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#FreeBritney Part 2: A 5-Step Guide to Gaining Financial Independence

Britney Spears and her #FreeBritney followers celebrated a huge victory last month in her long battle for financial independence. Following the removal of her father from his position as Spears’ conservator, the pop superstar is well on her way to (finally!) achieving financial independence.

Here are the five steps you can take if you want to achieve the same goal.

Step #1: Identify your financial goals.

The first step in setting solid financial goals is determining what you want your financial future to look like. If you are in a relationship, you should include your spouse or significant other in the conversation. You want to paint a mental picture of the things you see yourself doing, the lifestyle you want to live, and any significant financial milestones you want to achieve. Ask yourself general questions to help you determine what you value and what you hope to accomplish financially.

Step #2: Put a price tag on your ideal financial future.

Once you've determined what your ideal financial future looks like, your next step is figuring out what your vision and goals will realistically cost. The price tag associated with your financial future will vary depending on your unique goals, and estimating the future cost of your ideal situation is not an exact science. But no matter what the "sticker price" is, the sooner you start saving, the more time you will have to achieve your goals.

Step #3: Set specific and actionable short-term goals.

To achieve the final goal of financial independence, you’ll want to set smaller, specific, actionable goals that will help you achieve your larger dreams. For example, if one of your short-term goals is building an emergency fund, you should begin by setting aside a certain amount of money from each paycheck into a savings account. The steps you take should be realistic and fit into your current budget, but also put you in the position to afford the financial future you've envisioned.

Step #4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Navigating the details of successful money management and financial planning is not easy. There may be fine print that you don't understand, confusing tax laws to consider, or you may not know how much you need to save in order to meet your future financial goals. Quite frankly, setting and meeting those goals can be overwhelming.

It's okay to reach out to a professional and ask for help. This is your financial future we're talking about; you can't afford to let pride or fear keep you from asking for help if you need it. A trained financial advisor can help you create a budget, pay down debt, and set savings goals that can help meet your current and future needs.

Step #5: Track your progress.

Tracking your progress is vital to achieving your financial goals. It is not uncommon to get caught up in your busy life and lose track of your overall financial health. Keeping track of how you're spending money, how much you're saving, and the progress you've made toward reaching your goals helps to keep you accountable and on track. Furthermore, life happens, and unforeseen expenses can arise that can force you to reevaluate and adjust your plans.

There are multiple options available to help you track your progress. With the WKFCU Mobile App and Internet Teller, you can log in to your account to view your purchases and deposits. There are free online resources, such as Mint.com and at WKFCU, My Money Desktop on our website, www.wkfcu.org, that organize and categorize your spending habits, help you set and track goals, and calculate your overall net worth.

Part of the reason Spears’ struggle for financial independence has resonated so strongly with fans on social media is that the pop star’s battle to achieve personal and financial autonomy is something many of us can relate to. For Britney, the big victory came when her father finally stepped down as her conservator. For you, it may look like making your last student loan payment, becoming a homeowner, or growing your wealth by making smart investments.

Whatever your financial goals are, you’ll need to be well informed to achieve them.

(Partially reprinted from cuinsight.com and blog.swbc.com by Amanda Harr)

Check out My Money Desktop by logging into Internet Teller on our website, www.wkfcu.org. You can keep track of all your accounts at WKFCU and at other institutions. It will even help you set up a budget.

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