Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a popular theory of psychology that shapes human needs into a pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

At the bottom are basic physiological needs (food, air, water) that must be fulfilled before you can think about attaining others. For example, how could you concentrate on self-improvement and cultivating relationships if your basic physical needs haven’t been met?

The shape of the pyramid suggests that you must have a solid foundation to build on. You start with the basics- food, water, shelter- and advance to higher levels as each need is fulfilled.

The same metaphor can be applied to financial health.

Steps to Financial Freedom

 

You start with the essentials– build a healthy attitude toward your finances and having a source of income.  Figure out what you want from your finances. What do you need? What are your goals? Are you saving up for a home? Paying down debt?

Once you’ve cultivated the basics, you can move on to the second level. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the second step is to be safe and secure, both socially and physically.

In Moran’s Hierarchy of Financial Health, your safety and security rests on your ability to pay for essentials- food, rent, insurance- and eliminate any debt you may have.  Starting to eradicate debt is the first step on the road to financial freedom once your basic needs are met.  You might also start a savings account if you are able to- having an emergency fund can save you from drowning in debt in the event of any surprise emergencies, such as car repairs, loss of a job or a medical emergency.

Our third step to financial freedom is personal growth. Knowledge is power- the more you know, the smarter and more informed you’ll be when you make financial decisions. Sign up for creditkarma.org to study your credit score. Learn what components of that number you’re doing well in or could use improvement.  Read financial blogs. Create a budget tailored to your goals and income.

Once you’ve gotten your finances in order and educated yourself on the topic of personal finance, you will be prepared to use the your new financial knowledge to begin to make investments and grow your savings.

From here, it’s a short step up to the top of the pyramid. Congratulations- you’ve reached financial freedom! You can easily meet all your basic needs, are knowledgeable on the topic of financial health, debt-free and have realized some of your goals. You have ample savings and perhaps some investments- it can be a long and difficult climb to the top of the pyramid, but it will certainly be worth it as you’re finally able to kick back, relax, and leave your economic troubles behind.