What Does Financial Freedom Look Like? How 4 People Defined—and Achieved—It
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Financial freedom is anything but one-size-fits-all: To some, it might mean being debt-free. For others, it’s all about having a locked-and-loaded emergency fund, or being able to retire early.

We caught up with four people who are all enjoying their own version of financial freedom. Even if their definition isn’t yours, you can still take their smart money lessons to heart.

"Every dollar is mine to spend—so I chose to spend them in paradise."

Corey Blake, 30, CEO of a digital marketing agency in Oahu, Hawaii

"Financial freedom doesn't happen overnight—but there's definitely one simple way to supercharge your efforts: Avoid debt. Because my wife Bridgette and I aren't chained to creditors, we're able to stretch our monthly income and live comfortably in our favorite place: the north shore of Oahu.

It helps that we’re minimalists by nature, which has been a game changer: We’re raising our two kids to value experiences over stuff; rather than accumulating things we don’t need, we’d rather make memories. Hiking or hitting the beach are free activities that also help us connect as a family.

We've struck a healthy balance—it's not like we have no furniture! But we do our best to live without excess when it comes to clothes, gadgets and the like. For example, we share one car and rely on the bus or Uber when needed. Basically, we live within our means, and don't use credit cards unless we can pay them off immediately.

Granted, it wasn’t always this way—we worked up to it. After starting my marketing company in 2013, Bridgette and I moved from pricey Hawaii (where I’d gone to school) to Arizona to save up. Two years later, thanks to the much lower cost of living and my gradually increasing salary, we'd saved about $20,000. That's when we 'decluttered' our life, selling off everything from our TV to all of our kids’ excess toys. This brought in an extra $4,000. With just four suitcases in tow, our family moved back to Oahu in earlier this year.

The whole reason I work so hard is so that our family can live a life where our time is aligned with our passions. Too often, people get stuck somewhere they don't want to live, doing a job they don't like, surrounded by a bunch of stuff they don't need. Changing your mindset can be hard at first, but financial freedom is well worth it."

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