Financial Freedom My Only Hope
That line from Jay Z’s 4:44 resonates with me.
I have dedicated my life and passion to the idea that education is the great equalizer for all; it is indeed our civil right. As I’ve progressed through this journey of life, financial education has really come to the crux of what moves people, families, and communities to leading their best lives. Essentially, financial freedom is the driver of living our best lives.
Is financial freedom just about finances? Do you check your financial health the way you check your physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health? What is wealth? How do you create it? What’s the difference between wealth and income? How is wealth distributed in this country across socio-economic class, across race, across gender. Who has opportunities? Who doesn’t? Who has access and in what ways do they have access? In this series, #financialfreedom my only hope, I will explore all those questions and more interspersed with useful information that will help you lead your best financial life.
But first, I’d like to talk a little about my journey. While this series will not necessarily be about me and my experiences, it helps to know the stories and journeys of others.
Often people think there is a linear progression to attaining wealth and success, but the truth is the line often zig zags and is not necessarily a straight line, it can be circular; it can spin back upon each other; it can intersect, reverse, go forward, squiggle, wave. This can often feel like you are going nowhere but every experience, every journey is a step towards getting you to the position where you want be and letting you live your best life.
For a long time, my most steady paycheck was that of being a public school educator, and that is how most people know me – as a thought leader in the education space, either as public school teacher or education consultant. That being said, I’ve been asked how was I able to buy multiple houses/take trips/buy luxury cars/etc on a teacher’s salary…?!!!!
I was a public school teacher for 10 years. I started off with a salary in the 20ks and ended with a salary in the 50ks and now (several years from “retiring” out of the classroom), I have a net and business worth in the high six figures. My friends’, who continued working for the same school system (one of the highest paid in the country), salaries are still in the 60k range in an area that is also one of the most expensive in the country.
So how am I living my best life?
First, I embrace a philosophy from which to live and make decisions – financial freedom.
Second, I leveraged the strength of my credit and my capital.
Credit and capital are key wealth building vehicles.
My salary was one source of income, but I marketed my transferable skills into multiple streams of income. For example, I wrote curriculum for various non-profits and school districts. I taught adult learners. I edited educational textbooks. I worked on various film and theater projects. All while being a teacher in the classroom. So while my salary said 20k, my take home was 40k, and by the time I “retired” from the classroom, my take home was close to 100k. Think about what you do on a day to day in your job/career. What skills do you have? What are the transferable skills that you can market for extra income?
When I was in my mid 20’s, I started caring about my credit and building up my savings account. Before that, my savings was geared towards vacations and other luxuries, not the idea of savings to build my net worth. I decided I was ready to parlay my savings into a wealth and income building vehicle. I did this in various ways – paying myself first, diversifying my investment portfolio with brokerage and money market accounts. I no longer paid for everything out of pocket so I could redirect more funds into my savings accounts.
And so in my late twenties, I leveraged my payment history and my income to buy my first new car, adding another credit line in the process.
After paying out of pocket for one degree and certification, I decided to half finance another degree with loans, which added more to my credit history.
Having built my credit and raised my capital, I bought my first house, which served as principal residence and then an income producing property. It has proven to be a great big first investment having recently appraised at almost twice what I paid for it.
Through this personal journey and with my philosophy in mind, I own and invest in real estate, businesses, have multiple streams of income, capital to use, and credit to leverage.
What have you learned on your personal journey? What is the personal philosophy from which you operate? How can you leverage both your journey and personal philosophy to attain financial freedom?
Kwamara Thompson is the founder and principal of TEC (Thompson Education Consulting), a consulting business that focuses on Financial Education, Business Education, and K-12 Education. To contact Kwamara or TEC, please click here