On this Fourth of July, while you're celebrating our nation's independence and recognizing the patriots who fought for our freedom, it's worth considering what it would take to achieve your own freedom and independence, at least of the financial variety.

Financial freedom—having enough money to feel economically secure now and in the future—can seem elusive, particularly in tough times. But financial advisers say the goal of financial freedom is achievable if you commit to specific steps. And fortunately, because so much of personal finance is now automated, you often can leave the knotty daily details to computer algorithms.

1. Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt

Reducing or eliminating credit card balances and other high-interest debt should be a top priority for most people, maintains Harold Pollack, co-author of "The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated." Even the lowest-interest credit cards have annual percentage rates of 9.5 percent annually on balances, according to LowCards.com. So paying off that balance is akin to giving yourself at least a 9.5-percent return. "Paying down your credit card bill offers the highest guaranteed, tax-free rate of return you can possibly receive," Pollack says.

2. Save and Invest 10 to 20 Percent of Income

"Paying yourself first" is key to achieving financial freedom, and works best the earlier you start doing it. Each pay period, transfer a portion of income into an investment account, then leave the money alone. Ask your employer to set up direct deposit, or arrange with your bank or credit union to have money from your checking account moved automatically.

Jennifer Barrett, chief education officer at Acorns, a micro-investing app, suggests using a periodic investing strategy—you buy more shares when prices are low and fewer when prices are high—with the money you put aside. In this way your overall purchases are at a lower cost per share. And over time those periodic contributions can balloon in value, market fluctuations notwithstanding. "Compound interest and growth is the eighth wonder of the world," says Matt Carbray, a Certified Financial Planner based in Avon, Conn.

Don't put money into taxable investments until you've maxed out on contributions to tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs, and MyRAs. Pollack recommends sticking with low-cost index funds and exchange-traded funds. "Most of us do quite terribly at stock-picking," he says. If your financial situation isn't complicated, you can find a low-cost robo-adviser to recommend and manage investments.

If 20 percent of income is too much to set aside, work up to it. Increasingly, 401(k)s are set up so the default option for new hires is a minimum contribution of, say, 3 percent of income, which then rises automatically by a percentage point each year.

3. Build a Strategic Reserve

"This is valuable for financial emergencies," Pollack notes. How much to save? The experts don't agree; Ash Exantus, financial empowerment coach at BankMobile, recommends enough to cover six to eight months' worth of expenses, while Pollack recommends two to three. Do your best to save at least that minimum of two months' worth. "It provides incredible peace of mind," Pollack says.

Every little bit of savings counts. Consider, for instance, using the Digit app, which analyzes your income and spending patterns, and periodically sweeps a few dollars you won’t miss into an FDIC-insured online Digit account. You can put your savings in liquid investments such as government I Bonds or a money-market fund. 

4. Wait to Buy a Home Until You Really Can Afford It

Buying a home with a small down payment can sometimes provide great returns on your investment, but it also means higher monthly payments. And until your home equity reaches 20 percent, you must pay mortgage insurance, which can run as high as 2.25 percent of the mortgage balance. A large down payment usually is a smarter financial move. It also gives you an edge with sellers because they perceive the mortgage as more likely to be approved.

Pollack recommends accumulating a 20 percent down payment. If you can't gather that much for the home you want, consider finding less-expensive digs. Pollack says his advice stems from his own experience, in which several family crises in a short time period caused huge financial strain. "I was saved from disaster by owning less of a home than I could afford," he says.

5. Live Within—or Below—Your Means

Adjusting lifestyle expectations is hard to do, but it could be the best way for many of us to secure financial freedom. That may mean cutting back on vacation travel, getting rid of a car, moving to a less expensive home, or taking the kids out of private school. 

Establishing a financial plan and being flexible can help. "Ultimately, successful consumers who find financial freedom make deliberate efforts to keep their savings on track no matter what life throws their way," says Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge at Bank of America.