Talking about money is one of the most socially taboo conversations in American society. We are startlingly opposed to discussing our finances, even with spouses, children, or close family members. Co...
Britney Spears’ 13-year struggle to break her conservatorship and achieve financial independence recently swept back through the social media spotlight. Fueled by her fans’ support, the #FreeBritney campaign calls for an end to the pop superstar’s fight for financial and personal freedom.
Following a series of very public mental health episodes in 2008, courts placed the then 26-year-old Spears under the temporary conservatorship of her father, Jamie Spears. The order was gradually extended for over a decade, despite Britney’s objections and desire to regain her personal autonomy.
During this time, Spears’ put in the work releasing successful albums, going on worldwide tours, and growing her wealth to over $60 million. Despite this incredible display of competency, Spears is still unable to make any decisions about how her money is spent or invested.
Earlier this summer, after formally petitioning to end her conservatorship, Spears addressed the courts directly in a much-anticipated public hearing. “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people,” she told the judge. “It makes no sense…It’s been 13 years. And it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money.”
Spears’ fierce battle for financial independence may sound like the stuff of tabloid drama, but it’s a struggle many of us can relate to. The stress of feeling like you don’t have direct control over your finances can come in many forms. For Britney, it’s a conservatorship. Others may be trying just as hard to get out from under the crippling weight of student loan debt. Many of us are fighting for the day we don’t have to worry about a $1k emergency destroying our entire budget.
Britney Spears is working toward the same long-term goal that many of us are striving for—financial independence. In part one of our blog series, we’ll discuss the top four benefits of achieving financial autonomy.
Benefit #1: Less Stress
Worrying about how you’re going to make it to the next paycheck or how long it will take you to have enough money to make a down payment on a home can take up a lot of headspace, and stressing about your finances can negatively impact your mental health. Consider the following statistics:
- Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans rank their finances as the most significant source of stress in their life.
- The vast majority—82% of Gen Z respondents and 81% of millennial respondents—noted that their finances are at least somewhat stressful.
- A staggering 86% of people with mental health issues and debt say that their debt makes their mental health issues worse
Constant financial stress can be a huge detriment to one’s mental health. In her address to the courts earlier this year, Brittney Spears described her emotional state after years of struggling to gain control over her finances. “I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she said. One of the biggest benefits of having financial security is not having to spend so much time and mental effort stressing out about money.
Benefit #2: Security for the Future and the Unexpected
What does your ideal financial future look like? For Britney, it’s being able to make her own decisions about how she spends her money. For you, it might look like making that last student loan payment and living debt-free. For others, it’s about having enough money in retirement to pay for the high cost of medical expenses later in life.
For more than half of us, it’s about having enough financial security that an unexpected expense doesn’t destroy our financial plans. A recent survey found that less than half (41%) of American adults have enough savings to pay for a $1,000 emergency room trip or car repair. Another 37% of respondents said they would need to borrow money to cover the cost.
Benefit #3: More Personal Independence
Britney’s court battle is not just about money—it’s about the personal freedom that comes with having the autonomy to make her own financial decisions. Put simply, having financial independence and security gives you a lot more options in life. If you want to move to a different state, that’s going to require having some money in savings. If your goal is to retire and travel the country, you’ll need to factor that into your retirement planning.
Benefit #4: It’s Just More Fun
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but it can absolutely fund a week-long vacation that will result in happiness. Being able to splurge on the wedding dress of your dreams for an unforgettable day is invaluable. Owning a home and being debt-free is an accomplishment worth jumping for joy over! Setting your kids up for success by being able to contribute to a college savings account can give you the intense satisfaction of investing in their future. Living the high life in retirement—whether that means buying an RV and hitting the road or being able to spend more time with the grandkids—is the lifelong goal of many Americans. All these goals are attainable with financial independence and stability.
One of the biggest moves in Britney’s fight for financial freedom came at the end of her hearing in July, when she was finally allowed to hire her own legal counsel to represent her in court. Being able to get reliable advice from a source she trusts to act in her best interests is paramount to her ability to achieve her goal. Her follow-up post on Instagram after her big win in court shows that Spears is well on her way to happiness:
“This is me celebrating by horseback riding and doing cartwheels today,” she wrote. “#FreeBritney.”
Now that you know the benefits of financial independence, the next step is making it happen! In part two of our blog series, we’ll give you tips for creating and implementing an actionable plan to help you achieve your financial goals. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr has been the Marketing Content Writer at SWBC since 2019. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.