What Does Freedom Mean to You?



With the 4th of July just around the corner, I have been thinking…  What does freedom mean to me?  


Grateful to be an American

freedomI’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how fortunate I am to live in the United States every day.  This is the country that gave my Norwegian great grandparents the opportunity to pursue their dreams and build a prosperous life here. 


This country also provided my wife’s parents a home upon fleeing an oppressive regime to pursue their dreams.  It’s hard to imagine what life would be like had it not been for the freedoms and promise that the US offered.  I can’t imagine I would have met my wife if both of our families hadn’t chosen to immigrate to this great country.


This is one of the many reasons that I am honored to work for our government and provide my talents and skills as a way to thank the United States for its generosity towards our families.  


Mixed Messages

Right now, the media tends to highlight the animosity among different people, when in fact, most of us are pursuing similar milestones.  When it comes down to it, we are all humans.  We all have unique gifts and talents, and we all undergo good and difficult experiences.


freedomAs I described in my gratitude post, at times, we can have false expectations.  Society sometimes seeks to define what our lives should look like, whether it’s getting top grades and going to the best college, ways to become more attractive, or the type of house we really need.


To me, most of these messages are useless lies.


I’m getting a bit tired of society telling me what I do and don’t need, or what I should or shouldn’t do.  I bet if you took a poll today, that you would find that most people admire or try to emulate the lifestyle of the Kardashians.  Society has conditioned us to think that this is what happiness looks like.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  But there is a reason that these celebrities have over a hundred million followers.  People are captivated and fascinated by their lavish lifestyles and the way they flaunt their wealth.  If there was a filter on Google or Yahoo that could block me from ever having to hear about these famously obnoxious people again, I’d be all too happy to use it.  


Making Our Own Decisions

We, as individuals, have the freedom to decide which messages we will take to heart and which we will reject.  While media and society are both very convincing at times, we should use our autonomy to say yes and no to exactly what aligns with our personal convictions.


So think about what freedom means to you.  How does it impact your dreams and desires?  More importantly, what is holding you back from reaching these dreams?


Material Things

freedomI hope your dreams and desires do not include accumulating more stuff.


According to IBISworld, our society spent $32.7 billion on self-storage in 2016.  That figure is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.5% over the next five years.  That means in the next 5 years, our society will spend almost $40 billion on self-storage in order for us to make room to buy more stuff.  


But as you know, stuff doesn’t always make us happy.  


An Expensive Hobby

freedom collectiblesI had a friend tell me that he picked up an expensive baseball card collecting hobby because the thrill of the buy was a high that he couldn’t get elsewhere.  He started out spending small amounts of money.  But when his collection grew, he had to spend more in order to continue to feel the thrill and gain more valuable cards.


This, in turn, also caused him to fall into deep credit card debt.


One day, early on his collecting career, I asked him why he would go into debt for these baseball cards.  He responded with something along the lines of, “I want them now, and I work hard.  It’s no big deal.  I’ll pay off the debt later.”


Unfortunately, that mentality is all too common.  In my opinion though, debt is a slippery slope.


That was two years ago.  He recently confessed to me that things have gotten a little out of hand.  Now he is five figures into credit card debt due to his hobby.  


According to the figures, my friend is not alone.  The latest American family with credit card debt has accumulated balances over $16,000.


Discontent at Work

freedomMy friend doesn’t even like the job that he has.  But, this isn’t surprising since 2/3 of Americans are actively disengaged at work.  


Yes, 67% of people at work really don’t want to be there.


At work, when people use to complain about an assigned, mundane task, an old boss of mine would respond with, “It’s just work.  Suck it up.”  


I don’t know about you, but I’m not content with the response, “suck it up”.  I know I’m not alone.


So if 67% of people despise their jobs but can’t leave because of debt and other expenses, why can’t we create another outcome and improve our lives?


Let’s flip the script.  Instead of society telling us how to prioritize, let’s conduct an audit of our lives.  


Freedom from Stuff

First, why don’t we go through and sell all of our junk?  Today.  Don’t wait because the longer we do, the more we justify that we really need our excess stuff.  I firmly believe that too much stuff can cause us to feel trapped instead of light and free.  


freedomIn her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo says,


“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”


So, I challenge you to go around the house with two differently colored post-it note pads.  Then start to identify your excess possessions.  Stick everything that you think has value that can be sold with one color.  With the other colored post-it note, stick everything that you can trash or donate.  


It may be easy to sit back and relax after you determine the categorization for each item.  But don’t wait.  Continue on!



freedomStart donating and selling.  Put some effort into it.  Utilize eBay and Craigslist.  My wife even recently bought a shipping scale so that she doesn’t have to walk into a post office anymore.  It’s way too easy not to sell using eBay or other online marketplaces now.


Here’s another important part.  After you sell the stuff, avoid the temptation to buy new stuff with the newly acquired cash.  Instead, start paying off your debt.  


Change Your Mindset

In order to work less at a jobs we dislike, we need to spend less on things that don’t actually bring us joy.  


freedomRight now, most of us our caught in an endless loop.  


We wake up, go to a job we hate, come home, buy stuff that we think will make us happy, and then we rinse and repeat this cycle.  


It’s time that this cycle ends.  


We need to wake up, go to the job we hate, come home, figure out how to leave the job we hate, and rinse and repeat until we have found a beneficial alternative to the current job.  


Pursuing a New Goal

freedomFor me personally, it’s become more and more evident that my top desire is to provide financial coaching.  I want to build people up and equip them to be financially savvy.  


I’ve shared before that I am an extreme introvert.  While I have to speak publicly at work, I don’t look forward to it.  I have to practice a ton in order to feel comfortable.  


On the other hand, when I’m asked about money matters, I become an extrovert.  Even though my current job has nothing to do with personal finance, I always look for opportunities to share my financial knowledge and encourage others at work.


For a long time, I struggled with my purpose in life.  But now, I have finally found it.  I’m running towards FIRE so that I can be a financial coach to help as many people as I can.


I’m diligently cutting down on my expenses because everyday that I am not living my passion is another day that feels less than optimal.


What does freedom mean to me?

First off, it means avoiding debt.  Debt can be cruel, crippling bondage.  


Freedom also means not listening to the messages that bombard me and deciding what’s best for myself.  


It means eliminating things in my life that don’t bring me joy and looking for opportunities to break free from monotonous jobs.  


freedomIt means having the courage to say “no” to the herd mentality.  Instead of seeking a lavish lifestyle, I’ll choose my own life path.  The best part is, all of these pursuits of freedom can be achieved in the great United States.  We live in an amazing country!


So readers what is freedom to you?

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


    • Thanks for sharing Grant!!! Freedom of choice is so huge and something I take for granted at times. We are really lucky to live in the time period we do.

  1. That was a nice ‘Declaration of Independence’ MSM! It sounds like you have found your purpose and are moving quickly to realize to get there.

    Freedom to me is having the opportunity to take care of my family while choosing the best way for me to do that. I couldn’t imagine living in the communist USSR of yesteryears where you were basically told what you were going to do the rest of your life.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…Ireland and England on $141 a DayMy Profile

    • I am definitely glad we don’t live in a time when we’re told what to think anymore. The freedom of the press is great along with the censor free zones that are on the internet. Information is at our finger tip which is wonderful 🙂

    • I love that you are using your freedom to promote good in your community and change other lives for the better. Awesome goals and an awesome use of time!!!

  2. Woah woah, hold on cowboy, there’s a filter on Google for celebrity racket?! Oh my God, what have I been not missing.

    It’s really a privilege, no a miracle, to be here. I sometimes think about what life may have been like if my family didn’t immigrate. I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband, gone to school (long story, I wasn’t allowed to attend public school in China because of politics), commenting on this post in my PJs at 4AM eating a Jack in the Box crispy chicken sandwich.

    God I love this country. I can’t even fathom it right now. We’re lucky enough to land in the small window of mankind during one of the golden ages in the wealthiest nation in history! I can almost cartwheel.
    Lily @ The Frugal Gene recently posted…12 Surprising Things AirBnB Guests Love And HateMy Profile

  3. My son has that exact peddle car under the picture next to hustle…..

    Freedom to me is all about choice. I can choose my path and future I’m not born into it. Sure birth makes things easier or harder. But it doesn’t mean I can never change my position.

    Happy fourth.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…When and how to Teach Kids About FinanceMy Profile

    • Happy fourth of July to you as well!!! I definitely am glad that where I am born does not define what I can be. It’s a great time to be alive 🙂

    • We are definitely on the same page. Helping others in an area that I find fascinating will be fun. It’s just a matter of how quickly I can get there 🙂

  4. I tend to be obsessed with freedom. When people are in debt, they are not free. Having no debt and many years of living expenses saved is the key to being able to live life on your own terms. Happy 4th of July.
    Dave recently posted…The Vanguard Star FundMy Profile

  5. Happy Fourth of July to all! To me, freedom is having choices. And before our frugal overhaul in 2015, we really didn’t have choices. But it was due to our own decisions, so we have no one to blame but ourselves. We had to do a complete 180 with our approach to money. It was a lot of hard work and we failed a lot (and still do), but it’s been worth the freedom we now have. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! July 2My Profile

  6. Great post! It’s hard for me now the mentality of “I’ll pay it later.” I think there are a LOT of people in financial denial! Freedom to me means basically the same stuff as you. I’m going to be downgrading my job and if I hand’t been diligent about saving, I’d panic about it, but instead I’m pretty much going with the flow about it. Something I could not have said 5 years ago.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…June Rewind: Life Re-OrganizedMy Profile

  7. For me, freedom is the ability for each person to pursue their own dreams, without interference from government entities, provided that they don’t break the laws of the land (which I believe should be as minimal as possible).Consider me a small “L” libertarian (A big “L” libertarian is the type that believes we shouldn’t even have traffic laws, etc.).

    That includes folks who decide they need to go into 5-digit debt for baseball cards, and those that want a minimal house & car, and financial independence.

    I agree that I’ve gotten the FIRE coaching “bug” as well (I’ve had it for years, and counsel students and others when asked). I hope you get the opportunity to spread the word.

    Mr. 39 months
    Kevin@39months.com recently posted…Mid Year UpdateMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Kevin!! I have a similar philosophy that we should be able to pursue our happiness, for the most part, as long as it doesn’t affect others 🙂

  8. Happy 4th and I too feel fortunate to be in this country. An amazing place indeed. I read this as I am about to go to work and wished I was staying home instead. I am definitely in the 67%. Life is too short. So let’s keep our eye on the prize and focus on what we need to so we can reach our goals.
    Dads Dollars Debts recently posted…Paying off debt as asset protectionMy Profile

  9. Happy 4th of July! We have an incredible opportunity in this country, it’s just up to the individual to take advantage of it. Freedom is the ability to follow our dreams!

  10. Freedom to me is being able to do what I want, when I want. We are fortunate enough to be able to live in a country where we are allowed this opportunity.

    Financial freedom is another subject and this takes freedom a step further. Financial freedom is being able to spend money without having to worry about your income/assets.

    Happy 4th MSM 🙂
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…My Goal to Read 75 Books – June 2017 Check-inMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Erik!!! We are living in an incredible society where we can pursue our heart’s desires. Definitely a great time to be alive 🙂

  11. Freedom means that my only criteria to do things are the joy they bring to me. Not the most money ,not what society thinks, not what looks good on LinkedIn. Just what gives me purpose

  12. For me, true freedom is the ability to use my time how I want (within the bounds of the law, of course). And the only way I see that happening is through financial independence. I think that freedom is also a mindset – the ability to feel positive and happy even when everyone else is promoting doom and gloom.

    Feeling discontent as work is a hard one to overcome – the money and security can be hard to leave. But freedom seldom comes easily!

    Oh yeah – Happy 4th of July!!
    Matt @ Profitable Matters recently posted…Introduction to Cryptocurrency: What Is Bitcoin?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Matt!!! I agree until we are financially free it’s hard to maximize some of the other things that bring us joy. It takes hard work to get to financial freedom and it is hard for a reason 🙂

  13. Great post, Rob! I love that you know your purpose in life and are running towards it. 🙂

    Freedom is so many things, but probably most of all it is the ability to be me on my own terms.

  14. Once again, an amazing post MSM. Nothing but great things to say. I agree with every single one of your points here and I love the fact that you have such a positive attitude and are looking to make the changes to pursue the dreams and goals that YOU want in life. You’re right, in the US (and other countries of course, but not all), you have the right to choose your own destiny. I freaking love your attitude and it is motivating me to try to continue paying off debt and becoming debt-free/minimal in my life style.
    Thanks for the great read. Enjoy the 4th!

    Dividend Diplomats recently posted…The Diplomats’ June Side Hustle ReportMy Profile

  15. “We wake up, go to a job we hate, come home, buy stuff that we think will make us happy, and then we rinse and repeat this cycle.”

    I love this part! So true. We are so illogical. It’s not working, and instead of breaking the cycle, we double down thinking the problem is just that we’re just not buying the right or exclusive enough stuff. Great post!
    JT@JustMakingCents recently posted…Five Books to Help Teach Your Kids About MoneyMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing JT!!! I definitely agree that we need to break the cycle if we’re not happy with where we’re at. Hopefully I can jump off fairly soon 🙂

  16. It’s all about choice. I like having the ability to save my money towards any future I can imagine and I hope that doesn’t change. We have so many options as Americans that don’t exist for a large portion of the world and some of us do take it for granted sometimes – even myself. I’m lucky enough that my parents moved here when I was young and I got all the opportunities I did and I want to make sure I don’t squander it and instead try to build a life here that means something.

  17. Someone stopped by this morning to potentially buy a table and chair outdoor set I have, but decided it’s kind of big for their space. Sigh. Oh well, I’ll keep trying to sell it or eventually donate it. Happy 4th!
    SMM recently posted…Bye CDs – Well Hello There DividendsMy Profile

  18. This is a great piece MSM. I agree that there is too much of a herd mentality in our society. We need to break free of it and really start to make decisions for ourselves.

    Freedom to me is being able to pursue what I want to do base on my own capabilities. Your success is mainly determined by your abilities and what values you can bring to society. I am also grateful that I live in Canada and have the opportunity to build a better life for myself.

    Can’t wait to read your post when you reach your FIRE date. I am curious to experience the full financial coach in you.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com recently posted…My 2017 Net Worth Performance Review – Q2My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! I love that we have the freedom to pursue what we want. Not everyone has that freedom and it’s amazing that we have that ability today 🙂

  19. It’s tough. Material stuff and money aren’t the end-all-be-all. I know that in my head. But a lot of times it’s hard because the pull is strong. I think the comfort that money brings me is both the biggest bad and good in my personal life. Good because I don’t squander my money. But bad because I don’t want money to be my idol. I think it’ll be a life-long battle.
    Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash recently posted…Invest in Bitcoin?!?!My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Tim!!! I walk the same fine line that you do. It’s definitely hard to have a healthy view of money especially when you’re fully aware of the benefits along with the downside. It’s something I’m working on as well.

  20. Great post! Absolutely, we have a ton to be grateful for here and now. I love your passion for financial coaching! Isn’t it cool how even introverts can become extroverted when talking about stuff that truly matters to them?
    Mrs. COD recently posted…I’m Back…My Profile

    • I honestly never knew I could be so extraverted in a topic but I could talk all my co-workers ears off. Thankfully they give me a forum to share 🙂

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