What Does Financial Freedom Look Like? How 4 People Defined—and Achieved—It
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"Now I work because I want to—not because I have to."

Robert R. Johnson, 59, president and CEO of a financial education institution in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

"So many of us spend years going through the motions of an unfulfilling job just to collect a paycheck. I'm fortunate to say this isn’t what my life looks like at all, thanks to smart and early investing. For me, financial freedom is the ability to work only because I want to, not because I have to.

I didn't win the lottery or come into a windfall of cash. I credit my financial freedom to simple investing strategies—which ultimately helped me leverage ordinary paychecks when I was just starting out to grow my net worth. After all, growing your wealth is less about the size of your paycheck and more about what you do with it.

Since I began working in financial services education at 27, I've always prioritized maxing out my 401(k) contributions. I also got into the habit of paying myself first. Instead of saving whatever I had left over after spending each paycheck, I'd earmark a minimum of 15 percent of my earnings for savings and investing right away, then create my monthly budget around what was left.

The magic of compound interest has played a huge role, which is why young investors really have a leg up. A long-term horizon was the most powerful tool in my arsenal. After 32 years of consistent investing, I’ve hit my retirement goal number, but choose to keep working because I truly enjoy helping educate financial advisors, so others can experience what I’m experiencing now. I can't imagine a better way to spend my time."

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