Second, your goals must have a deadline. Otherwise, they are just a wish. How many times have you said, "One of these days I'm going to (fill in the blank)?" If you want your declaration of financial independence to last, you have to set goals.

Track your expenses

You have to know where you are currently spending your money to know how to modify your behavior. How you track is not nearly as important as the actual tracking itself. Some people use computer programs. Others use a separate checkbook register. Yet others use a pad of paper and a pen. There's no right or wrong way.

Tracking is a way of keeping score. I relate it to sports. How many people would watch sports if they didn't keep score? We would ask questions such as, "Why is he running around the bases?" "Why are they running up and down the field?" "What is that hole with the net in it, and why do they keep throwing that orange ball in there?"

Tracking answers the question, "Where does it go?" Proverbs 27:23 - "Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds."

Trim your expenses

In the book The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity, author Blaine Harrishe says, "Your level of expenses will always rise to your level of expenses unless you protest to the contrary." That's a fancy way of saying you spend what you make. You have to learn to live on LESS than you make.

If you spend less than you make, you will never struggle financially. Think about it logically. It is impossible to struggle with money if you spend less than you make. Proverbs 21:20 - "The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get."

Be generous

If you want true financial independence, you have to give it away. You have to be willing to give money away in order to allow it to loosen its grip on you. Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 16:2 - "On every Lord's Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once."

This is your chance to declare your financial independence. Will you escape the tyranny of debt or will you continue to suffer?

Originally posted June 28, 2005.

Steve Scalici, CFP® is the Senior Vice President of Treasure Coast Financial, located in South Florida. Steve is available to speak to your church or organization.  You can contact Steve at steve@tcfin.com or 772-600-1053.  Steve is a registered representative of INVEST Financial Corporation.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of INVEST Financial Corporation.