Why Financial Freedom is So Important to Living Your Dreams

Nely Galan, author of the new book SELF MADE, believes there is no true empowerment until you are financially self-reliant. Here is her real-world advice for taking ownership of your money so you can follow your passions, whatever they may be.

The little-known secret to a life that's exactly your cup of tea? Prioritizing your finances first.

Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy you freedom. Nely Galan, a Cuban immigrant whose family moved to the States with next to nothing and who became a media and real-estate mogul, believes achieving financial freedom is key for holding the reigns to your life firmly in your own hands. After rising through the ranks at Telemundo to become the first Latina president of entertainment for a U.S. television network, she’s now showing other women the ropes on how to master their money, and therefore, their own destinies. How? By sharing how she sacrificed and blazed her own path to being financially self-reliant, such as by strategically buying property, creating her own production company and finding her side hustle. Here the author of the new book, SELF MADE: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way, and change agent who launched The Adelante Movement in order to encourage women to think more like entrepreneurs, shares her top seven tips for moving from survival mode to living out your dreams.

You have to save yourself. “I always say this whole self-made thing is not something that I’ve invented, it’s something that I’ve watched happen under my nose and I’m just naming it. It’s about really realizing that no one’s going to save you. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a community, because it’s important to find your team. However, in the end, it’s about self-reliance, and creating the life you want. You have to visualize it and make it happen, because no one’s going to pat you on the back and tell you you’re a good girl.”

Find your side hustle. “My parents could not afford my school when I was in junior high, so I found a way to raise the money myself by selling Avon. At 13, I didn’t go on and on about how horrible it was; I just did it. And it worked!  I’m very mathematical, so to me, I think, ‘What’s the formula I’m going to have to figure out to fix this problem?’ There’s always a way if you just keep thinking! I’ve yet to find a problem that didn’t have a solution.”

See that your pain is your purpose. “In your pain is your brand. Every time a woman says, ‘You don’t know what happened to me.’ I say, ‘That experience came into your life for a reason. And if you don’t use it, you’re wasting it.’ If I wasn’t the kid of immigrants, if I did not see my parents go through having everything taken away from them but then turn that experience of suffering into something positive, I couldn’t have been the president of a network that tells the story of immigrants. When I see people with transcendent businesses, 90 percent of the time they came from their pain. It’s clean start-up 101: What’s your problem? Fix your problem and find an audience for your problem.”

Trust yourself. “I feel like my intuition is everything. I do an exercise every weekend where I write down questions for myself and then write down the answers. Because I find that I really know, inside of me, what is best for me. When I do this exercise, it’s like another voice appears. When I don’t listen to that, I make terrible mistakes. I feel that my intuition is very, very, very strong and has always led me in the right direction.”

Be a landlord, not a tenant. “You don’t have to go out and buy your own home. I would recommend women buy an income property first. Or buy a duplex or something where someone else pays the rent so you start engaging that gene of being a landlord. Their rent should cover most of your mortgage, and so you live close to free. That’s how we have to think. You need a head start where you’re saving a lot of money for a while.”

Know that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. “If I could do my life over again, I would have bought franchises. Why invent a business from scratch? There are so many opportunities in America where you don’t have to invent anything. It’s okay to just cookie cutter it. It doesn’t always have to be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Start small. “I’m not telling you to leave your job tomorrow, or that everyone is an entrepreneur. However, if you don’t start engaging your entrepreneurial muscles in some small way, it’s going to be tough to achieve financial freedom. You don’t have to be grandiose about it, but you must start somewhere. For example, try starting with one hour a week on a Sunday by taking something out of your closet that you don’t want and posting it on eBay or Amazon. You’re going to see how easy it is to make money, and you’re going to become addicted to extra cash.”

Be a tortoise. “I have not done anything fast. I’m a turtle. I don’t change my life in a dramatic way. I begin things and I go, ‘Okay I can do this, I can do a bit more.’ And in the end, I win the race. Most people are like, “I’m going to do this great thing!” and at the end of the year, they’ve done nothing.  I take little baby steps, and once I commit, then I go ahead without caring if it takes me one year, two years, five years, or ten years. For example, I went back to school at 45 and I didn’t finish early. No matter how long it takes, I get it done. If we want something, we all can figure it out.”