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True Independence Does Not Come From Bottle Rockets – Or Does It?

Reflections on money to burn and the hope that our pockets get a little fuller.

There are so many clichés about freedom and patriotism during the days that surround July 4. Whether you are getting a great deal on a new car, furniture or new carpet for your home, there seem to be many reasons to celebrate that have nothing to do with our forefathers (but if you can get a good deal, by all means, spend those Benjamins!).

Of course, there is the excitement of fireworks, although the crowds, summer heat and thunderstorms can have a way of lessening the festivities. Some of the glitz and glamour is lost if you are standing in the rain, sweating like crazy or getting eaten up by mosquitoes while outside watching fireworks. To quote my son, “this isn’t fun!”

I could encourage patriotism by writing again about voting, since I believe all of us have this basic responsibility to our country. Or I could expand on last week’s column and congratulate Mehlville on being independent from the confines of a municipality, free from mayoral oppression. But none of those ideas seems inspiring enough for this special day.

Instead, I prefer to celebrate Independence Day 2011 by reflecting on the type of independence all of us want: financial independence.

As I sit here listening to screaming bottle rockets and thunderous roman candles, not only am I glad it's not dry outside (less of a fire hazard) but wondering if I remember fewer fireworks last year. I want to reason that more fireworks were purchased this year, because people have more money to spend.

I am hopeful that even if our pocketbooks are not as flush as they used to be, at least our mindsets are becoming more positive. It is pretty depressing to think about how to pay your bills all the time. Have we started to save more? Do we spend more wisely? Or are we just so used to getting by that we don’t even notice the difference?

Unemployment is creeping down, and it no longer seems to be news to anyone. Our collective mindset is moving on to something else to worry about, like how to beat this incredible July heat.

To be truly independent, we should do what we have already wanted to do— keep on going. Hanging on is what we, as Americans, do best. Celebrate your financial independence and keep making the best decisions you can. Own your independence. You’re the only one who can.

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