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5 Sep 2016

Are You Working For A Paycheck Or Your Freedom?

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by Lindsey Burgess

In six weeks, I will be attending my 20-year high school reunion. Which is super weird.

It makes me think about a lot of things: how much easier my life would have been if hair straighteners had existed, why we thought overalls were so flattering, and how I’m exactly the same person I was (except with better hair and no overalls).

It’s also caused me to mark and measure other milestones in my life. I mean, it kind of snuck up on me, but I’ve been working full-time for 16 years now.

That represents so many friendships and mistakes and promotions and lessons and new experiences. And so many hours writing and brainstorming and pitching and writing and planning and writing.

In those 16 years, I got married and had two kids. I bought two houses. I moved states, several times actually. But the constant—the most prominent, consistent thing—has been my work. Which is also sort of weird, when I really stop to think about it.

Most of us will work for a very big part of our lives. And if we are lucky, we will find something that we love to do—that certainly helps—but it is still a job that we need to pay the bills.

The older I get (and right now I am feeling very old), I’m aware that, yes, I do work pretty hard. And it would be easy to justify this splurge or this reward or that thing to help make life easier. Because I deserve it. I work so hard.

Except that the only real reward I can give myself is freedom.

I’m not working for more stuff. I’m working for my future freedom.

And the road to freedom isn’t all that free. It requires intentionality, discipline, and sacrifice.

The more money we have socked away, the more we budget for the future, and the more respect we have for every dollar, the more options we have.

To me, at this stage of the game, options are everything. They are a luxury and a privilege. Options are freedom.

I am not working for more stuff. I am working for my future freedom.

My budget tells me that I shouldn’t buy the Rebecca Minkoff purse that is haunting me online. Could I buy it? Sure. Can I afford it? Technically, yes I can. But it won’t get me closer to freedom. It doesn’t give me more options. And for right now, that makes my choice super simple.

I am not working for more stuff. I am working for my future freedom.

Right now, I genuinely love my job—and except for the mornings where no one can find their shoes, and I forgot about the spelling words and there is a four-year-old meltdown about the color blue—I am excited to sit down at my desk and dig in.

But I’m not working to pay the electric bill or get a new couch. Well, not entirely anyway. Of course, my salary helps pay the bills and feed the children (even though, we throw away far more food than they actually eat. So annoying. Probably another post. Am I the only one?).

Much more than that, though, today I am working. We want to use every dollar purposefully—and with our heads pointed toward the future—and a day when we might not have to.

I am not working for more stuff. I am working for my future freedom.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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