Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Achieving financial independence is no walk in the park

Discipline, dedication, frugality and caution will pave the way to financial independence

"Save your white penny for your black day" - Middle-Eastern proverb - Jaime Puebla / The National
"Save your white penny for your black day" - Middle-Eastern proverb - Jaime Puebla / The National

The exceptional economic opportunities of the UAE attract professionals from all over the world, many of them dreaming of forging a better future for themselves and their families. For some people, however, the perils of pursuing the luxury lifestyle and the pitfalls of unforeseen circumstances quickly turn those dreams sour. These pages have, of course, often advocated for responsible spending, and The National's Debt Panel has worked tirelessly to break the taboo of talking about indebtedness.

Obviously, financial literacy is a big part of that effort, from knowing what your monthly outgoings are to managing your credit cards properly and setting yourself realistic savings targets.

Achieving financial happiness is, in other words, no walk in the park. It requires discipline and dedication. It almost always involves walking away from the extravagant lifestyle. It requires time and effort. These are some of the key takeaways from reading John van Zuylen's life-changing journey to financial independence, recounted in The National.

At its core it is also about addressing spending habits. Fancy a lavish meal in a gourmet restaurant? Booking a long staycation in a luxury resort every long-weekend? Unless you are already solvent, stable, debt-free and have managed to cover your basic living expenses through passive income, it would be sensible to rethink your approach to spending and your attitude to money. Do you really need that eleventh pair of stilettos, or that statement-watch? You may want to think twice and start by getting rid of these secondary expenditures.

Investing in yourself is not a passive investment. Too many of us are too easily seduced by get-rich-quick schemes that appear to promise the investor huge returns for little to no effort or change of behaviour. In reality, turning your finances around requires a dogged attitude to expenditure, a commitment to a clear set of goals and an understanding of what you want to achieve.

Financial independence is also not about wealth, but rather about defining your relationship with money, making the right decision when it comes to your spending, and as the famous Middle Eastern proverb suggests, "save your white penny for your black day".

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Read more from Opinion on personal finance

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Updated: October 10, 2017 06:16 PM