Without saving money, financial success is impossible. With it however, success is almost inevitable.

Many people dream about a day when they can retire from work and begin doing anything they want. For most people, this means freedom from jobs they hate with all the money they need to live the life they want. They fantasize about a time when they would have no bills to pay, lots of money in the bank, and be able to travel the world eating at the best restaurants, staying in the fanciest hotels, resorts and seeing the world’s most beautiful sites.

Who would not want to be free from money worries? There is an old saying that ‘money cannot buy happiness’. No matter how true that is, it is equally obvious that money can eliminate a lot of problems and make life a lot easier.

I see South Africans spending a fortune on lotto tickets daily. They think that if they just had enough money, all their problems would be solved (at least the financial ones), and they could live a life of ease. Sadly that doesn’t happen – and even if they got the millions, they never achieve this financial freedom because they waste it all away.

Interestingly enough, much as some people want to have financial independence, I hear nothing about the money freedom plan, or how they can achieve it.

Here is an inside secret about financial independence and finding happiness in life generally: you have the potential to experience financial freedom and to do so sooner than you think. The key to understand is: Financial independence is not generated by temporary levels of wealth or income but by setting correct priorities in your life, exercising self-discipline when making financial decisions, living without consumer debt and claiming it as a personal emotional and mental attitude.

Let me explain. Your top three priorities must include savings if you are to be independent. It is important for you to choose to save than spend. Unfortunately most South Africans choose spending over saving.

Exercising discipline is the second step toward achieving financial independence. Many people have heard about delayed gratification but thousands of them have not learnt to practice it!

Achieving financial independence absolutely requires us to stop spending money unnecessarily and impulsively. It must be spent mindfully and by plan.

Almost every retail store is arranged around the fact that most of us are undisciplined spenders. You’ll find bread and milk towards the back of the store and chocolates, sweets and other goodies right next to the till. Retailers know we’ll buy because we see it. Monkey see, monkey buy means no financial independence.

Being without debt is critical to financial independence as people without debt get to save or invest a lot of money and are still able to spend every month. Once that fact gets firmly implanted in your mind, your financial thinking will never be the same again. Buying a home may be an exception to this rule but if you increase your monthly payments, you will be debt free quicker.

Financial independent is not so much dependent on the amount you have or your income but rather being free from the limitations that people experience because of their financial entanglements. It’s not about being able to buy an expensive car or home but about the realization that the things you’ve always wanted to do don’t cost much and that you can afford to do everything you really want to do once you learn to control your finances.