Becoming Financially Independent is no small feat. Like any formidable goal, it takes motivation, focus, and systems. I recall hearing about athletes going to "Sports Psychologists"; I used to dismiss it as something weak people needed. However, I realized that competing at a high level and striving for large goals requires a very similar MINDSET; regardless of whether the goal is physical or financial. Mindset is a little hard to define; however, you should think of it as identifying exactly what you want(Motivation) and exactly what you are willing to do to get it(Focus).
If you're just getting started in figuring out the Financial Independence problem for yourself a great starting point is calculate your Financial Freedom Number. After that you need to develop you mindset with some of the concepts of financial freedom and why real estate is still the best asset. Below are some great books to get started.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
THIS IS REQUIRED READING. For many successful and financially independent people, this is the book that started it all. The concepts in the book are far from complicated but, it brings the mindset of financial independence into focus. The most important concept is "Assets vs Liabilities". Reducing your liabilities and acquiring Assets (cash flow) is essential to Financial Independence. Spend your time and money acquiring PASSIVE INCOME PRODUCING ASSETS! As you do, you will become less and less depending on trading your time for money!!!
Retire Rich with Rentals by Kathy Fettke
I met Kathy at a REIA in Santa Barbara. Kathy has an inspiration story about how she used real estate to become financially independent. Now she's helping others do the same. In this book she makes the case on why real estate is a great investment and how you can get started in acquiring real estate. If you are starting from zero, start with this book.
The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down by Brandon Turner
This is one of my favorite books. It's filled with strategies for getting into real estate with little or no money. If you are looking to become a real estate professional or investor this is a great introduction into acquisition techniques. For most of you, you will not be the guy on the ground wheeling and dealing. You simply want to invest your money on great deals. In that case, reading this book is still useful to understand how investors acquire, fund, and exit real estate deals. It will also show you why investors need your money even more than you need them.
All together, these three books are around 700 pages and around $40. If you're really tight on cash go to a local REIA and ask to borrow these books or even try finding them at your local library.
One last thing. Reading and educating yourself is great, however don't let it be a substitute for reaching out to active investors and taking action. The best education is experience and failure. Go out there and get it TODAY!