Last week, I hiked King’s Peak. As the tallest peak in Utah, King’s Peak tops out at 13,528 feet. It’s a grueling, 26-mile backpacking adventure with a four thousand vertical feet climb. However, the view from the top can’t be beat. As you stand at the summit, you can’t help but admire the beauty all around you. The majestic mountains, the serene lakes, and the glacier-carved valleys can literally take your breath away – with the help of the high elevation.
As I stood at the summit, I found myself comparing this hard, yet incredible hike to financial independence. We are all striving to reach our goal of financial security. Whether we’re at the beginning of that journey or are close to reaching the summit, we all have our sights set on reaching the top and enjoying that well-earned view.
Part of what makes the view from the summit so spectacular, is knowing how hard the journey was. That’s the same way with financial independence – you can appreciate it more because you know how hard it was to achieve it. Let’s take a look at the journey you may take to reach your financial summit:
The Parking Lot: As you stand in the parking lot of your financial journey, you’re excited and a little bit naïve about the hard work ahead. You’ve decided that it’s time to get to work and you’re ready to get started. This is the most important step along your journey – the part where you decide it’s time to make a change and you charge forward with determination. Keep that determination in mind as you set your sights on your summit to financial independence.
Follow the Trail: The trail that leads to financial independence is often clearly marked. Get out of debt and invest your money. Start by paying off your student loans and credit card debt. Then establish a cash emergency fund. Follow that up by investing your money into your retirement funds (401k, IRA, real estate…). Be wise with your finances and you’ll discover how to make your money work for you, instead of you working for your money.
Choose the Path That’s Best For You: Sometimes along the trail to financial independence, you might find yourself at a fork in the road. One trail could lead to a harder, faster route, and the other trail may lead you to a slower, slightly easier trail to the top. It’s good to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses at this point. If you have the capability to charge forward and take the harder route of budgeting strictly, taking financial business risks, or investing half of your income into retirement funds, then go for it. It’s harder, but you’ll reach the summit much faster. However, if you’d like to choose a route that is a little easier, you can still make it to your destination, just a little slower. You can take time to take in the scenery a little more and enjoy the journey. You’ll reach the same destination either way, it just depends on what your priorities are in life.
Set Your Sights On The Summit: As you come to the end of your journey, you’ll go around a corner and the summit will appear right before your eyes. At this point, you’re so close; all you need to do now is get there. This can often be the hardest part of the hike. You’re so tired from all the work you’ve put into getting to this point, yet there’s still much more work to put into getting to that summit. But you’re almost there! Don’t give up now.
I have a friend who decided that she wanted to get out of debt. She put together a strict budget and started working towards financial freedom. After a year of strict budgeting, she told her husband if they could continue to live frugally for one more year, they’d get rid of all their debt. Her husband thought about it and decided that was too hard and he went out and bought an expensive truck. She decided that if he could buy a truck, she could take out a loan equally as large for whatever she wanted and they ended up in a worse financial situation than before she started their financial journey towards independence.
Don’t lose sight of your financial independence. Keep the summit in your sights and charge forward. You’re almost there!
Reaching the Summit: The path to financial independence is rocky and treacherous, but the view from the summit is absolutely worth it. The knowledge that you have enough saved to live comfortably for an indefinite amount of time is quite breathtaking. Once you’ve reached the summit, you’ve achieved your goal and now you get to sit back and reap the rewards. The world is yours to conquer and the path you decide to take from here is up to you. Take a minute to enjoy the view.
Climbing your mountain to financial independence can be hard and frustrating. At times, you may wonder if it’s even worth it. But, don’t give up. You can do this. With hard work and determination, you can conquer this mountain.