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What does ‘financial freedom’ really mean?

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Written by: Emma Lunn
26/08/2021
Being debt free, owning a home outright, and being able to cover unexpected expenses have been cited as signs of financial freedom in a recent survey.

Two thirds of respondents told Barclays that financial freedom is about feeling in control of their money in their day-to-day lives. Only 39% of those questioned said they feel some sense of financial freedom.

The top markers of financial freedom identified in the survey were being debt free (48%), paying off the mortgage (43%), and confidently covering unexpected costs (41%).

Other markers which made the top 10 list include feeling in control of finances, saving money each month, having disposable income, and having rainy day savings set aside. For just under one in 10, however, they’d see financial freedom as being able to buy their team’s new football shirt as soon as it comes out.

While the routes to achieving financial freedom varied, the survey found that only 39% of Brits would describe themselves as being ‘financially free’ at the moment, with the average adult thinking they are nearly 12 years away from reaching that goal.

One in four adults worry they aren’t saving enough every month to reach their financial targets, with some suspecting that they’d need to earn just under £60,000 a year to avoid worrying about money all together.

Clare Francis, director of savings and investments at Barclays, said, “It’s easy to think that being financially free is a long-term goal that can only be achieved through big financial milestones so it’s unsurprising the research showed that over half of adults feel like they won’t ever reach a state of financial freedom.

“However, when you look at the top things people are aiming for, these are sentiments we can help people to master right now so they can enjoy their day-to-day lives feeling free in every sense of the word.”

According to two thirds (66%) of survey respondents, financial freedom isn’t about reaching all their monetary goals, it’s more about feeling in control of their finances day-to-day. Goals included saving more money each month (34%), not comparing their financial situation to anyone else’s (21%), and having clear financial goals to aim for (19%).

When asked what would help them feel financially free, those aged 45 to 54 said stopping full time work (37%) and being on track for early retirement (32%).

Those aged 25 to 34 cited having disposable income at the end of the month (38%), paying off all bills in full each month (38%), and being able to treat themselves without worrying about their balance (29%).

By contrast, for those aged 18 to 24, the focus was on not being afraid to check their bank balance (29%) and saving more money each month (30%).

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