Financial freedom is about having enough residual income to cover your ideal living expenses. When it comes to financial freedom, most of us may think that pure accumulation is the name of the game. And the common metric that most people including financial advisors/ YouTubers/ Finfluencers love to use to understand their financial status and how close they are to financial freedom is to simply calculate their net worth. This article will explain why net worth alone is an insufficient indicator.
Net worth is only a snapshot in time
Net worth is defined as the value of our assets minus the liabilities we owe. For example, if a person has $800,000 in assets (including their home, car, investments, and savings) and $500,000 in liabilities (including their mortgage, car loan, and credit card balances), their net worth would be $300,000 ($800,000 – $500,000).
A positive net worth may indicate an abundance of financial resources currently but it does not tell us if a person has enough cash on hand to meet existing expenses or to be able to invest in new opportunities. Conversely, a negative net worth may indicate financial difficulties, but a positive cash flow can cover living expenses and allows for more investment opportunities for future growth.
In other words, cash flow can be a more accurate reflection of a person’s ongoing financial health and how close he is to financial freedom because it reflects his ability to generate and manage cash in the present and future, rather than simply measuring their accumulated wealth at a single point in time. In the same vein, companies with high cash flow are more attractive to investors than those that simply have high net worth.
Cash flow opens us more freedom and opportunities
A positive cash flow can give one the freedom to quit his day job and still lead a financially stable life. The excess cash can be used to invest in dividend yielding stocks which establishes an income that in itself could be used in building future wealth. Apart from that, one can also have the freedom of using some of the spare cash to spend on other things such as travel and luxuries.
On the other hand, a high net worth individual might have assets that are pretty illiquid or fluctuate based on the prevailing market conditions. He might not necessarily enjoy the financial confidence that he used to when faced with market crashes and may even have to liquidate his assets at a loss in order to raise cash. Or in the event he gets retrenched or quits working, he may not be able to pay for the hefty lifestyle expenses, taxes or car loans. In such a situation there is no financial security even, let alone financial freedom.
A person can survive without any money accumulated, but he cannot easily get by without the cash flow.
Having a large net worth is useful and can give more options to create more passive income. But ultimately do not lose sight of the fact that it is only by having a larger cash inflows than cash outflows that can enable us to be financially free. If you want to stop working, you need to figure out how to close up the gap between how much you are spending and how much passive income you can be receiving. The trick is to be able to use your existing wealth to invest in income-producing assets in order to create lasting wealth. And with a positive cash flow, you will then continue to add to your net worth naturally in any case.
The greatest misconception about financial freedom I see often is the over-focus on accumulation. People tend to track their progress or level of financial success based on how much money they accumulate, aka their net worth. While having money in the bank is important, having a reliable cash flow should really be the goal.
These conflicting ideas could be why so many people think that they are on the path toward achieving freedom but never seem to reach it. They fall short of the goal because they don’t really dive into what is necessary for financial freedom and are solely focused on accumulating assets. Make #4dayweekend a reality by focusing more on generating your cashflow.
Cash is not king. Cash flow is king. #cashflow #MoneyTalks #financetips pic.twitter.com/LOocLmGoL0— The Joyful Investors (@JoyfulInvestors) March 22, 2023
Banker turned research analyst/co-trainer at The Joyful Investors. I hope to help investors create more joyful investing outcomes. Before joining TJI, I had the opportunity to work alongside fund managers and provide wealth advisory and financial planning advice for private clients with banks and independent financial advisors for more than over a decade.
This document is for information only and does not constitute an offer or solicitation nor be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any of the investments mentioned. Neither The Joyful Investors Pte. Ltd. (“The Joyful Investors”) nor any of its officers or employees accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this publication or its contents. The views expressed are solely the opinions of the author as of the date of this document and are subject to change based on market and other conditions.
The information provided regarding any individual securities is not intended to be used to form any basis upon which an investment decision is to be made. The information contained in this document, including any data, projections and underlying assumptions are based upon certain assumptions and analysis of information available as at the date of this document and reflects prevailing conditions, all of which are accordingly subject to change at any time without notice and The Joyful Investors is under no obligation to notify you of any of these changes.
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