Earning an income is the first step on the path to financial independence. But, earning income is dependent on securing employment. For those of us living with blindness or visual impairment, financial independence may feel out of reach.
My vision began declining before I landed my first full-time job. Of course, it was a bummer. The uncertainty of the situation made my head spin a bit because I worried obtaining employment might elude me. Thereby, throwing my ability to earn income into chaos.
Let me be honest. I had goals. Goals that depended on making money. I wanted to marry my girlfriend, buy a house, start investing for retirement, and start a family. As far as I knew, those things were difficult to do without an income.
So, as the dark clouds of blindness gathered around me, I had to choose what path to take. A path towards financial independence or a path towards, well, financial struggle.
If you have followed my posts, you probably know what path I chose. For everyone else, I chose to take the path of financial independence.
Tips for Developing Financial Independence
Here are some tips to get going in the right direction.
Develop Your Knowledge and Skills
No surprises here. Graduate from high school. If you can afford to go to college afterward, do it. Ideally, college is the place to develop and to increase your competencies in the fields you wish to work. Again, if it is affordable, pursue an advanced degree if necessary.
If college is out of reach financially, take advantage of other methods for gaining education. Books, blogs, podcasts, and seminars are less expensive ways to build knowledge and skills about subjects that interest you.
Prepare for Your Next Move
What I want to say is this. It is very rare, these days, for someone to work for one company until retirement. Sometimes opportunities to advance don’t materialize. Sometimes employees get downsized. Sometimes companies merge with each other, and jobs are eliminated altogether.
Never stop looking for opportunities to advance your career and your earning potential. Even if you are comfortable in a job position, keep your job search on a low simmer. If you find yourself in a tough spot, then you can flip that job search to high when necessary.
Manage Your Income
Getting paid is a great feeling. Finding your wallet empty before the next pay day is not. It is definitely not the way to achieve financial independence.
Again, CareerConnect’s Money Management Lessons are great resources. Budgeting, saving, minimizing debt, and investing for retirement are important factors for financial independence.
Importance of Planning for Retirement Early
I key in on investing for retirement. Years ago, I counseled employees about their employer-sponsored 401K plans. I discovered the majority of people I helped knew little to nothing about retirement plans and the long-term benefits of investing in them. When you land that first job, or when you move on to new employers, ask about their retirement plans. Learn how the plan works and start investing. The sooner the better.
Consistency is a key element. When you sign up for your employer’s 401K plan, a percentage of your salary is contributed to the plan every time you get paid. Consistency is built right in. It removes the human emotion from the situation because it is automated.
Second, start early. Maybe you are 22 years old and just landed your job. Get enrolled into the 401K plan as soon as you are eligible for it. If you retire at the age of 67, you are looking at 45 years of growth in your 401k account. Account values rise due to capital appreciation, dividends, and interest compounding over time.
If you leave your employer, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to rollover your retirement accounts to protect the tax-deferred status. In other words, you can roll it to a new employer’s plan without any penalty.
Okay, before this gets too detailed, let me just say this. Start investing for your retirement early. Your employer’s 401K plan is an excellent way to do this. Consistently invest during your working years. Of course, seek resources to learn about investing or get advice from a professional.
Employment Leads to Financial Independence
Employment makes the most significant difference in the financial lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Earning an income puts us on the path towards financial independence. Tough situations will come and go in work and life, but by generating income, we can strive to better our situations despite the adversity posed by blindness or visual impairment.
As National Disability Employment Awareness Month continues, share your thoughts or concerns by clicking the comment button.