Steps to becoming financially free while being financially responsible.
Have an emergency fund that starts with at least one months mortgage or rent. So if your rent is $1000, you should have $1000 in an emergency fund. If your mortgage is $1500 you should have $1500 in an emergency fund. Then build up to 3 months worth of monthly bills but always have one month of money to cover your place to live.
Get Rid of your BAD debt. Before you focus too much on retirement planning and investing, are you carrying any bad debt or high interest rate debt? Don’t earn 5-7% in a 401(k) while paying 28% on a credit card. Getting rid of bad debt will increase your ability to save and invest.
If you have family members that depend upon your income, make sure you have some kind of life insurance coverage. You never know when your time on earth will end. Leave your family in a strong position and have confidence that if something happened to you, you created an instant pool of money to take care of loved ones.
Become a good saver. What you save each year will be higher than what your investments can produce for many many years, so put the responsibility on what you can do versus what your investments can do. If you can save $3600 a year or $300 a month, that's equivalent to having $72,000 earning 5%. Once you become a good saver, then you must start investing so your money can earn compound interest and go to work for you each day.
Build up a small food storage and water storage. You never know when you might find yourself in an emergency, out of a job or living with rising food prices. Add a few extra cans or boxes each week. After a year you'll have a nice size emergency food and water collection to help you weather life's storms.
Depending on where you live, typically homeownership will result in more wealth and a bigger net worth than renting. Learn about first time homebuyer programs and save for a down payment. Homeownership is almost always better than renting because a portion of every payment goes into your home equity. A home is a great forced savings payment and you have to have a place to live.
These 6 ideas are only a few of the many steps it takes to become financially independent but they are the best 6 to get you started on the road to financial freedom.