Personal Finance

The Top 10 Coolest Gifts Financial Freedom Has Given Me

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
24 Articles Written
Sweet moments concept. Cropped photo hands with gift. Man sharing present to her woman. They standing inside cafe

As I sit here in the mall composing my thoughts about writing this article, I am overcome with a sense of joy and accomplishment from achieving “financial independence.” This term that we throw around — “financial freedom” — has a different definition for every single one of us. I would like to expand upon what financial freedom means to me, the definitions of achievement and success, and what I have been able to focus upon during this transitional period in my life.

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I have the date March 1, 2016 etched into my mind because that is the day I officially retired from the restaurant that I had owned for the past 22 years. I had several reasons for wanting to get out of the restaurant business. One of the main motivating factors for me w as that I had become bored and unsatisfied at work. I was not growing and contributing in any meaningful way. I recently wrote an article about the six human needs. At the time, I was satisfying the first four fundamental needs, but the fifth need of growth and the six need of contribution were sorely lacking.

Enjoy the Climb

Through my journey towards financial freedom, I discovered the definition of achievement and success. An achievement is the attainment of a goal, while success is a feeling. When I began investing in real estate to pursue my goal of exiting the rat race, I remember buying my first deal. It was a huge achievement, but I lacked the feeling of success. I experienced the same feeling with my second and third purchase. I only experienced the feeling of success when I realized that it’s not about reaching the peak of the mountain; it’s about enjoying the climb. I was always focused upon the next goal or step without enjoying the moment.

Financial freedom has allowed me to live and focus in the present and to enjoy the climb. I am able to focus on all of the tasks that I want to. I can choose who I work with, dedicate my energy to the tasks that I am passionate about, and most importantly, not always focus on that next paycheck.

Woman talking on cellphone with the city background under sunlight

The Privilege of Giving Back

I was always driven by earning money, and with six children, you can see my dilemma. But once I achieved financial freedom, I became more concerned with other people’s problems and issues. I now have time to give more of myself and to help others out, with expecting nothing in return. If you want to feel great, go out and do something for someone who can’t reciprocate. It is an amazing feeling of giving yourself freely with expecting nothing back. It was difficult for me to have these thoughts and feelings when all I thought about was paying the bills.

I began a life coaching business and started a real estate education company while I was running the restaurant. Remember the word “focus” I mentioned earlier? Whatever you focus upon grows. I was unable to focus on these two passions while I was working. Once I left my business, these two endeavors flourished because that is all I focused upon. As a result, I now have a very popular podcast on iTunes that is impacting and motivating thousands of listeners every day, and my coaching business allows me to help those who are in the same quandary that I once found myself in.

Reclaiming the Most Important Resource

Financial freedom has also allowed me to reclaim my time, one of the resources that most of us crave. My life was very structured, and I had very little flexibility. I used to work every holiday and every weekend in the restaurant business. This past Christmas was the first time I had Christmas Eve off since 1995. There is no price that you can put on that freedom. I still work just as many hours; I just choose when I work those hours.

I decided in May of last year to take an extended vacation. With the restaurant business, I was lucky to be able to take a week off for a vacation. I packed my wife and kids into the minivan and headed to St. Augustine for two and a half months to experience Florida living to see if I would like to relocate there. I was pleasantly surprised, and I now have my home on the market, “patiently” waiting to sell so I can move down South. Three years ago, this was not even in the realm of possibility, but financial freedom explodes your possibilities.

Finally, I can focus on growing my portfolio and networking with other real estate investors and professionals. I am doing what I want to do, and this has given me the confidence and the passion to be more successful. I now know why I only owned one restaurant location. I lacked the passion to grow the business. With real estate, I was able to expand the portfolio rapidly because it is my true passion and I derive joy from coming to work every day.

To sum it up, financial freedom has allowed me to look at life through a very different lens. When I achieved financial freedom, I realized it is not about retiring and sitting on a beach. For me, it is about choosing what I want to do, with whomever I choose, whenever I want. Financial freedom has led me to so many more enriching relationships and opportunities. When I look back on my life, I know that I will remember all those important relationships that I developed throughout my life.

I hope that this article has inspired you to focus on achieving financial freedom. If a pizza guy can do it, then there’s nothing stopping you. If you have enough reasons why like me, then you will find out how.

man with blue geans and sneaker shoes in stair

10 Cool Things Financial Independence Has Allowed Me

These are my top 10 cool things about reaching financial independence:

  1. Time freedom
  2. Confidence
  3. New opportunities
  4. Passion for work
  5. Living in the here and now
  6. Focus
  7. Being more engaged in life
  8. The opportunity to grow and become more fulfilled
  9. The ability to contribute and give more freely of myself
  10. Freedom from constant worry about paying the bills

What are the coolest things financial freedom has allowed YOU to do? Has achieving this freedom been different than you imagined?

Let’s talk below!

Gino Barbaro is a father of six and the co-founder of Jake & Gino LLC, a real estate education company focused on multifamily investing. He has grown his portfolio to 674 units in three years and is the best-selling author of "Wheelbarrow Profits".

    Brian Karlow Rental Property Investor from Algonquin, IL (Chicago suburbs)
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Excellent article Gino…… Very real and certainly inspiring! Congrats on your new found balance.
    Ryan Dossey Real Estate Broker from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Awesome. Love it.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    What does Financial freedom look like to you Ryan? Gino
    Obdia Whitmore Investor from Chicago, Illinois
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Yeah, those are pretty much my cool things for financial independence. Good article!
    Moshe H. Rental Property Investor from Ramapo, NY
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks Gino, very inspiring.
    Ken P. Rental Property Investor from Northville, MI
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    For me, real estate is all about providing choices in life. I’m not in the position that you are yet, but hope to be in about 5 – 6 years. Actually I hope to be ABLE to move on to the next phase in life about 3 years from now, but wouldn’t actually leave work until 5 years hence. The extra years will allow me to see the projects I’m working on now to release into the market. As you wrote, Gino, or at least as I understood from what you wrote, the opportunity to grow and be fulfilled and the ability to contribute are higher order human needs. My current day job allows me to contribute and make a positive impact on products that hundreds of thousands of people buy and that are important parts of their lives. But when the next generation of those products launch and I feel I’ve reached the culmination of my career, it will be great to have the freedom to step away from that career and jump in and expand real estate and make a positive impact in other ways, both by providing tenants with great places to live and by having money to positively impact the world. Many colleagues will have no choice but to work for 5, 10, or more years whether they continue to find the work fulfilling or not, but real estate will allow me to leave on my own timeline, and to continue to be fulfilled and contribute. Thanks for the inspiring article!
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    When a friend or family member needs me I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to take time off for a few weeks, & I’m still not worried about making the rent or paying my bills – THAT is freedom. BTW, for me it’s tech, not RE that gives me that freedom. Different folks, different skills. I LOVE RE as a hobby, but I expect it to make a difference in my future, not my present.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Your vehicle is tech, mine is apartments. As long as you get there! Congrats. Let me know if you ever have any questions regarding my vehicle Gino
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    If you are at the NMHC (National Multifamily Housing Council) meeting in San Diego this week come by the tech table in the back & say “hi”. I’ll be the one in the middle surrounded by monitors & gear….
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I would love to have someone from NMHC on our podcast. I wish I was going out this weekend! Have fun.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Only interesting note from day one is that a lot of the bigger investors are, as one speaker put it, “pulling some of their chips off the table”, ie taking some of the profits out of the market, though on such a large scale it’s like trying to understand a foreign language. I’m not even quite sure how to mentally process the concept of a company that sells off 1.2 BILLION in residential rental properties as a “partial” liquidation…as in after the sales they did this with $400 million of it, that with another $400 million, and the other $400 million they put into something else….
    Mike Dymski Investor from Greenville, SC
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Congratulations Gino. I am sure that words can’t fully describe your personal feelings of success. I listened to a podcast over the holidays where you were the guest and I thought to myself, man, Gino is really hitting his stride now. It had less to do with the content and more to do with the delivery. Nice to watch the personal growth…well done!
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks Mike. I am always trying to convey my story of struggle and finding out what my WHY is. I look at work a bit differently. I love to create content and coach investors and people who are looking to take the next step. So many people helped me, and I just want to reciprocate. Any new deals? I keep getting deals down in your neck of the woods but it is getting a bit tougher. Have to stay persistent. Gino
    Mike Dymski Investor from Greenville, SC
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Have not been prospecting but that is going to change pretty soon.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Seek And Ye Shall Find.
    James O'Connor
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Gino, I too retired in 2016 from a job that had grown very old and unfulfilling after 25 years. We began investing in real estate several years ago and have some flexibility/options for a second career in real estate now because of the success we’ve seen so far. I see in your profile 674 units in three years… wow! that’s amazing. Congratulations. I’d be interested to talk with you about how to grow so much so quickly. Please and thank you.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    hi James PM me, and we can set up a call Best Gino
    James O'Connor
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Gino, Eager for the opportunity. Please see my PM in LinkedIn. Best regards, Jim
    Jeremy Mcpherson
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Gino < First off congrats on your succes on gaining financial freedom and growing your potfolio!! My name is Jeremy and I to am into RE , way smaller scale .. I currently have 26 units ( one in the rehab stage )…I know that financial independence is different for everybody and am wanting to quit my reg 9-5 … I cash flow about 6k a month more than I need to keep my family in this same lifestyle …. I'm just concerned about being able to grow my business . I was in the trades as an owner operator in the masonry business for @ 18 years ,before the housing market collapsed. I didnt go under , just closed the doors for lack of work .. I know I have the disipline to work for myself again . But, I'm a little nervous about leaving a100K plus a year job .. . I would love to hear and appreciate and advise thank you, Jeremy
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Jeremy, If you weren’t nervous or fearful, then you wouldn’t be human. It comes down to how badly you want it. If you have a big enough reason why, then those bumps in the road won’t appear to be potholes. I just got sick of earning money and then having very little to show for it on top of finding my job boring and uninspiring. I was moving away from pain to pleasure, a strong motivator! Gino
    Jeremy Mcpherson
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thank you for taking the time Gino , much appreciated !! I understand about being (sick of it ).. It’s painfully clear that I’m nothing but a number where I work and it gives me no sense of pride or accomplishment . My ( why) , is being able to work with my 3 children . Worked with my dad in the summers as a kid and it meant the world to me ..Kinda hope to pass that on to them as well . Thanks for giving me your time .. Awesome article , very motivating !!
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Jeremy, If you weren’t nervous or fearful, then you wouldn’t be human. It comes down to how badly you want it. If you have a big enough reason why, then those bumps in the road won’t appear to be potholes. I just got sick of earning money and then having very little to show for it on top of finding my job boring and uninspiring. I was moving away from pain to pleasure, a strong motivator! Gino
    Bert Wright from Riverside, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Gino, Thank you for writing this article. I am so looking forward to creating a similar life for myself. I have been self-employed for 6 years now. In the beginning, I loved it, but as time went on the grind of waking up “unemployed” everyday, is beginning to wear me out. It is the main reason I looked to RE as an additional income stream that is not SOLELY dependent on my efforts. I wish you much success!
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I worked with my dad as a child and adult and I hope to work with my kids also. All the best Gino
    Michael Ristom from Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article! It’s great to be able to learn from other peoples experiences. Thank you for communicating your thoughts and emotions so clearly. I’m an active duty military member and have always had the desire to serve. I hope that as I establish my business I’ll be able to help those who need another chance to walk the best path for them. We’ll see! Thanks again!
    Andrew Force from Denver, Colorado
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Encouraging to read your story Gino. Good to read about someone who is seeking to and actively giving back to the community. Can you remember a specific event, date, or boom that first lead you down this path? I’m guessing many people would be interested to read more about your story.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    When I got audited, I said to myself, I can’t deal with the paperwork. I need to make more money and get out of my unfulfilling job. My motivation was to move away from pain, and it was a very strong motivator. Most of us don’t make drastic changes unless forced upon or some type of tragedy strikes. It is no coincidence that most people begin to encounter true success in their 40s because they begin to reevaluate their lives and are looking for more Gino
    Michael Petrone Real Estate Agent from Sarasota, Florida
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Gino, I would love to talk with you more about your investing process and your life coaching program. I live in Sarasota, FL which is also an amazing place. I moved here to get back into an area with growth, weather, low taxes and jobs. What is the best way to get in touch? I look forward to hearing from you. Mike Petrone
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Michael you can schedule a complimentary call here: https://calendly.com/gjbarbaro Looking forward to connecting and helping any way I can. I have the same reasons as you to get to Florida Gino
    Gianni Laverde Investor from Corona, NY
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Very inspiring article Gino. Thanks for sharing. I started passively investing in R.E looking towards financial freedom, but still ironing out my ‘why’ which is what I think is lacking for me to make some changes and really go with all the strength towards achieving it. Congratulations on your success!! Gianni
    John C. Investor from New York, NY
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks for the article and inspiration. My wife “retired” last year and I’m just about done with my 20 year career in civil service. Every day I have thoughts of either staying on for more or quitting and devoting more time to REI. You’ve given me more to ponder. Not a bad thing as I’m in not hurry to leave my day job. Yet
    Jen Narciso Investor from Montclair, NJ
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Hi @Gino Barbaro. Congrats on your success! I love hearing financial freedom stories. My husband and I are still on the journey but want to get there in the next two years. We are currently house hacking and will purchase two turnkeys this year. I’d love to learn more on how you scaled up so quickly if your open to sharing. Best of luck to you as you continue your journey!
    Daniel Somers Rental Property Investor from Tiffin, OH
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great article Gino. I can tell how fulfilled your life has become through the way you wrote this article
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied over 2 years ago
    As I have gotten older, possessions have become less of a focus for me. I just want to focus on relationships Gino
    Jorge Vega
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Such inspiring article Gino! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your success.
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thanks Jorge! Let me know if you have any questions Gino
    Cam Jimmy Investor from Anchorage, AK
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Man… I read stories like this and it makes me feel awesome knowing that I can achieve this status someday. I’m actually sitting here at my day job writing this on my break looking around thinking “I can’t wait to not HAVE to come here everyday”. I currently live in a small house that I have a mortgage under, and I have a duplex that breaks even after all expenses. I am just kind of confused on what my next move should be. What ever I choose to do next will hopefully put me on a faster path to becoming financially independent. Anyways, thanks for writing and motivating me!
    Gino Barbaro Rental Property Investor from St Augustine, FL
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Jimmy, remember, before someone was a success, they were a failure. Keep learning and trying and you will get there Gino
    Andrew Garcia from Fort Bragg, NC
    Replied 4 months ago
    Great article Gino. Very inspiring, and motivating. Also reminded me to stop and live in the moment.. there will always be things to do and busy work. Sometimes one must "stop and smell the roses".
    Dante Pirouz Rental Property Investor from Fort Gratiot, MI
    Replied 4 months ago
    Gino...the next article you write, could you help me with my problem?...I'm stuck in the limbo stage: still working a full time job AND managing 15 units because I'm still well short of my Freedom Number of 50 units to replace my income. What did you do to scale your business when you were not yet big enough to go full time into RE? Should I sell the whole portfolio and reinvest it in something bigger? Refi with a commercial lender to pull out equity (very hard to do because of FICO and DTI)? Any suggestions??