Freedom vs. Liberty
We often hear about the idea of “financial freedom.” I argue it’s the most overused and ballyhooed phrase in the personal finance industry.
In fact, following most of the mainstream advice that supposedly leads to financial freedom leads to nothing but mediocrity.
Pay off your debt… Create a budget… Save your money…
Hmmm… Earth-shattering ideas, right? That must be how Buffett made his fortune.
Let me explain all of this in a different way. When I’m done, I think you’ll clearly see where so many of these debt-free, get-rich-slowly pitches go wrong.
Let’s start by defining two key terms: freedom and liberty.
We often think the two terms are interchangeable. Really, they are not. There are critical differences. Understanding them will change the way you think about money.
Freedom is a word with German origin that simply means the ability to make decisions or perform actions without external control.
But liberty, with its French roots, means freedom that has been granted by some sort of external element, typically our society or government.
Boiled down… freedom is something we are born with. Liberty is something we must fight for.
For example, America’s Founding Fathers believed freedom was a God-given right, and that it is up to the government to grant its citizens the liberties to take advantage of that right.
But we argue they got it wrong. Yes, it’s up to some sort of external force. But no government will ever grant true liberty.
The true answer is wealth. Nothing has liberated more people than wealth.
At this point, I hope you’re seeing huge gaps between the ideas of financial freedom and liberty through wealth.
By the very nature of our being, we all have the freedom to travel where we want and when we want, and to do what we want. We simply don’t have the liberty to do it. And it’s not our government holding us back.
It’s our wealth.
Likewise, we’re all free to pick the occupation we want. There’s no law that says one person must be a teacher and another must be a doctor. If we’ve got the freedom, then why are most folks toiling at a job they don’t love?
You know the answer… It’s because their wealth has not liberated them.
In his book An Embarrassment of Riches, The Oxford Club’s Chief Investment Strategist Alexander Green lists four primary benefits of wealth accumulation. They are all forms of liberty.
The first is that, if you have money, you don’t have everyday anxieties about it. “Folks who aren’t sure they can make the rent, afford insurance or ever retire comfortably,” he writes, “are plagued by worries that never cross the minds of those with some level of financial security.”
Money offers peace of mind. It’s liberating.
The second is that money liberates you to pursue your passions.
“One of the reasons I was able to save a lot as a young man,” Alex says, “is that my primary pastimes were reading, swimming, tennis and hiking. These require very little financial commitment.” Because he focused on low-cost activities, it wasn’t hard for Alex to liberate his passions, even with the limited wealth of youth.
But as we mentioned above, it’s not just our hobbies. Financial liberty also gives us the ability to take a job that may be less lucrative but more fulfilling.
Third, we’re all free to spend as much time with friends and family as we like. But it’s money that truly liberates the idea. Only with wealth can you take advantage of your freedom.
“And finally,” Alex writes, “money is not just about doing well. It is also about doing good. You can aid a friend or family member who needs a helping hand. Or you can donate to some worthy cause.” Again, we’re all free to give until it hurts. But only wealth offers the liberty to make it happen.
Of course, all of this begs a very tough question. How do you get there?
The answer, from my own experience, is where the idea of “financial freedom” fails and “liberty through wealth” thrives.
All those high-polished pitches for financial freedom are not wrong. But they are far from right. They’ll get you out of poverty, but they won’t get you where you truly want to go.
They won’t push you above mediocrity.
To escape that trap, you absolutely must think differently. It takes risk. It takes a shrewd understanding of the markets. And it takes a very real commitment to build wealth.
You already have freedom. You were born with it. Now you – and only you – must liberate it.
Editorial Director, The Oxford Club
P.S. If you’re looking for Steve McDonald’s popular “Slap in the Face” Award (SITFA) segment, we have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: While Steve will continue to share his thoughts on bonds and other income-generating strategies with Investment U, the weekly SITFA video will no longer appear in our Sunday mailing. The good news, however, is that Steve will be producing MORE video content for our sister site Wealthy Retirement. The site has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. If you haven’t checked it out, you can do so by clicking here.
About Andy Snyder
Andy did what most of us can only dream of. He left our bustling society to rough it in the Alaskan wilderness – no roads, no electricity, nothing but the outdoors and his sharp mind. While there, he met with top investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe, all seeking out his expertise. His experience inspired the idea for his unique publishing company, Manward Press. Not only does Andy dish out top-notch investment advice (after all, he spent a decade as an advisor at one of Wall Street’s top brokerages), but his mission is to lead folks to richer, healthier lives through his science-backed Triad of Liberty, Know-How and Connections. His one-of-a-kind free daily e-letter, Manward Digest, is a true fan favorite.