Desoto County News

Harris: Financial Freedom in July

By Charlestien Harris

In the month of July, the nation celebrates its freedom. Also called Independence Day, the Fourth of July is a public holiday in the United States of America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies free from British rule. Just as the states declared their freedom, you can declare your financial freedom. July 1st is recognized as National Financial Freedom Day!

Personal finance is the financial management performed by an individual or family unit. It involves budgeting, saving, and spending money. Getting the help you need is a necessary step in improving your personal finances. The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) was established in 1984 at Iowa State University, and the Academy of Financial Services (AFS) was founded in 1985 – these two institutions represent important milestones in the history of personal finance. As the years have progressed, there has been a greater degree of interest in financial literacy, especially among women and youth.

Charlestien Harris

I have been a credentialed member of AFCPE as a financial counselor for over 20 years, and financial freedom is a topic that is near and dear to me. Here are some of my suggestions on how to observe your financial freedom day throughout the month of July!

Understand what financial freedom means to you.
Financial freedom means having enough money to cover living expenses and pursue life goals without having to work to generate income. It can also mean having complete control over your finances, making choices based on your goals and desires instead of worrying about costs. Before you can start planning for financial freedom, you need to understand what it would look like for you. This is a fundamental first step in achieving a solid plan and a great opportunity to understand yourself better financially.

  • Gather your financial thoughts.
    Financial freedom is a great goal. If you struggle with personal finances, National Financial Freedom Day is the perfect opportunity to learn and improve your financial literacy! Take time out of your day to do some reading. Once you figure out your financial goals, the next step is to gather resources to help you achieve those goals. Having a plan in place will help you keep your goals on track. Start this process by clearly defining your financial goals. Visualize what financial success would be to you and write down the measurable aspects of this goal. The more specific you are at defining your objectives, the easier it will be for you to formulate a targeted plan. Include specific amounts, timelines, and tangible benchmarks.
  • Begin learning more about investing.
    A common stepping stone toward financial freedom is investing. Start your journey to financial freedom by researching and educating yourself about investing. To build potential wealth in the future, you’ll want to start investing to make your money work for you. Focus on long-term investments rather than short-term ones, and diversify your portfolio. Invest in risk-appropriate assets in line with your risk tolerance, and be prepared to weather the ups and downs of the financial markets. If you don’t quite understand the industry jargon, seek the help of a professional. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is more than qualified to assist you with your investment needs. If you don’t know where to start, you can go online at to find a qualified professional.
  • Create multiple streams of income.
    You might be familiar with the old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Creating multiple income streams will help you achieve financial security and is key to achieving financial freedom. If you have multiple ways of earning money, you can save more and are less likely to go into debt, even if one of your income sources is compromised. Aside from your primary income source, you can apply for a part-time job, take up side hustles, or start a small business from home to earn more money. These are just suggestions, but at least you have some ideas to begin the process!
  • Save for your financial future.
    I am an advocate for making saving a priority for your financial health. After creating a budget that works for you, paying off your debt, and creating multiple income streams, all that’s left to do is save for the future until you reach your desired savings goal. The odds of reaching financial freedom and early retirement are in your favor as long as you stick to your plan.

Financial freedom can mean having enough savings, investments, and cash on hand to afford the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family. It can also mean growing a nest egg that will allow you to retire or pursue any career you want without being driven by the need to earn a certain amount of income. 

For more information on this or other financial topics, you can visit our Learning Center, email me at or call me at 662-624-5776.

Until next week – stay financially fit!

Charlestien Harris is our financial contributor, a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles are seen in a number of publications around the region.