Point to Ponder:

You need a vision for your finances just as you need a vision for your life. Get clear. Write it down. Then start walking toward it.

In a culture that often equates wealth with materialism, it’s no wonder debt is out of control and savings are low. Answer these questions for yourself: Do you know how much you’ll need for retirement? Are you on track to get there? If you lost your job or business dried up, how long could you pay your monthly expenses without borrowing? How about debt? If you have it, by what date will you eliminate it? Have you even imagined the prospect of having no debt?

You can build personal wealth and a greater sense of financial well-being, but it begins with imagination. Take a moment right now and close your eyes. Imagine what it would feel like to be financially free—no debt, house paid for, plenty saved, good income, and no financial worries. A good feeling, indeed, isn’t it? For most Americans, the idea of financial freedom feels elusive—like a far-off dream too distant to attempt. But I challenge you to dream a bigger dream and take steps to bring that dream to life.

Whether the dream of financial freedom is three years away or thirty, wouldn’t it be worth it to start doing the things today that will leave you and those you love wealthier tomorrow? Here are five ways to do just that:

1. Envision yourself financially free.

It begins with imagining the possibility. With God, all things are possible. Begin seeing yourself in a better position financially. Rather than beating yourself up for mistakes or missteps, learn from them. Write down your money goals and post them where you will see them often. You need a financial vision.

2. Stop letting your emotions rule your money.

Do you spend to feel better? Out of guilt? To keep up with the Joneses? Emotional spending will curse your finances as you dig a deeper and deeper hole of debt.

3. Invest in more than a job.

Invest in education and knowledge that maximize your earning potential. But also invest in opportunities to create passive income by considering a business or solid real estate investment that can help you build recurring income over time.

4. Choose experiences over things.

Money spent on experiences with people brings more happiness than money spent on things. Consider that the next time you think you just have to have the latest gadget or new car. Building emotional wealth reaps meaningful rewards. Don’t get trapped on the hedonic treadmill of wanting more and more stuff. Over time, you’ll find it takes more and more to satisfy your appetite—and that includes more money.

5. Save consistently and unrelentingly.

If you were taught to save as a kid, you are ahead of the game! For many people, saving is a skill they must hone. While the amount you save is important, even more important is the consistency with which you save. Set up automatic deductions from your paycheck or checking account so you don’t have to think about it. Learn to live on a smaller percentage of your income—just pretend you make less—and save the difference. Over time, you will see your wealth grow.