I am in my 5th year of the Freedom Program. As a high school student, I was able to work ahead and ended up being able to “graduate” after my sophomore year. I stayed in high school for the normal time, but since I had my transcript and classes completed, I was able to use my junior year to go through a trade school for massage therapy. I started the Freedom Program when I officially graduated from high school as an 18-year-old. Two years into the program I got married, and my husband and I reset our financial goal as a couple. My husband has his undergrad for pre-chiropractic, and we have been working towards him going to grad school for his chiropractic degree. We hit our financial target and graduated from the Freedom Program in August of 2022, which would have been my 4th year of the program. We have continued to follow the Freedom Program as we prepare to move in March of 2024 for my husband to go to school.
I had not hit my financial target when I got married, but my husband and I worked with our primary mentor to reset our target as a couple. We set our new target at $160k, double my original target, and we hit this target by my 4th year of the program.
My primary job is as an office manager for a landscape company. I started working in the office as a 14-year-old, because that was the job that was available at the time. I have found that I really enjoy many aspects of bookkeeping and have been able to grow in my understanding of accounting and business management through this job. I have been able to have great conversations with both business owners, learning about profit vs. cash flow, and EBITDA, and accounting as it applies to business.
I never would have thought that this would interest me, but as I did the work in this field interest has popped up.I have continued to use my massage therapy license as a part time business, and most continuing education is expensive, so I have been more cautious about where I want to spend money for what I will be able to learn in return. However, there are a lot of free resources that I have enjoyed using to learn more about holistic health, like books, podcasts, other practitioners, etc. I think this will be a life-long interest for me. I never thought I would be interested in accounting or business, but as I got to work in bookkeeping at my primary job, I found all sorts of interest growing around the subject of business. I still don’t know if I would enjoy the process of owning and running a business, but experience has opened a world of interest that I never would have explored before.
I would love to be a mom, and I really believe that everyday offers opportunities to practice patience, consideration, time management, people skills, humility, etc. My husband would love to own a business one day, and I believe that the understanding and practice I am able to have in the present will be a benefit for both of us if that were to happen someday.
Everyday I am faced with the opportunity to practice humility, patience, grace, and forgiveness as well as a whole host of practical skills, like time management, people management, setting deadlines and accomplishing tasks. While most of this is carried out in a business setting as opposed to a home setting, I believe these skills translate into my ability to manage a household and be a caring wife and mother.
My annual income is around $40,000, it can ebb and flow a little depending on how much I take on other work outside of my primary job.
It seems really fancy to say that I have a “professional network” but I do believe that I have a great network for things related to my work. For my primary job, I have relationships with the business owners, our accountants, the people who manage our 401k, our insurance people. This network was built naturally from my role at my job, but has been a great place for me to learn and built a frame of reference for many different situations as it relates to running a business. For my massage therapy job, I have worked on my own, as well as spending a couple of years working part time for a chiropractor to build my skills and frame of reference. Going to education conventions has also been a great way to build relationships with other therapists and increased my professional network in that area.
Most of my mentors have been people that were already in my life, or who I admired for how they lived out their faith. I find that a lot of people find the term “mentor” to be a bit intimidating, so I usually just ask someone if I can meet them for coffee, or a walk and ask them some questions. Some of these people I meet regularly, and some are just once or twice. I have learned a lot from these people, more recently: How do you transition well in friendships when moving? What does it look like to live out your faith daily? How do you navigate tricky relationships in a way that is loving? How do you build community?With most of my mentors I ask questions that relate more to emotional and spiritual freedom, for the other areas I reference more “mentors” in the form of books or podcasts, etc. These have been helpful for me in learning about business and money management, etc.
For anything to grow, you need to invest time into it. Spiritual and emotional freedom are harder to measure than financial or vocational freedom. Mentors have played a huge role for me in my spiritual, and emotional growth, and I see this as a life-long pursuit. I think one of the biggest practical ways for me to pursue growth in any of these areas is to not be afraid to ask questions and learn to be ok with making mistakes. Give something a try and be engaged and intentional in how you think about and process the information you get from an attempt. Some things may turn into interests and pursuits, others you may be terrible at, but they bring you great joy. Somethings teach you how to deal graciously with failure and others uncover areas of genius in your own life.
I am glad that I did the program. I think without some sort of structure I would have drifted about aimlessly. It has been so good for me to intentionally pursue each of the F.I.V.E.S. and to be able to capture the lessons that happen along the way.
I would recommend this program to others, especially those who are self-motivated, and willing to learn from life experience, and those who don’t have a certain next step for their lives. Even if it is just for one year, the intentionality and awareness that the Freedom Program promotes is better than wasting time by aimlessly wandering between things.
There can be a loneliness that happens, because a lot of people don’t understand what you are doing, and it is different than a lot of the people around you. I’ve had to realize that no matter where you are, deep friendship requires time and energy. I am learning to be an initiator, and to pursue friendships instead of waiting for them to happen. Because finances are so much easier to measure than the other freedoms, it can be difficult to keep all five areas of freedom in focus. It is easy to become focused on financial progress and neglect others. It has helped me to set reasonable goals in the other areas, so that there is a way to “measure” my progress. For example: I want to meet up with a friend for coffee and ask them ________. I really am noticing that I need to practice patience, how can I do that this week? I keep talking about wanting to learn about this technique, how can I take a step toward that? For me, awareness and accountability have been the best ways to overcome my own tendency to drift through life.
Even though I have graduated, I do still consider myself to be doing the program, as in, I still check in with a primary mentor, capture lessons, pursue opportunity, and save aggressively, since my husband and I plan for him to go to grad school soon. But the intentionality to learn from life experience is something I want to carry with me for the rest of my life. There are lessons everywhere, and I don’t want to walk by them without gathering them in.
Because the FreePro is not just about finances, I had the opportunity to work in Colorado for three summers at a camp, doing ministry with youth and families. This was not a financially beneficial time, but I grew and learned a lot in Spiritual, Emotional, and Intellectual freedom. Those were really special, and really formative summers for me, and I am thankful to have gotten to spend time there, and have it be a part of my FreePro experience.