Financial Independence and the freedom to live your life on your own terms, is the ultimate dream future that almost everyone wants. It’s what we all hope to achieve from all the hard work and the sacrifices that we make in our working life. How do you turn this dream into a reality, and faster if possible? This the problem that most people face. It’s a problem that most will struggle to overcome, without the right level of Financial Literacy and the Money Mindset to execute their Financial Goals. It takes skill to build an intelligent Financial Game Plan that will achieve Financial Independence, in a shorter amount of time.

Do you know what it takes to be successful in this pursuit of happiness?
Financial Independence: What kind of future life do you want to achieve?

The truth is, the the fastest way to financial independence and even freedom is to level up your ‘money smarts’ so that you have the power to transform your life from where it is today to a better future.

People with ‘money smarts’ know where they are along their Financial Independence Journey. They have defined what Financial Freedom means to them, with an end goal or dream destination. They have already started to build their arsenal of tools and techniques that will support their journey to get there. Success is not left to chance.

💡 What is the future life that you want, by when, where?

The answers to these key sorts of questions are clearly outlined in a winning Financial Game Plan.

What is ‘Money Smarts’? It is implementable financial literacy. This is what an Intelligent Financial Game Plan gives you. It provides implementable strategies and tactics that build your wealth, as you navigate your financial independence journey. It is describes your Money Mindset… how you think, act and behave with your money as you live your life. Your Financial Intellect or Financial Intelligence.

Having ‘money smarts’ is the key difference between the richest 1% of the global population who own between 40-50% of all the wealth versus every one else in the 99%.

According to data from Credit Suisse, only 1.1% of the adult population across the world have a a Net Worth over 1 million (USD).

The Millionaires in the 1% know three things that the poor in the 99% don’t even know about… that makes all the difference. It’s not just because Money Makes Money, which the rich already have in abundance. These 3 secrets of the rich are not taught in schools. They are almost always handed down along with any inheritance or trust funds, to keep it within the family.

Luckily for you and those reading this blog, I’m now going to share these 3 secrets which I was lucky enough to learn on my personal money journey on my way to achieving financial independence by 40.

Three Takeaways from this Blog

These 3 game changing tips (the 3 secrets of the rich that keep them rich) are the Three ‘MoneySmarts’ principles that will help anyone and everyone to start their journey to build wealth and achieve Financial Independence:

A word of caution.

Game Plans can fail. Especially if they aren’t the right game plan for you.

A poor or not having a Financial Game Plan can set you back or even back you bankrupt on your Money Journey

Just as the right Financial Game Plan can make you richer, a bad Financial Game Plan can cause a rich person to lose their fortune. Dennis Rodman, Larry King, Nicolas Cage, Mike Tyson and even Michael Jackson all went bankrupt. It’s a common problem for many who found fame and got rich too quick, but who didn’t know how to manage their fortunes.

This is why you can’t just copy someone else’s game plan. This never works, and you risk implementing the wrong game plan that might set you back, if you take risks you shouldn’t be taking and lose money.

Your Game Plan may have similar tactics that others have used. These you can copy. However, your winning Financial Game Plan is something that you need to build for yourself. It’s unique to you and how you live your life. If it were that simple and easily replicated, then why isn’t every one a Millionaire already?

What increases your chances of building a winning Financial Game Plan?

Learning the tricks, techniques and tools that have been tried and tested by those who have made it, from battling through the low points to win will certainly help. Starting out on the wrong foot, or navigating your journey randomly certainly won’t help. Building your Financial Literacy skills for leveraging, yielding or playing the right tools in your arsenal at the right time. This is what makes an Intelligent Financial Game Plan… a winner.

How to change the game?

In this blog and guide, I will show you that Financial Independence and Freedom isn’t exclusive to the 1% of wealthy people. The world is harsh, with the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer in this ‘game of life’. So your life is like a game (obviously not quite like Squid Game, phew 😂). The good news is that you can change the game with the right Financial Game Plan.

This guide will help you to transform your mindset and improve your future path as you navigate your way towards Financial Independence and Freedom. You will learn how to achieve this, with an Intelligent Financial Game Plan that is backed by your improved Financial Literacy, and directed by your more intelligent Financial Goals.

Yes, you’ll learn how to improve your ‘money smarts’. Let’s get into it!

P.S. Building and executing my Financial Game Plan is how I changed my life and transformed my family’s fortunes. My journey is that of a little girl who lived in poverty at age 9, when my father lost his business with bankruptcy. I was able to change the game from learning the 3 strategies covered in this guide. This has since enabled me to retired from my day job before turning 40, as a multi-millionaire… with the freedom to pursue my real dream career and life, should “doing nothing” in retirement not suit me.

If I can do this, so can anyone, including you. I include my real life experiences on my personal financial independence journey and from my money story throughout this blog. I hope you can relate to this journey and all the REAL trials and tribulations that I faced.

The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I make a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Disclosure here.

Most people struggle to define what Financial Independence is and means for them. They struggle because they don’t know how to define their Financial Goals.

So, before getting into the detail with some key examples as part of this guide, let’s start by defining what exactly is Financial Independence and even Financial Freedom. After all, it’s the purpose or focus of your Financial Game Plan. It’s the outcome you will achieve, when you play the ‘game of life’ well and win through achieving your Financial goals.

Do you have Intelligent Financial Goals that will kickstart your Financial Independence Journey? Confused about what you want?

If we go with the standard dictionary meanings, I’m afraid you will won’t learn much. In fact, what I found using a Google search isn’t very SMART at all. WHY? Well, let me explain as I start to help you define what these terms should mean to you and the life that you want to live in your future.

Unfortunately, most of the standard dictionaries including my favorites from Collins, Oxford and Cambridge do not provide any definitions at all. Instead they provide the definitions of the included words separately. This is followed by some contextual illustrations of the terms used within an event or situation.

According to the Collins Dictionary…

Definition of ‘Financial’
Financial

Financial means relating to or involving money. 

Definition of ‘Independence’
Independence

Independence means freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others

Definition of ‘Freedom’
Freedom

Freedom is the state of being allowed to do what you want to do.

Why are these definitions NOT SMART?

The problem with both these dictionary definitions is a lack of clarity. Especially when it comes to the WHY, WHAT and HOW for achieving a level of financial independence at a point in time or at a stage in your life.

There is no context that describes the level of financial independence with which an individual or person, like you, desires. Nor what is the value of each level of independence to you in how it impacts or affects your life.

There is also no context that describes what this future ‘freedom state’ is that you want for yourself. How do you want to live your life, relative to the financial situation or stage that you’re in now. What do you want to do in this future, that you can’t do now? Why?

This is exactly the reason why Financial Independence and Financial Freedom mean different things to different people. It is open to interpretation by every individual. This is also why every Financial Game Plan is different. It is bespoke to the different Financial Goals that people have, and that you definitely have.

For some people Financial Freedom means having enough money to quit working. For another its being able to take lots of holidays. Some might see Financial Independence as being able to move out of their parents home, with the means to support themselves, without help from others. Maybe your views also change with age and life experience too.

Context is key.

Here are some examples sourced from the Collins and Cambridge Dictionaries, respectively, that unfortunately continue this narrative of not being SMART:

Financial independence - Collins Dictionary
Financial independence - example sentences from Cambridge

Similar to the definitions, while these examples that use the Financial Independence term do provide some context, they are directionless and you don’t know what actions to take.

This lack of ‘moneysmarts’ as I like to call it, is why those stuck in the 99% of wealth, never achieve Financial Independence nor Freedom. They don’t know what they want nor what they can achieve, why they want it nor how to get there. They have a dream which is vague with no path or roadmap that they can navigate to reach their destination. Nor a Financial game plan to help them navigate this path to make their dream a reality.

💡 Notice the difference between a Roadmap versus a Game Plan?

This is explained in more detail in Part 3 of this guide.

FREE vs PAID Financial Resources

What’s NOT SMART? Don’t pay for Basic Stuff. It’s FREE.

As someone who has achieved the financial freedom to live my life on my terms by my 40s, I can tell you that building wealth doesn’t start with just saving hard and investing in stocks. These tactics are insufficient if like me, you wanted to build a portfolio of assets worth 3million (USD).

Basic Financial Literacy

Sure, these actions or financial activities can help your journey to advance, and you should absolutely save and invest your hard earned money.

Unfortunately, relying on these basic techniques like living frugally to save cash, investing in stocks and using standard investment vehicles like a 401K, ISA or SIPP or similar*, is a long journey indeed and a hard one too, if this is all you do. There are lots of lifestyle compromises that you’ll have to make including working more and doing things that you don’t enjoy for a lot longer than necessary.

There are plenty of free courses to learn these basic financial management skills. Most of the best ones come from government supported websites and social enterprises. Yes, basic Financial Management tips and many tools too are FREE. So don’t be fooled into buying a digital course from any one who isn’t qualified, or regulated. This includes Money Mentor or Coaches, unless you are access them because they are offering you special tools to use.

Financial Literacy Training versus Financial Management Tools

Remember Time Is Money. So, any tools that save you time with Financial Management are fine to buy, since they add value. For example, you might find a customized tool for managing your finances and that saves you time from a Money Mentor. These tools should come with extra training to help you use the tool.

A useful Financial Management tool will have clear benefits and a clear return on investment (ROI) in the time saved, process ability, or provide other data driven insights to help you make financial decisions. You should be able to calculate if the cost of the tool is justified from this return on investment.

This is difference between a useful Financial Management tool that puts money in your pocket, compared to most Digital Courses that are taking money from your pocket. These digital courses are typically from unqualified Money Mentors who have not had any Financial Management training or accreditation. This is why they only provide you with basic tips which you could get for free. In fact, many of these Money Mentors are struggling financially themselves and are using a digital course to gain side hustle income so they can quit their day jobs and line their own pockets with your money. Ask yourself… Do you want to learn from this person, who hasn’t even achieved Financial Independence nor qualified?

Always check for ROI and check for the warning signs to avoid time wasters.

😁 The tips provided in this blog on are free. I’ll be pointing you to some of these Free Resources in Part 2 of this blog. I’ll also be highlighting some of the best free and paid tools that might fit into your Financial Game Plan

Why Financial Services from a Professional is not FREE

The good stuff when it comes to managing your money and building wealth, isn’t free. Non-basic and more advanced financial management activities, techniques and tools, that you truly need help with, shouldn’t be free. It takes a lot of years of learning and skill to be able to manage money and finances well. This is why the rich pay for the top wealth managers to help them set up family offices and trusts. They save time by having a professional perform the more complex financial activities on their behalf. Especially activities that involve more risk because they are using leverage.

Some of the biggest banks have launched ROBO advisors with AI and Analytics to help their customers with Wealth Management. There are many new Fintech startups doing this too. There are also numerous new platform services in the blockchain and crypto space following the huge success of Coinbase. This is a hot market right now, the business of WealthTech. There’s even a global report on the Top 100 WealthTech companies and their innovations published every year.

Similarly, top businesses pay for the best CFOs (Chief Finance Officers) to help them manage the companies finances. Big companies also tend to have a treasurer who will leverage more sophisticated techniques and instruments offered by the top Investment Banks to support their balance sheets.

Most people outside the 1%, will need at least 100,000 USD in spare cash to invest to work with a Financial Advisor. In some countries like Australia, you’ll need more than 250,000 AUD because of the currency differences. Some of the top Wealth Managers may require you to have 1 million or 5-10million or more. Your investable funds or assets does not include your main home, whether you have mortgage or not. You can leverage your equity from your property increase your investable assets but then you are risking your asset.

Either way, the work that a professional financial professional does for you, needs to be paid for via their fees. They usually charge their fees as a percentage of your investable funds under their management. So there needs a minimum for this to be worth their time. Time is money.

P.P.S I have this unfair knowledge of the customer journey for wealth management, asset management, treasury as well as M&A from my 15 year career in banking.

Takeaway No. 1: Set Intelligent Financial Goals to direct your Financial Independence Journey

Imaging wasting time and money on the wrong things and making more mistakes that you can’t correct? This is a direct result of not having Intelligent Financial Goals. WHY?

Financial Independence - Time is Money!

TIME IS MONEY. Time wasting is literally losing you time and money. And while you can always make more money, you cannot take back time. Once time is lost, it’s gone forever.

Unfortunately, time machines are still make believe 🤞 as far as I know.

This is why setting Financial Goals is the first step to take that will get you started on the right path to Financial Independence and even Freedom. It is what’s going to enable you to set up a Financial Game Plan that will direct your financial activities towards the right things that will actually deliver the financial outcomes that you seek at a point in time, in your future.

With this definition of ‘Financial Goals’, I hope you can see that by stating them, you are literally also defining what you want in your life in the future, and what Financial Independence and Freedom means to you… if that is what you seek of course. This is , provided they are clear and S.M.A.R.T. with the intelligence to direct your financial activities on your Financial Independence Journey, by motivating you to challenge yourself beyond the norm.

😇 Setting better and more intelligent Financial Goals is what set me off on the right foot or in the right direction on my Financial Independence journey.

I can also tell you that this is what Professional Wealth Managers and Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) do with you as part of the service that they provide to help you invest your money to grow your wealth. Of course, this is a paid service for those with money already.

Defining S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals

You know what Financial Goals are now and why you need them… So, what exactly makes these goals S.M.A.R.T. if this is how they need to be, in order to direct you to your dream future?

Defining S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Your goals are S.M.A.R.T. if and when they are:

Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Realistic
Timebound

To define S.M.A.R.T Financial Goals, you need to make clear statements of intent that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound, about your Financial Future. These statements need to describe what outcomes you want in life in this future. They also need to indicate what Finances you require in this future to help you fund this life.

Questions to ask yourself when defining these goals include:

💡 WHY, WHAT and HOW will you live your life?
How will you manage your money to give you this life?

WHY, WHAT and HOW will you make, spend and invest your money?

Your S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals should answer these questions.

😊 To give you some real examples of S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals, here’s my personal illustration of how I set mine initially and what forced me to improve them…

A personal illustration… part 1
S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goal setting

This is the Financial Goal that I set of to achieve personally when I was 19:

I want to retire by 45 years old with many millions so I never have to worry about money.

Smart Living with Julie | Aspiring for Financial Independence (juliechoo.com)

It’s what I told my mother and she started by saying: Great!

She also asked:
How much of that was for her 😁 so she could stop working too. Would I buy her a home, a nicer apartment in Sydney Australia or Singapore to live in as well as giving her an income to live on to cover her living expenses? Could I fund her holidays with a yearly trip or setup a family holiday fund for both of us, so I would visit and see her even after I moved out of home to live on my own? What kind of budget was I going to give her?

My mother’s Financial Goals were actually S.M.A.R.T. and better defined than mine. Her questions made me rethink and clarify my own goal and to expand it, as now I needed to include her Financial Goals within mine.

How much did I need to save or what kind of Net Worth would I need by 45 to be able to fund this lifestyle for both of us? Also, what did I want for myself, what kind of lifestyle did I want to live, and what does retirement mean to me?

Why are Financial Goals difficult to define?

Defining Financial Goals is actually quite difficult for many people, for many reasons. These reasons range from fear of failure and self-doubt, to simply being ignorant of what’s possibly. The real reason is that most people in the 99% lack Financial Literacy. They don’t have the level of Financial Literacy and the skills to change the game.

Remember… they don’t teach you this in school. If you didn’t learn this at home, then where and when could you have learn this. If you’ve not even come across it, then you’re not likely to search for it on Google either.

Financial Goal setting - they don't teach you this in school. Nor in 99% of homes.

A important warning about goals.

There are many conflicting studies as to whether S.M.A.R.T. Goals really work at all.

Two studies conducted in 2010 and 2020 from LeadershipIQ of over 16000 participants revealed that S.M.A.R.T. goals actually have a negative effect on people’s success rates in relation to their careers. In fact, the study showed that those who set more difficult, audacious and challenging goals that would stretch them were indeed the much more successful than those who set themselves easy to achieve S.M.A.R.T. goals were more likely to dislike their jobs.

This evidence highlights how creating truly Intelligent Financial Goals, isn’t easy. It does take more than just using the S.M.A.R.T. formula and copying some good examples.

A personal illustration… part 2
S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goal execution

In my personal example and illustration, my mother clearly had S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals so you might be thinking, then… Why was she poor or why were we poor then?

Execution is where my mother neither had the skills or the will to work even harder in order to achieve her desired outcomes or dreams. She was already working too hard and too busy or stuck working hard to “make ends meet” and she lacked the Financial Literacy to change the game.

😮 My mother deferred the action taking and the hard work to learn Financial Literacy to me… by encouraging me to work at a bank or become an accountant so I could learn these other Financial Literacy skills including accounting, budgeting and investment methods to turn her dreams into goals and then actions that I could achieve for both of us.

I have to admit that at 19 years, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted in my life to set good financial goals. I didn’t yet have the life experience, and I lacked the Financial Literacy to go about this journey to build my wealth. At the time, all I knew was what I didn’t want and it pains me today that these words were so hurtful as expressed by an angry teenager to my then 43 year old mother: I don’t want your life. Why can’t you(we) do better? There has to be a way to do this differently than working so hard, with no reward. This is stupid, We are stupid, to keep living this life as it is.

The fact is, this act of rebellion which kickstarted my S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals. In taking this first step, I did indeed start my journey towards achieving Financial Independence by 40.

Of course, my real success didn’t come from these goals. It came from what I learned about money and the Financial Independence Journey itself as I grew my Financial Literacy, and what I implemented through my evolving Financial Game Plan and all that extra knowledge that I learned during my career in banking and more specifically in Fintech (Financial Technology).

I actually experienced a Money Mindset transformation, kickstarted by my act of setting smarter Financial Goals, that started to get more intelligent as I improved my level of Financial Literacy.

You really do need to have the right Money Mindset too, so you can stretch your goals and make them intelligent to influence your performance. That is why as I said, there is a skill to doing this, that is practiced by Financial Professionals.

What the Professionals Do?

Reviewing your Financial Goals is an exercise that the rich do every time they meet with their Financial Advisor or Wealth Manager which is at least once a year since that is mandated by Financial Regulation.

Financial Game Plan | Financial Planning | Smart Living with Julie

A good Financial Professional will have their own set of questions designed to help the Wealth client define the financial outcomes or lifestyle that they want at various points in time in their future. This includes all things in your life related to your health, wealth, knowledge and connectivity. Of course, it should include when and where they will retire, no matter your age.

Clearly better defined… detailed Financial Goals following at least the S.M.A.R.T. format will provide more information to create an Intelligent Financial Game Plan. You want this if you’re going to hire a Financial Professional to devise for their client. This is necessary to deliver the best results or the best fit performance inside the client’s Wealth Portfolio.

Of course, there is also a mandated set of questions (included) which are regulated by government authorities in many countries such as the FCA in the UK, the OCC in the US and the MAS in Singapore. For example, an accredited Financial Professional will have to assess their Wealth client’s risk profile. There are also other guidelines and standards to ensure that the client’s money is protected.

Benefits from Having Intelligent Financial Goals

Since TIME IS MONEY, then the key benefits from having Intelligent Financial Goals is they enable you to: (1) make more money by (2) saving you from wasting time.

More time (3) gives you the freedom to live a better, wealthier life, full of experiences you’ll love and remember.

Simply put, you’re going to be using your time more wisely to focus on the right financial activities. Activities that will help you to make more money, and live better, faster.

You’re also becoming more financially intelligent with how you use your TIME and how you make money with less time. Now that’s ‘smart’. As you improve your Financial Literacy, you’ll also be learning techniques which you can implement to make money in your sleep, through earning passive income. You’ll learn how to challenge yourself to make your Financial Goals, perform for you, playing a role in the execution of your Financial Game Plan. This is what makes your Financial Goals intelligent and gives your Financial Game Plan the edge to help you succeed.

The best thing is that you are literally planning your future life inside your Intelligent Financial Game Plan. It where you can make time for all the things that are important to you in your life. This includes your life NOW or NEXT, and in the future, when you are free to do as you want. 🥂 🥳 🎉

Executing Your Financial Goals

Financial Goals are just the first step that sets the direction of travel to achieving Financial Independence via building wealth. You still need a Financial Game Plan and to action this plan along the Financial Independence Journey. One that outline WHY, WHAT and HOW you’ll get to your desired future ‘freedom state’.

Actions speak louder than words. Strategy is nothing without execution.

Every strategy is only realized and ultimately wins or loses with execution. Without execution, it remains just an idea or a thought… a dream. Like any game or sport, you have play to have that chance of win. Nothing happens if you sit on the sidelines, except that you keep watching other people win.

Money Mindset is like the mindset of a surfer.

Of course, you also need to play smart too. Don’t go and surf a 20+ foot wave if you’re not a strong swimmer or you hate swimming. The best surfers love to surf, and they are always looking for that next big wave. They seek a new challenge that takes them to a new place in their life, both physically and mentally. Without getting wiped out of course. This is what you can and will do too with your money by building your ‘money smarts’.

Your transformation occurs when you change how you think, act and behave. You have to change your Money Mindset. This achieved through improving your Financial Literacy and building your ‘moneysmarts’.

CTA: Sign up for the MoneySmarts Financial Goals checklist – and guide

Financial Literacy is also something you should never stop learning or that you only learn once. Why? There are always new methods and techniques to learn and new tools you can use, as well as new opportunities for investing and new assets that you can add into your personal finance portfolio.

No. 2 Tip: Improve Your Financial Literacy to Harness Your Knowledge and Mindset for Building Wealth

Why should you learn & improve your Financial Literacy?

Learning and improving your Financial Literacy is the game changer that will help you achieve Financial Independence and Freedom, by giving you the methods, techniques and tools that will help you to navigate your financial independence journey. It’s the bag of tricks and resources that the rich have that most of us in the 99% don’t even know about.

I will share how show I started to learn Financial Literacy, what motivated me and continues to motivate me to keep learning and continuously improve my Financial Literacy, and to help illustrate why it is my No. 2 Tip to help you build a Financial Game Plan that helps you to achieve this life of freedom that so many of us desire.

Learning Financial Literacy is how I got started on my Financial Independence journey and applying the strategies, tactics learned in my Financial Game Plan is how I achieved Financial Freedom by 40, which is actually 5 years ahead of my target FIRE GOAL which I set at 19 years old, to retire as a millionaire by 45… so I could quit my day job and become a writer and author instead while living as a digital nomad travelling the world.

😉 I hope you can see how I’ve iteratively improved my FIRE/Financial Goal, following the guidance that I provided earlier on Defining S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals.

What is the FIRE MOVEMENT Vs Financial Literacy

FIRE MOVEMENT

FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
FIRE is a lifestyle movement that stems from the 1992 book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, where young person who have started their working life, live frugally and save as much as 70% of their income so that their accumulated assets by a specific age that they set in their 30s or 40s known as their FIRE Number or FIRE GOAL to provide enough passive income for them to live on during the years that follow when they are effectively able to retire from quitting their day job.

Popular amongst Millennials initially, the movement has evolved over the year to include up to 10 different FIRE lifestyle variations with the 3 most popular variations to the traditional FIRE model being LeanFIRE, FatFIRE and CoastFire or BaristaFIRE.

In all of the FIRE lifestyle variations there is a specific formula for calculating your FIRE Number or FIRE GOAL. Each formula allows you to calculate when you can or would like to retire, versus how much you need to save per year up to your retirement year, based on a rule of thumb that your accumulated savings or assets will provide that passive income of 4% per year, known as The 4% Rule.

Each FIRE lifestyle variation with its own set of rules or recommended lifestyle choices and money management guidelines are in essence Financial Literacy techniques that help you to determine what level of Financial Independence you desire.

My FIRE Journey. Where I started from?

Personally, I have followed a hybrid version of the Traditional Fire which is what I retired on, but switch to BaristaFIRE, as I started part-time work as a digital nomad to become a author, writer and entrepreneur which was my dream career, with some freelance work, like public speaking at events, and corporate training workshops.

I have to admit, after taking a big holiday when I first retired where I was inspired to pursue my other dreams from another popular movement known as YOLO, and then getting bored from doing nothing after this vacation (I wasn’t enjoying my so called retirement) I had to switch or fix my situation.

Becoming a writer and a digital nomad was the dream job and life that I aspired to have when I was 13 to be a foreign correspondent or travel writer. When I was 21, I applied to be a writer for the Lonely Planet Guide* and discovered how much junior writers get paid – very little I’m afraid as it was boring minimum wage plus travel expenses.

*This clearly pre-dates the existence of blogging or YouTube. Any YouTube Travel Vlogger with a decent following in 2022, let alone the kind of following or readers that the Lonely Planet guide had at the time in 2002, is making millions today just from ad revenue, let alone other affiliate income, etc… as an entrepreneur or self-employed business owner of course.

Back in 2002, I wasn’t able pursue a writing career as a Travel Writer, as it was simply something that I couldn’t afford to do. From the age of about 9 when my father’s lost his business and went bankrupt, our family lived in relative poverty with many financial problems and we continued to be rocked by financial difficulties when he got sick with a brain tumour and dementia when I was 19.

Whilst growing up, my mother indicated that given our financial difficulties, I had to focus my learning in school and university on math and technical subjects, and to get good grades, so I could get a high paying and steady corporate job instead as an engineer or banker to help out at home and pay the bills.

This was the nature or standard of my financial education at the time, and left to what my parents knew about money or managing money which for me was clearly poor or limited as highlighted in my personal example. According to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, getting a good job to pay for your expenses and getting a mortgage to buy yourself a home is what the working class teach their kids. So, my Financial Literacy at the time, as indeed working class or below that. However, as I have told you, my father while he failed was also entrepreneur in business, as was my maternal grandfather who was an architect and property developer in Singapore back in the 1950-60s, so I didn’t have some knowledge of what the rich know. As I said before, execution is key and that is why you need to go beyond Financial Literacy into a Financial Game Plan which I’ll cover in Part 3 of this blog.

To be honest, we were actually lucky that we lived in Australia, as health care for my father’s condition is covered by the Australia government and the further benefits that we did receive for his disability and lost of income were just enough to help us get through these difficult times, along living frugally and my scholarship income which was needed to help out, until I got that real paying job. I am truly grateful that we didn’t have further medical bills as we certainly couldn’t afford health insurance at the time… and both my brother and I happily paid our taxes in Australia to ensure that this level of health care, is available to all in need of it.

What I can say is that all of these difficulties and perhaps my survival instincts did motivate my resolve to improve my Financial Literacy in order to build my own wealth, especially so my family would never have to suffer as my parents had, ever again in our future. These experiences also make me the person that I am, with my values and I hope you can see how they contribute to the context of my Financial Goals in my Financial Game Plan.

I’m sharing my story and journey to help you see that it doesn’t matter how difficult it gets or how far away you are from a better future or this potential “freedom state”… you can change the game, if you start learning and improving your Financial Literacy now. Obviously time is money so the more time you have the better… so don’t leave it too late to get started.

Where can You Learn Financial Literacy?

Why the rich get richer?

The truth is that only rich people from wealthy families where adults have all the necessary Financial Literacy knowledge and skills to manage their own money and build wealth, are able to pass both their assets and these skills to manage theirs assets onto their kids and future generations. Of course, the super rich might have Wealth Managers and Family Offices setup to manage their wealth, but this money is almost always passed down or given out with caveats on how best to spend and manage the money, so that the wealth within the family and the lifestyle that they wish to live and continue… is maintained.

Does this mean that this kind of Financial Literacy is only reserved for the 1% or many the 1-10% of society where all the money is held or owned?

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How I learned Financial Literacy?

The person whom inspiring me to build my MoneySmarts mindset was actually another mom, my university best friend Malcolm’s mom, who built her fortune of several million by her 40s in the 1990s. Malcolm’s mom was an asset manager at a big bank, and as part of encouraging her own son to invest his scholarship income, which she knew I also had since Malcolm and I were on the same university scholarship with a tax free income… she also taught and inspired me to learn and improve my Financial Literacy.

In a lucky encounter at one of Malcolm’s house parties, I met his mom and learn about her money journey, as she revealed how her assets and net worth was built from leveraging her skills initially before she ventured into other forms of investing and building assets. The impressionable 19 year old me, aspired to be just like her as she too started from humbled beginnings with a working class family background… so her wealth as not inherited.

It was after these encounters with Malcolm’s mom and learning from her that I set my FIRE goal to retire with 3 million in assets by the time I was 45. This S.M.A.R.T. financial goal set me off on my Financial Independence journey. I spent the next 20 years of my life learning and working to achieve this goal, and retired from my day job at 39 to start my new ‘freedom state’ as a digital nomad writer.

Malcolm’s mom was also the person who introduced me to the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. All of Robert’s teachings from his many books, and the videos you’ll find on his YouTube Channel… are still some of the best you’ll find, but he doesn’t always get into the how part, unless you hire him or work with him, and that is what I’ll start to cover in this blog post, and as I said before, execution is key. You need the HOW to execute.

Why do the poor get poorer?

The reason why poverty is a vicious cycle is because the teaching of Financial Literacy has primarily been left to parents all over the world and even in the most developed countries like the UK, Australia, the USA and Singapore.

How can parent’s with poor Financial Literacy who don’t know what they need to know about money and with bad money habits and financial management, be expected to teach what they don’t know to their kids?

In the majority of cases, every parent who is in the 90percent of people when it comes to their wealth, is actually indirectly passing down bad money habits and behaviors to their children. The inability to earn enough money through establishing and building one’s career, poor spending habits, etc… is what gets observed, and learned through copying from parent to child.

It is a societal problem that Financial Literacy including specific money and life management skills isn’t taught in most schools beyond opening a child’s bank and account so we could start saving in almost all countries both rich and poor.

Where can kids and young people start to learn Financial Literacy?

Back in 1989, a local banker from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) visited our primary school in Sydney to give us a talk and helped each kid including me, to open a Dollarmite bank account. There was of course no broadband or Internet access for us to do any Google searches or go on YouTube to watch videos to learn about money back then, since this pre-dated even the world wide web (WWW) and ICQ one of the first online forums or chat platforms. This was the only Financial Literacy I learned beyond all the good and bad habits and behaviors demonstrated by my parents.

Personally, I think schools need to add Financial Literacy to their curriculums for kids from 10 years old, starting with the basic of course on saving, but then it needs to go beyond that into the WHY, WHAT and HOW around life skills, which to this day is still not taught at most schools even in the most advanced or developed countries in the world.

Some banks have started to develop their own learning platforms and curriculum to start teaching Financial Literacy to kids, so this is a good step in the right direction. Just out of curiousity given my early relationship with CBA, I did a quick search on Google to discover a dedicated CBA Kids webpage including a YouTube video about teaching kids to save and opening a new Youthsaver account.

Barclays bank in the UK has taken this need for Financial Literacy a big step further with a dedicated Community Website and App called Lifeskills, which teaches young people in the UK about managing money and credit with a whole range of education services available in partnership with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the country’s Financial Regulator.

What is Money Smarts vs Financial Literacy

There are many very valuable free resources available on the Internet which I will reference on this blog and beyond this article in the ‘Money Smarts’ category, and where I will provide additional tips, and tricks or alternative education sources that are tailored to different situations and locations or countries to help you improve your Financial Literacy and to cover any gaps that I feel you need to learn.

My goal and the mission of this blog is ensure that the best Financial Literacy is accessible and available to everyone, and especially those who need it the most, who don’t have the exposure to this level of Financial Literacy to help them transform their lives and livelihoods from poverty to freedom, as I did. We’ll be providing you with quality tips, tricks and tool recommendations that will really make a difference to help you level up your Financial Literacy so you can build true wealth in your life.

Besides being a category in this blog, Money Smarts is a term that I use to describe the mindset that you need to be successful with living your life and working with money or rather making money work for you. In essence its about being smart with your money. This is a mindset and behavioral as Money Smarts needs to be embededd into how you think, act and behave, rather than just a set of skills that you learnl, but that you don’t get around to applying. This is also why I have also name my Methodology for building Financial Literacy and that I use to build my own wealth and that I teach and coach as a Money Mentor, the MoneySmarts Method.

What is a Financial game Plan

A Financial Game Plan is the set of strategies and tactics that define the WHY, WHAT and HOW to achieve your desired level of financial independence as you navigate your journey towards financial freedom.

This WHY, WHAT and HOW to achieve a level of Financial Independence is necessary if you’re going to succeed and win in this goal of Financial Freedom that you seek in you life. Your strategies and tactics in your Game Plan are a means to an end. The end is defined by your Financial Goals including what financial figures or financial state actually gives you the Financial Freedom to live your life on your terms, to do as you want.

A Financial Freedom Game Plan is not just about saving and budgeting… or investing, and getting lucky with finding that killer stock like Amazon or Tesla shares or buying Bitcoin when it was first launched. These are all sound financial actions or activities that you should embark on as part of your game plan. These activities are the means to an end. How much do you need to save, what kind of budget should you have, and how much and what should in invest in, what assets classes … where and when? Without a game plan with the financial goals that drive how you save, budget and invest, in what stocks, for how long, with what level of risk, then you could be going no where from actioning these activities for sure. What’s the point of that?

A Game Plan is a set of strategies and tactics that you can execute to help you achieve a specific set of financial goals better and faster, so you can maximize your return on investment. With a Game Plan, you are set up capitalized on any new opportunity arise, within the scope of these SMART financial goals, so you are able to make calculated decisions in how you spend and invest your time and money to achieve these goals.

you up in a way where you money works for you, and you can leverage what you have, in time and money to maximize your opportunities and getting the best returns at the right time.

Navigating the Financial Independence Journey

including you, based on your education level and life experience or your level of Financial Literacy.

Does your definition of Financial Independence or Freedom change with age and the life experience that you have already lived, including where you are now with your money and financials? What about what you see as being possible in your future life?

There are 8 levels of Financial Independence that you can achieve on your path to Financial Freedom… as outlined later in this blog and where I have also provided a Financial Independence Roadmap to help you to define, pin point or calculate what is your financial context.

This Financial Independence Roadmap is a tool while a Financial Game Plan is a strategy including a set of tactics that you may or may not deploy. Both tool and strategy if used and applied intelligently will support you to improve you level of Financial Independence and ultimately help you achieve what you deem to be Financial Freedom for you. Your knowledge and ability to define and execute the strategy as well as using the tool depends on your level of Financial Literacy.

CTA – get the guide … use my guide, based on my journey, etc…

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