The Freedom Quiz: How Free Are You?

By David Geller   |   May 16, 2019

We all want our freedom.

When we meet with clients in their working years, many of them focus on financial freedom: the freedom to buy the things or experiences they desire. The freedom to travel in the style they have become accustom to, the freedom to pay for their child’s college education, or the freedom to purchase a beach our mountain home.

The assumption is that freedom and money rise and fall together. More money means greater freedom. Less money means less freedom.

The challenge with this paradigm is that it frames freedom in a one-dimensional manner. It’s all about money. The truth is that freedom has two dimensions: time and money.  It is not only about our freedom to buy what we want — it is also about our freedom to spend our time as we desire.

Now, some of our clients have an abundance of financial freedom and time freedom.

They have all the money they need to purchase what they want, and they wake up each day with the freedom to do what they want.  Sometimes these folks are retired, and they enjoy spending time with family and friends doing activities they enjoy.  Others are still working, but their work is closely tied to their purpose and passion. They may have daily obligations, but those obligations are exactly what they want to be doing.

Many of our clients are not so fortunate.

They have high paying jobs that allow them to live the lifestyle they dreamed about when they were in their 20’s. They live in beautiful homes, take wonderful family vacations, send their kids to college, and still save for retirement.  The challenge for some of these clients is they no longer find their work fulfilling. It lacks purpose and it has become routine, even boring. They trudge off to work, dreading another day, with the belief that they are doing their job of providing for their family. They work their 40-45 hours a week, and they look forward to the day they can quit and start to really enjoy life.

For others, the situation is much worse.

For these folks, their jobs require them to work very long hours. It is not uncommon for them to put in 10 to 12 hours at the office, and they spend another 1 to 2 hours in the evening answering emails and catching up. They keep this pace a minimum of five days a week, and many of these clients work on the weekends. To maintain this grueling schedule, they often give up their own personal time. They consistently sleep less than 7 hours a night. They rarely exercise. They almost never take time to pause and think about what matters most to them.

Are you one of these individuals? Has your job become routine and lost its sense of purpose? Are you working so hard you don’t have time to take care of yourself? Are your long hours creating emotional distance between you and the people you love the most?

If so, I encourage you to take the following quiz. 

Draw two vertical lines on a sheet of paper.  Label the first line money freedom and the second line time freedom. Create a scale for each line from 1 to 100. Assume that the bottom of the scale represents virtually no freedom for this metric, and the top of the scale represents total freedom.  Here’s what you should have on your piece of paper:

On a gut level, where do you feel you are on each scale?

Now ask yourself, how satisfied are you with your freedom in each area?  If you are totally satisfied with your time and money freedom, cultivate a sense of gratitude for your good fortune.

If, like most of us, you are not totally satisfied, where does your dissatisfaction lie? Do you have a shortage of money freedom or time freedom? Often, but not always, our two freedom’s (money and time) are interchangeable. We can give up some money in exchange for more time, or we can give up some time in exchange for more money.

If this is the case for you, are you willing to make that trade?

If you are willing to make the trade, the next obvious question is how?  This is not an easy task. It requires you to be clear about what matters most to you, and to be clear about what you are willing to give up. In many cases, you will need to understand the financial costs and benefits of the choices before you. You will need to answer questions such as, “how will my proposed trade impact will my ability to retire comfortably?” or “how will it help take care of my ailing parents?”

Finally, for some of us, it will also require you to consider adjusting your investment portfolio to fit your new life.

These are hard questions to navigate on your own. The good news is your Behavioral Wealth Management™ team at JOYN is here to help you figure this out.

I leave you with a confession of my personal bias, and two observations about time and money.  My bias is I think we live in a culture that places too much emphasis on money and not enough on time.  At the center of a great life is good health, strong relationships, engaging activities, making a positive difference, and connecting with your sense of purpose.  All of these take time.  It is great to have the money to live in a beautiful home, drive a luxury car, and take fabulous vacations, but very few of us think these material possessions are the things that really matter in life.

My observations are about two key differences between time and money.  First, we can count our money, but we can’t count how much time we have left.  The sobering truth is tomorrow is promised to nobody.  Second, we can earn more money, but we can’t create more time.

Nobody gets the life they want. We each get the life we manage to create.

What do you want your life to be?



Investment Advisory Services offered through JOYN Advisors, Inc. Registered Investment Advisors. Insurance offered through JOYN Atlanta, Inc. Securities offered through Securian Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. JOYN Advisors, Inc. and its affiliates are not affiliated with Securian Financial Services, Inc.
David Geller

About the Author

CEO David Geller co-founded the firm in 1991 and led the creation of Behavioral Wealth Management. Recognized on numerous prestigious "top financial advisor" lists, David is an in-demand speaker for professional groups and JOYN workshops. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post.

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