kids did something stupid at school. No one looks at our house and makes judgements about us because no one knows where we live.
In starting over, we get to make the impression we want and choose the people we want to be associated with. We are using our discretion. Sure, people have helped us and will return the favor. We have also helped others and are already volunteering in the community, but we are doing so on our terms. We are not stuck supporting the United Way because my employer expects it. Likewise, we are not paying dues to a church or union that supports liberal causes with which we disagree.
Free Yourself from Drama
Hand-in-hand with freeing yourself from what others expect of you is freeing yourself from drama. We found taking a step back and refusing to weigh in on either side of a stupid argument is much healthier than getting involved in the minutia of other people’s lives. Gee, so-and-so didn’t invite you to their child’s wedding; too bad, so sad, now move on. The petty things some people get offended by or give a hoot about just amaze me.
Some people are caught up in drama like they never left junior high. Take yourself out of the loop when someone complains about someone or something else. Avoid these negative people are sucking up time and resources that you could spend with your kids or someone you care about and creating angst you don’t need. Slowly but surely remove the drama queens from your life. Their false sense of outrage is a symptom of someone who feels powerless and unimportant. Don’t let their negative energy into your life.
Certain members of our family (who hadn’t visited us for nine years) were not happy that we were moving into the middle of nowhere. They had concerns we were moving too far from a hospital, too far from the airport, too far from what they consider civilization. We moved anyway because where and how we live is none of their business. They are welcome to live their life in a city where security has to escort you to your car after dark; you have to scoop up your dog’s poop, property taxes are in excess of $10,000, and where they sit in traffic jams, pay tolls, and can’t find a parking space.
Exercise your God-Given Rights
Today, I exercised my Second Amendment rights. I installed my old CMMG .22 conversion kit into an AR-15 and used more than 200 rounds to do some low-cost shooting drills. (Sure, the gun had two failures to eject and a stovepipe jam when using .22s, but I considered that good practice.) After that, I moved up to my .30 caliber hunting rifle and fire a nice tight group. I was pleased to see it was sighted in properly and ready for hunting season.
By writing and posting this, I am exercising my first amendment right of free speech. I also didn’t wear my mask.
Thankfully, I didn’t need to exercise any of the other God-given rights set forth in the Bill of Rights, most of which deal with privacy, police powers, and criminal prosecution.
Nonetheless, I think it is important to exercise our rights, to do what we can to keep the government in check, and to remind our elected officials they work for us. Far too many laws and regulations at the Federal ignore the Tenth Amendment.
This last step toward freedom may seem to be less effective than the other four, but it is no less important. Like muscles, rights that are not exercised with regularity tend to atrophy.