Harry and Meghan Had ‘Very Little Money’ — 5 Ordinary Ways They Became Financially Free (and You Can, Too)

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On March 31, 2020, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, started their journey to officially transition out of their roles as senior members of the British royal family.

Although Queen Elizabeth II was publicly supportive of the couple’s “desire to create a new life as a young family” and to “not want to be reliant on public fund in their new lives,” the press continues to have a field day with its coverage — some say persecution — of the couple.

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As Page Six reported in February, royal expert and author Tom Bower claims that Meghan was particularly upset to learn that Harry had “very little money” when they first met. “She had imagined he would be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, and she is having to make up for it now,” Bower says.

But whether Meghan is as “money-obsessed” as Bower and the U.K. press claim depends on how truthful and responsible you believe the U.K. press to be. Regardless, the move away from royal duties and Sovereign Grant support means the couple had to learn to be financially independent in a short amount of time.

Of course, achieving financial freedom is easier when you inherit millions and can command money from podcast contracts and multimillion book deals. But gaining financial independence is doable, even if you’re more average Joe than majestic Meghan. There are surprisingly ordinary ways you can become financially free if you’re willing to put in the time and the commitment.

1. Establish Life Goals

Whenever you read anything about Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave the monarchy behind, it wasn’t made solely to avoid the spotlight and the press. This massive move was also rooted in pursuing life and family goals. With interests and income streams reaching far outside those imposed upon by royal duty, the couple is free to explore charitable enterprises and earn professional income.

Whether big or small, financial or lifestyle-driven, you need to create a blueprint for achieving your goals and reevaluate them regularly to keep focus on what matters when striving toward financial freedom. Check in on the bigger picture periodically to ensure that adjustments needed along the way based on changing circumstances don’t derail your progress.

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2. Create a Budget

Budgeting is for those barely getting by, right? Wrong. Budgeting is an essential part of financial freedom for everyone, not just “once-royals.” In their infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey two years ago, Harry revealed that their transition couldn’t have been done without the inheritance from his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. In 2020, the couple was financially cut off from the royal family and relied on the generosity of friends to help them out.

Creating a budget allows you to track your income and expenses so that you can make more informed decisions about where your money is going and how much you should be saving each month. Building a budget and sticking to it is essential for creating stability in your life.

3. Pay Off Debt

Living a cloistered, prosperous life as a royal, Prince Harry never wanted for anything. He and Meghan probably never will, but they’ll need to actually be conscious of what they owe. And so will you.

Paying off debt can help free up more money each month that can be used for other purposes such as saving or investing, rather than paying down interest charges on loans or credit cards. Prioritizing debt repayment is an important step toward achieving financial freedom.

4. Set Up an Emergency Fund

Again, do the Sussexes need to squirrel away six to eight months’ worth of expenses should one of them lose income or have to pay for an unexpected loss? Maybe not. But building an emergency fund is a mandatory action plan that everyone should consider should something startling happen overnight.

Having that financial buffer can save you from having to make impulsive or incorrect money decisions in the event of a job loss or accident, for example. And take note: Your emergency fund should be separate from any tax-advantaged retirement account that might be tricky to access.

5. Take Care of Yourself

The whole point of becoming financially free is to have the ability to have resources with little or no worry. But it’s also about achieving peace of mind. Meghan’s struggles with her mental health and the couple’s support for cause-driven work is well-documented. And after all, the main impetus for their lifestyle and geographical change is to grow their family away from damaging influences.

Maintaining proper mental and physical health will not only save you money but will propel you in your journey. Becoming financially free may sound daunting, but taking steps toward improving your spending and saving patterns will help you gain control and inch closer to your own unique version of financial independence.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Harry and Meghan Had ‘Very Little Money’ — 5 Ordinary Ways They Became Financially Free (and You Can, Too)