Finding Financial Independence in the New World

Finding Financial Independence in the New World

how to reach financial independence, financial freedomClick on the link to listen rather than read:

Finding Financial Independence in the New World

I sat like a little kid, with big scissors and tiny scissors.  Glue sticks.  Cardboard.  And a bunch of magazines I had around the house:  The Economist, Entrepreneur, Wired, a Chico’s catalog, Wharton magazine and MORE (‘The Best-Selling Magazine for Women Over 40”).

        (Click on the image to enlarge)

My instructions were to cut out images and put together collages that appealed to me, that “said” something to me.  (We’d worry later about what they meant.)

The more I cut and pasted, the more I felt like I was back in third grade.  It felt so good, I was still at it at 2 a.m., when I finally tore myself away and made myself go to bed.  I had several pieces of soul-reflecting artwork to look at in the morning.

The collage you see above is the one I love the most.  It sits over my computer screen so I can see it whenever I look up.  It influences my decisions and inspires me to keep moving forward.

Let me tell you what I see in it.

The New Economy = The New World

After the economic tsunami of 2008, everything changed.  All the “economic rules” we thought we could count on went wonky.  Financial markets no longer reacted as we thought they should, because government intervention skewed things with gushes of newly printed money.   When things should have gone up, they went down.  And some things even went sideways.

The one safe investment we all counted on—the equity in our houses–betrayed us.  Funds flip-flopped like a dying fish on the sand.  Stocks took a steep nose-dive, then climbed back up against all logic.  Gold spiraled up on every piece of bad news, and tumbled on every good report.

Interest rates hovered around zero, making savings accounts losers.  Official inflation rates stayed around an artificial 1-2 percent while real prices in supermarkets skyrocketed by 15, 25 and 50 percent.  To this day, my clients ask me where they can invest their savings safely.  And to this day I say, “Diversify, diversify, diversify.”  And then I add, “Be sure to also invest in you.”

[The little upside-down strip of Economist magazine along the left on my collage represents all the reports, analyses and tables that reflect what used to be sacrosanct.  Today the numbers are so manipulated, they’re virtual fantasy.]

Money Does Grow on Trees

The number of people who were shaken out of their slumber since 2008 is huge.  Suddenly jobs were no longer a source of security.  Many landed in unemployment lines, trying to figure out where they fit in the new economic reality.  And many were surprised by the powerful entrepreneurial juices they didn’t even realize flowed through their veins.

These entrepreneurs are the people who are no longer letting bosses or corporate policy determine how much they can make.  They’re the ones risking their fortunes in the marketplace of concepts with their business ideas, many of which grew out of their real interests (or passions) in life.  They’re reaching for financial independence.

Not all will succeed.  And no one said it would be easy.  But they have a far better shot at picking money off those money trees in my collage than people who are sitting around, waiting for the post-industrial economy to decide where there might be an opportunity for them.

Financial success may actually come from a quilt of patched-together activities, rather than from a single job.  Or one half of a couple may work in traditional business, while the other reaches for the brass ring.

In any case, they have taken back responsibility for financial independence, for their own well-being and that of their families.  Besides redefining how they earn money, they’re also redefining their lifestyles and what their retirement will look like.  Taking action, then course correcting, is their mantra.

Limitless Potential

See the ocean backdrop in the collage?

That to me represents what technology has done for us in the past decade or two:  it has opened up the entire world and given us access to its vast markets.  No longer are we constrained by geography or by high costs of entry into different businesses.

Granted, no business can be set up for free.  But the old costs of “being in business” have diminished greatly.  Websites replace brick-and-mortar display cases.  Social media and online advertising replace the Yellow Pages and magazine ads.  Skype and Vonage have cut communications costs down to size.

And, once a business concept offers true value to its potential market, wave after wave of prospects roll in and swirl in the foam at our feet.  It’s then up to us to serve them competitively and well—and to turn them into loyal customers.

Never has the uncertainty of traditional business been greater.  But then, never has the potential been greater for those willing to reinvent themselves to fit into The New World and offer goods and services that truly meet the needs of the consumers of today.

Let me know in the comment section below what you’ve done to align yourself with the economic reality of today to ensure your own financial independence.

Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers are shared in her posts, articles and an upcoming book. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • I totally agree with your assessment of this new world we are all maneuvering our way through. Certainty and security are things we are now realizing are in our own hands to create. As a result of this financial shift, in my work with parents, I am also seeing the effects on the dynamics of families…more and more people are turning back toward the family unit as more parents are working from home taking advantage of the unlimited possibilities to earn money online. And this is a good thing! Excellent article!

    • What you’re finding with families, Denny, may be one of the healthiest side benefits of this difficult economy. And you’re right, the more control you have over your own destiny, the better.

  • Wow this article hit home for sure! I watched so many people I love go through such hardship – myself included. Once you lose everything it becomes cemented that you never want to go through it again. For myself, I decided to get laser focused on creating success with my businesses and became much more productive and valuable to my clients. I know that for myself, I will continue on the quest to make myself financially free and to control my own destiny and not leave it at the mercy of anyone else!!!

    • That’s the only way to go, Michelle! It may not be a guarantee, but (with a few exceptions, including government jobs) it’s the best option going forward. Besides, some of us diehard entrepreneurs wouldn’t know how to do otherwise … 😉

  • Sondra

    Awesome Sharon. I know for me, as a
    small business owner for 17 years, the economic spiral was a wakeup call to just how
    much debt we were carrying. I became laser focused on becoming debt free. My
    husband may even say a little “fanatical” about it, but I’m proud to say it’s
    worked. I refuse to allow myself to become afraid to spend money but I am
    mindful of where I spend it and intentionally seek out other small business
    entrepreneurs to support.

    • Besides the peace of mind that comes from what you and your husband achieved, Sondra, comes the empowering feeling of being in control. Isn’t it grand? Congratulations!

  • Alexandra McAllister

    Great article, Sharon. I am in the midst of realigning not only my financial independence but my personal life as well. Before spending money, I now think about it twice and then some! I love the way you shared how, as a child, you’d sit with a pair of scissors, glue sticks and cardboard! I did that as well! Love it! Thanks for sharing.

    • When I was a kid, Alexandra, we had no glue sticks. And, being raised overseas, no Elmer’s Glue either! But I do remember large pots of white liquid-y stuff and long, sticky brushes … In fact, I can still smell it! 😉 Doing it again brought back all those wonderful memories …

  • Very interesting article Sharon. Cutting and pasting is not only fun but gives a good indication of what you ‘see’ for the future.

    • We use whatever tools we can, right, Maggie? Sometimes we just need something to open a new line of thought!

  • Some really interesting points you make here Sharon especially about how technology has opened up new possibilities. It’s a question of adapting and I think that’s what I feel I have to do financially. Priorities change but the income has to be stretched further and I’ve had to be a bit more creative in managing my money!

    • “Being a bit more creative” in managing your money can also mean greater control, because you’re paying more attention to it, Carolyn. So many expenditures are made “just because,” not because they are essential or really the best use of our money in the long run. So yours is a healthy outlook!

  • olga hermans

    I like the way you make this complicated journey for many of us so simple; it is simple if we only would get ourselves in alignment with what works. The way we treat momey says so much of ourselves, that it is important that we have an honest look at ourselves as you mentioned; great advice!

    • Olga, none of this is terribly complicated if we take each small piece on its own. It’s when we look at the entire picture, with all the competing possibilities, that it seems a little overwhelming. One piece at a time … action … one piece at a time … action … 😉

  • I like that collage, it is very inspiring. Glad to be on this entrepreneur journey with you : )

    • I’m glad you’re on it with me too, Karla!

  • This is an amazing article, Sharon. Taking action and course correcting is definitely my mantra. I loved how you share the process of making your collage and finding financial independence in the new world. Thanks!

    • That collage process was actually pretty revealing, Lisa! You might want to try it as a stress-reducing tool in your stress management coaching … just have people sit quietly with a bunch of magazines and have them select, cut out and assemble a few images. You never know … 😉

  • Another great article, Sharon (and I love your collage – very creative!!). To grab control of my financial security, I actually tracked each and every expense through Quicken for two years to get a solid picture of where I spent money and how I could cut back and I downsized to a very small (but adequate) house at the same time. The latter has made maintenance and upkeep easily doable, given me a lot more time because I’m not always looking for that thing, and of course, cost effective. I also took control of my investments and re-evaluated how I spent my
    time in my business (for a long time — doing too many things, which
    made all of them ineffective, it seemed). Had life not turned upside down for me, I’d likely never have done all of that because it did take time (which I’d always viewed as time away from more important things). It’s paid off, however, and has given me a peace of mind at this age that I would never have had.

    • Lisa, I also went through a major simplification which gave me the space to sit quietly and figure things out. And I have felt no need to go back to what was perceived to be the American Dream. Your gift for having gone through such upheaval is the peace of mind you enjoy today!

  • I love the vision board, love it! The post is also fantastic because it addresses realities and also give hope and provides a solution. I think you should make your vision board into a pin. In fact, I’ll pin it right now.

    • Thanks for pinning it, Sherry. As for providing a solution, so often knowledge is right at our fingertips but we need help seeing it. And that’s what the collage did for me!

  • Love your collage, what a creative way to “see” money! This is the part of your post that struck home for me: ”
    Financial success may actually come from a quilt of patched-together activities, rather than from a single job.” I really believe that for a lot of us, that is the new reality. Great post, thank you for this, Sharon.

    • I’ve believed in “quilts” for entrepreneurs for years, Sherie. Just like trying to invest in financial markets in these uncertain times, having more than one activity forms the equivalent of diversification, which lowers risk.

  • You are so cool! Not only do I LOVE your collage, but I adore your message. As a new entrepreneur (3 years), I feel that I am one of the lucky ones in the sea of reinventions! Thanks so much for this timely article!

    • Congratulations, Martha! This time of reinventions has not been bad for everyone, especially not for those willing to be flexible and to fulfill a true need of the consumer.

  • i love reading your post1 i so need to get busy with this!

    • Yes, you do, Liz! As I say when asked about the timing of steps towards financial independence: it’s never too early and it’s never too late! 😉

  • Jamie

    You have such a GREAT way of framing stuff. I loved reading through your article Sharon!

    • Thank you, Jamie. I’m so glad the message comes through for you!

  • I love that you did a collage (how creative!) and then shared what the different elements mean!

    • Everything is fair game when it comes to writing (hopefully) thoughtful blogs, Meryl!

  • Love your blog Sharon:)

  • Pingback: Blogs from my friends – awesome list to explore!! « Bruce/Sally Witt, Social Media & Ministry()

  • Sharon, I love your blog. As you know, I am helping people around the world learn the basic steps to earning money online for free. The best place to start for information is my site http://122walnut.com. Thank you for letting us share!

    • A lot of people just need to get a toe-hold, Sally. So what you’re offering is very powerful. Good for you for doing that!

  • Sharon, I love reading your articles and I totally agree – you have such a GREAT way of framing stuff. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Anastasiya, for dropping by and leaving such kind words! 😉

  • What a great inspiring post! 2008 did mess everyone up financially but if we are smart we will regain what we lost. Maybe not in the same sense, but we will survive.

    • Mandy, so many have had to reinvent themselves. The “upside” is that many also let go of a lot of baggage–things they had been carrying more out of habit than choice–and created lives that reflect much better who they are and what they stand for …

  • Sharon, you spoke to me with this article today. I was just starting my business(es) when the economy went into meltdown mode and I struggled through the last several years. I’ve been working literally 4 part-time jobs, some for other people, some for myself, to keep going these last couple of years. You can make it in today’s economy, you just may not be able to relay on the old traditional methods. Be open to new ideas, embrace technology and think out of the box! Great article Sharon. Thanks so much.

    • Lisa, I don’t see us going back to where we were in 2007 anytime soon. I feel many of the changes have been structural and require the flexibility you’ve shown. Yet, with the attributes you mentioned (ideas/technology/out-of-box thinking), we can reinvent ourselves successfully …

  • I think some times when the economy tanks it forces us to be more creative and pull out of our self things we wouldn’t have other wise.
    Thank you for sharing your posts and excellent advice!

    • These times really do call for creativity, MarVeena. While in many ways it’s tougher, many may find themselves more fulfilled … if they can piece together a business that gives them the foundational income.