Reframing Independence Day

By Lewis J. Walker, CFP®

In Congress, July 4, 1776, “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America” was published, dissolving the political bands that connected them to England and an oppressive king, stating in succinct language the reasons why. Google the document. Read it. It stirs the patriotic soul!

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...”

The 56 men who signed the document were branded as traitors by the King of England, who commanded one of the most powerful military forces on earth. In doing so the framers boldly stated, “For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Like the men and women who serve in our military, and who have served since the birth of our republic, freedom has been and is secured by the brave who lay it all on the line for God and country. The patriots of 1776 called on Divine Providence, yet today we see efforts to ban references to the Almighty from the public domain.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” The Declaration of Independence promises only the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It does not guarantee or define “happiness.” How you attain happiness and wellbeing is up to you. Make this July 4 the day you formulate your own Declaration of Independence.

For young adults it may be breaking free from the Bank of Mom and Dad. (Do I hear cheers in the background?). It may be deciding to attain or complete your education, whether academic pursuits, or occupational skills training, either vocational education or on-the-job training. In our brave new world you will be competing with workers globally, and with robots and computers.

Gallup states that only 22% of the workers in the average company are engaged. Roughly half of the employees in the typical company are looking to change jobs or could be enticed to do so. If that’s you, what are you going to do about it? If you are an employer, what are you going to do about it?

A neighbor recounted how her husband is treated in a major company in Atlanta. As she sees it, they treat people like sheep, like irresponsible children. Turnover is substantial. “But they don’t care,” she said. Again, the operative question is, “What to do about it?” How much are you willing to lay on the line to achieve happiness and independence?

How do you define financial independence? Is it having enough wealth or sources of unearned income that you don’t have to work actively for basic necessities?

What would you do if money was not a worry? Would you continue to work as you do now, or would you do something else? Do you have to wait until you “retire” to do the “something else”? Maybe not.

Do you have “bucket list” desires framed as “someday” or “when I retire?” We have seen too many instances of “someday” never coming due to infirmity or death. Circles still broken. Why wait? Set a time frame. Figure out how much money you will need and save toward the goal. Planning and working toward an objective is half the fun!

Create a Freedom Fund that has sufficient liquid capital that allows you and your family to live for periods of time with no income. When you retire, set up a Paycheck Fund that contains enough liquid safe capital that allows you to live without selling stocks or other temporarily depressed assets to run you life.

July 4, 2017.  The day you declare your march toward financial independence. May God bless you, your loved ones, and America!

Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603.  Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group

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